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CA NWT: Fish left near Aklavik creeks attracting wolves to community

Federal and territorial officials encouraging residents to clear areas after fishing

By Mackenzie Scott, CBC News

Fish left at creeks near Aklavik, N.W.T., are attracting wolves to the outskirts of the hamlet.

Ian McLeod, the hamlet’s renewable resource officer, says this has been going on since November.

“We’ve started to see wolves coming into town that we usually don’t see, it might have to do with lower moose numbers,” he said.

“It seems like there are a lot of [wolf] pups this year too, so it could be a combination.”

McLeod says fish wastage near the creeks has been an ongoing issue over the years, but this is the first time it has attracted so much wildlife.

This winter, McLeod says he’s made about four trips each to Six Miles and Jack Fish Creeks to haul fish away. Most of the fish that are being left are small, he says, adding he’d like to see residents release them back into the water.

“We are going to try and encourage people to catch and release the fish that they don’t intend to eat,” said McLeod.

“Hopefully we can eliminate some of the fish on the ice just by putting the ones that they don’t want back into the water. Let them go, let them grow.”

He also hopes fewer fish left on the ice will lead to fewer wolves prowling around town.

Fish wastage at Jack Fish Creek, Aklavik, N.W.T.

Waste like this left at Jack Fish Creek near Aklavik is a concern for government officials, as it’s attracting wolves. (Submitted by Jordan McLeod)

Kids walking to school

Jordan McLeod, vice-president of the Hunters and Trapper Committee in Aklavik, says Jack Fish Creek is a main concern since it’s located across from the river near the school.

“The wolves are coming in especially when the kids have to walk to school,” he said.

“We don’t have busing services in the smaller communities so it is kind of a threat on our kids here in the community to walk, especially when it is dark in the morning.”

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans was alerted to the situation last week, and a fisheries officer is investigating. Federal officials are going to team up with the N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to raise awareness of the situation.

Jordan McLeod

Jordan McLeod, vice-president of the Hunters and Trappers Committee in Aklavik, is concerned about wolves around Jack Fish Creek. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

“There’s a spectrum of things that we can do,” said Gerald Fillatre, detachment supervisor with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Yellowknife.

“One is signage and an educational program, you know, putting signs in the local community, telling people about the regulations.”

Fillatre says charges could be laid if people continue to leave fish near the creeks.

“We shouldn’t be wasting fish,” he said. “There is no culture that believes that is acceptable, so if somebody has too much fish they should return [them] back to the water alive or bring [them] into the community, because there are always members of the community looking for fish.”