Residents of a small community in British Columbia have a mysterious killer in their midst and are taking steps to protect their pets, farm animals and small children.
An animal thought to be part timber wolf has been stalking Bowen Island, just off the coast of Vancouver, for about six months -- preying mainly on dogs and cats.
"Anyone who has family, has pets, and anyone who has seen it, seen the way it looks at you, knows that it's dangerous to have around," said island resident Stacey Powers.
Her husband John recently caught the animal on video, and saw it snatch a gosling out of a nearby pond.
The animal has "shown no fear of coming up close to the house," he said, "and obviously you don't want to have a concern that he's there and all of a sudden the kids are in his range." The family is keeping its pets indoors and young children nearby.
A local veterinarian believes it is part dog, part wolf and that it may have been abandoned after being brought to the island.
"They are a mixed-up species. They are part domestic with the instincts of a wolf," said Dr. Alastair Wescott. "They don't react normally and so people can't manage them, and so dumping them is a common thing to do."
It is thought to be a young male weighing about 90 pounds.
Missing pet signs are posted all over the island. The animal has killed at least three dogs, more than a dozen cats and two sheep. Many deer carcasses have also been found.
The municipality has set up a hotline, bought a tranquilizer gun, and enlisted both Westcott and a professional trapper to find the animal.
Once caught, it is expected to be euthanized. Rescue organizations have been contacted, but the animal's behaviour has been so vicious they say there's no chance of rehabilitation. - ctv
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Hunting the wolf-dog of Bowen Island
Since appearing on Bowen Island, B.C., in December, an animal believed to be a wolf-dog hybrid has killed five dogs, six sheep and “more cats than we even know” says Chris Buchanan, the island’s bylaw services supervisor. It has taken numerous geese, raided two chicken coops and littered the island with deer carcasses.
“He’s definitely getting more bold,” says Stacey Powers, a resident of this 50-square-kilometre island located 20 minutes by ferry from West Vancouver. “I definitely don’t let my dog out, or my cats, or my kids.”
The island’s only veterinarian, Alastair Westcott, mounted a private campaign to stop the animal, his $2,000 high-powered tranquilizer rifle purchased especially for the task. He is intimately acquainted with the animal carcasses strewn about the island by the creature, but is yet to spot the canine itself.
“It’s my nemesis,” he says.
This week, local authorities — who have advised Bowen Islanders to “take precautions when hiking, or when allowing small children or pets outdoors unattended” — called in a professional trapper. He arrives just as the animal has begun targeting sheep. The attacks have come at dawn, with the animal leaping into a pen and tearing the throat out of several lambs and ewes in a matter of minutes.
“When he kills the sheep, he doesn’t really eat them … it almost seems to be a game,” says Mr. Westcott.
Normally, wolf-plagued communities need only call up the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, which sends in a team to capture or kill the animal. However, after officers examined some grainy video images of the Bowen Island creature, they determined that the animal was an escaped wolf-dog hybrid – and thus out of their jurisdiction.
Private attempts to kill the creature have been hampered by an island-wide ban on firearms.
“As you can appreciate, Bowen Island is a bedroom community to the Greater Vancouver area … the province has determined this is a no-shooting area,” says Cpl. Don Southern with the Bowen Island RCMP.
Illegal or not, local gun-owners are keeping their rifles close at hand, says resident Ed Booiman. In January, Mr. Booiman was the first Bowen Islander to get a good look at the creature when he came upon it eating his pet Sheltie. “Everybody’s hoping that someone will take this animal down,” he says.
The island’s mailboxes, bulletin boards and trailhead signs are now plastered with posters instructing residents to report sightings to a dedicated “Hybrid Hotline.” When residents phone in the animal’s position to the hotline, Mr. Westcott attempts to head it off by taking up a position in one of seven hunting blinds he has set up around the island.
“Initially, I just went out for a couple hours every few days or so,” says Mr. Westcott. “Now, it’s three to four hours a day.”
Wolves are notoriously hard to hunt, especially in a thickly wooded island about half the size of Manhattan. The municipality of Bowen Island has left traps for the animal, but to no avail.
In February, a loose wolf-dog was shot and killed by a farmer on nearby Salt Spring Island after it killed more than a dozen of his lambs. After discovering lamb carcasses on his property, farmer Ted Akerman grabbed his 12-gauge shogun and spent the night staking out his flock from the cab of his pickup truck. He was able to kill the dog when it came back for his sheep in the morning.
“People come to the island with a dog they can’t handle and they leave it here,” says Mr. Akerman. “I’ve had ferry workers tell me about people coming over with a big dog, and when they come back they don’t have it.”
Although domestic wolves are illegal in B.C., residents are allowed to own wolf-dog hybrids.
“It’s one of the real messes of wolf biology that people want to breed them because they think it’s sexy to have a wolf – and then they get loose and disappear,” says Bob Hayes, former wolf biologist for the Yukon Territory. The B.C. SPCA has long taken a strong stance against ownership of wolf-dog hybrids. “Crossing a wolf and crossing a dog generally undoes 12,000 years of domestication,” says Robert Busch, general manager of operations for the B.C. SPCA. The animal may seem friendly and dog-like, but it can easily “snap” and revert to its wild state.
Mr. Westcott still suspects that the animal could be a common wolf. - nationalpost
Original post: Wolf-dog hybrid puts B.C.’s Bowen Island in ‘lockdown’