Alberta Fish and Wildlife confirm pair of wolves responsible for attack on livestock in February
By James Emery — Editor
Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers from Cochrane have confirmed a pair of wolves was responsible for killing a heifer near Madden last month.
Calling it “very rare” and “unusual,” Fish and Wildlife officer Stan Hawes said it’s the first wolf attack on livestock he’s seen east of Highway 22 in his 30 years being stationed in Cochrane.
“Wolves are a timid animal and tend to hunt where there’s a lot more cover, a lot more brush,” Hawes explained. “There are ravines and draws and coulees that extend out onto the prairie areas.
“They may be following along these coulees where they do get cover and come on the open field. It’s very rare they attack livestock, but they will.”
Lynn Whieldon runs a thoroughbred horse business on a farm near Symons Valley Road just west of Airdrie by the GoldenRod Hall.
She claims that a wolf killed one of her horses two weeks after the Madden heifer was killed, and she claims it’s not the first time it’s happened on the property, either.
Whieldon said she arrived at the farm to tend to her horses around 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 16 when she found her horse, 10-year-old Avro Arrow, laying on the ground and went to investigate.
“I just started screaming and crying, half of his face was ripped off,” she said.
That’s when Whieldon said she saw the wolf.
“I looked up and just a little back, there was a white wolf, sitting right there looking at us,” she said, pointing towards a hay stack. “He stayed, he wasn’t going. He wanted his kill.”
The wolf finally scurried off into the open prairie when the landowner ran for his gun, Whieldon said.
Whieldon claimed this was the third time her horses have been attacked in the last two years and she believes wolves were responsible in each incident.
She had to put one horse down two years ago and the other required surgery for “jugular” injuries.
Hawes said Fish and Wildlife officers ruled out a wolf attack in Whieldon’s most recent complaint, saying a vet determined the horse died from a pre-existing medical condition and the feeding on the horse was likely a secondary predation, like coyotes.
Whieldon believes evidence linking her case to a wolf attack, like tracks in the snow, may have been destroyed inadvertently and disputed the findings.
Fish and Wildlife has since set up a remote camera on the property.
Whieldon claims other neighbours, including a sheep farmer, have also seen the pair of wolves.
“Right now, all the hunters and beautiful neighbours that are watching have me at ease,” she said.
But she fears her horses won’t be safe for long.
“Because there’s been so many humans on this land that coyotes won’t even come on this land right now, I know they’re safe right now,” she said. “But when is it going to be unsafe?”
Hawes said his office has not received any further complaints that the wolves were spotted in the area recently.
“The (farmers) are extremely vigilant in monitoring and watching,” he said.