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CA: Birds Hill Park wolf danger

Province warns visitors after two dogs killed

BY DOUG LUNNEY, WINNIPEG SUN

Manitoba Conservation is warning visitors to Birds Hill Provincial Park not to bring their dogs until two predator wolves that have killed two dogs since last Sunday are caught and euthanized.

The first dog was killed Sunday inside the park while being walked off-leash, while the second was attacked Tuesday morning at a home on Hillside Road just south of the park’s border.

“We’re advising people that visiting the park is fine, but keep their dogs on a leash or better still keep them at home,” Manitoba Conservation wildlife manager Barry Verbiwski said Thursday. “If they are going to bring their dog, the dog must be on a leash. They are potentially inviting an encounter. Carry a walking stick, carry a noise maker and don’t walk alone.”

Conservation has hired a trapper to work with their staff at Birds Hill. The plan is to catch the two wolves, which will then be destroyed, Verbiwski said.

Conservation first heard in January from a nearby property owner that the two wolves were seen in the area, but at the time it was believed they were only hunting deer and there was no need for further action. Now that there is no snow, Verbiwski said it would be more difficult for the wolves to catch the deer.

“Dogs are an easy source of prey and they will probably continue to seek out dogs,” he said.

Conservation would much prefer to “leave the wild in the wild,” but the problem will only continue in this case, Verbiwski said.

“The difficulty in trying to capture and relocate these animals is if we did attempt to relocate them it would be in another wooded area, and the resident wolves would likely kill them because of the territoriality aspect of wolves,” he said. “The other thing is these wolves have been habituated to people … now they’ve gone a bit too far where they’ve destroyed dogs, so we can’t take the chance (of them doing) the same thing somewhere else.”

Janelle Carlson’s chihuahua, miniature Pinscher-cross named Spencer was killed Tuesday shortly after her husband Jeff let their two dogs out in the morning.

“I know that Spencer was hunted because he never barked,” Carlson said. “If he had seen the wolf I know Spencer would have barked.”

The Carlsons, who have an 18-month-old daughter, have lived on their 10-acre property since 2006, about 2 km south of the park border. They knew there were coyotes in the area, but not wolves.

Spencer, who was two years old and tiny at 11 pounds, quickly ran into the woods directly beside the house after he was let out. He was followed by Buddy, the family’s 12-year-old Labrador/shepherd cross.

Then her husband heard “a terrible screaming” coming from the woods, Carlson said.

“Jeff went running toward the woods, calling Spencer’s name,” she said. “When he got to the edge of the woods he looked in and he could see the back of a wolf.

“It was shaking Spencer, trying to tear him up. Then the screaming stopped and Jeff ran back to the house and told me ‘I think Spencer just got killed by a wolf.’”

The couple went back out to search for Spencer and eventually found his “bloody and mangled” remains near the back of their property line.

They tried to revive him with chest compressions, but it was soon clear there was no hope.

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