Chester
Photo by Isabel Flood

Wolf attacks lead to temporary dog ban in Pacific Rim National Park

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Parks Canada announced a dog ban in parts of Pacific Rim National Park last week after two pets were attacked by wolves.

The ban, which was issued for all areas of the Long Beach Unit, including Tofino’s Wickaninnish Beach, was announced about a week ago. Although it’s since been lifted, an advisory for the region is still in place, which means dog owners are being encouraged to leave their pets at home.

For local Isabel Flood, the warning came a little too late. When she and her two young boys were walking their dog Chester along the south end of a beach in Ucuelet one evening, she spotted what she thought was another large dog, perhaps a German Shepherd. Only minutes later, it was fighting with Chester.

“…my dog was totally overwhelmed right away. It was biting my dog viciously and he was on the ground and yelping,” Flood told Global News. Luckily, her boys were at the other end of the beach at the time, so she only had to worry about protecting Chester and herself.

Initially, she froze at the realization that her dog was being slowly dragged into the woods by a wolf. Although she eventually started to yell and back away from the animal, it wasn’t until a couple came running toward them, yelling and throwing sticks, that her dog was able to escape.

“He was really badly chewed,” Flood said. She drove Chester to the vet in Nanaimo, where one of his legs was stitched up. He’s now recovering from his wounds.

This, combined with another attack on a dog in Tofino, are what prompted the ban, but it’s certainly not the first time that dogs and wildlife have been considered a dangerous mix. In 2014, University of Calgary researcher Steven Herrero published a study that analyzed more than 90 bear attacks in North America over the course of five years. According to the data, 49 of the bear attacks involved dogs, many of which were loose. There have also been multiple reports of wolves stalking people who were running or walking with their dogs on Vancouver Island.

Flood and the couple who came to her and Chester’s rescue did react to the wolf appropriately, but according to park officials, Flood shouldn’t have let Chester run loose in the first place.

“Dogs off-leash are any easy target, and it appears the wolves are recognizing that,” Pacific Rim’s Renee Wissink told CBC.