Wildlife photographer suspected of baiting wolves with home-cooked meal

What do Ryan Gosling, Rob Ford and a pack of wolves have in common? They’ve all been chased by the paparazzi.

Earlier this month, a park warden found a wolf near the Bow Valley Parkway in Canmore eating a home-cooked turkey meal in what was believed to be left as bait to lure a well-known wolf pack for a photo op. 

The pile of well-placed bait, which included a mouth-watering turkey carcass and complementary stew, seemed to work on the pack. When the warden discovered the wolf, several photographers were already at the scene and taking photographs. None of the photographers would admit to leaving the bait, although they were all aware of it. None of the photographers reported the food to officials either. 

Steve Michel, a human and wildlife conflict specialist at the Banff National Park, told the Calgary Herald that “no one seemed to have any information as to how the human food got there, but they were all taking photos of the wolves.”

Not only is feeding wildlife illegal, but it’s unhealthy for the animals. Feeding wildlife can lead to aggressive behaviour from the animals and forced conditioning. Remember how that relentless fleet of ducks swam up to your dock at the exact same time every single day expecting breadcrumbs? Now imagine that scenario, but with hungry wolves. 

This incident also reflects badly on wildlife photographers as a profession. Legitimate photographers consider baiting animals to be unethical. John Marriott, a resident of Canmore who takes wildlife photos, told the Herald he was “shocked and saddened, and … furious” when he heard about the bait.

“There’s too many people who will do anything for a shot,” he said. “The behaviour I’ve been seeing out there has been getting worse.”

The park warden who discovered the scene is investigating the incident.