A dog has been killed in what is believed to be the second wolf encounter in less than a month in the Sooke area.
According to conservation officer Peter Pauwels, on Tuesday morning (Feb. 1) a pet owner in the Connie Road area let their dog out into the backyard, where it ran off into the woods but did not return. When the owner went looking for the dog, they only found blood and the dog’s collar.
“Based on what the owner told me, I believe it was a wolf,” Pauwels said. “He has heard wolf howling close to his house recently, he has found what he believes to be wolf excrement. Based on what he found left of his dog, it sounds consistent with wolf activity as opposed to cougar or bear.”
The attack comes after a Jan. 8 encounter in Broom Hill in which an off-leash dog went into the trees. When the owner chased after it, they found their dog being held by the neck in the jaws of a wolf, which the owner managed to scare off.
While wolf encounters are fairly common further north on Vancouver Island, Pauwels said they are rare this far south, and to have two so close together is especially unusual.
“We don’t know if it is the same wolf or wolves, or if there is a lack of their usual prey species,” he said. “People are reporting hearing them more often than a few months ago, so it sounds as if more have moved closer to civilization. That may be temporary, they may move back out, but for now it sounds like there are probably more around than there was six months or a year ago.”
While it’s unfortunate pets are being injured or killed in these attacks, he said, the wolves pose no direct risk to humans.
Sam Webb, president of Wild Wise Sooke, said the encounter is alarming and she hopes it does not become part of the new normal.
“I’m really hoping we can band together as a community and prevent this from happening to more people,” she said. “We need to keep pets and other attractants like garbage secured. For dogs, that means keeping them on a leash … and feeding all pets indoors.”
Both Wild Wise and conservation officers are continuously gathering information on wolf locations and populations in the area, and encourage the public to report any interactions or evidence of wolf activity, such as howling or tracks.
Wildlife reports can be made to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service RAPP hotline at 1-877-952-7277 and to Wild Wise Sooke by email at email@example.com, or by phone at 250-880-8371.