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Bow Valley wolf pack expected to rebound after fatal incident

An adult wolf and four pups recorded on a remote camera in July 2011 in Banff National Park. file photo courtesy of Parks Canada

Experts don’t appear to be worried by a huge blow to the wolf population at Banff National Park after three young pups were struck and killed by a Canadian Pacific train last week near the Sunshine exit.

Resource Conservation Manager Bill Hunt says wolves are a very robust species in Banff, the population is strong and it will rebound.

His comments come following the death of two additional wolves this past month, one was a young pup also struck by a train and the second was an adult female who had to be put down for becoming too bold.

“The pack dynamics as we’ve come to learn there were at least six pups this year born to litter, three of those were recently killed and one died on June 18th, so we believe we’re at a number of two young pups, three yearlings and the one adult male,” said Hunt.

“We work closely with CP to make sure we don’t have any attractants on the rails so if a deer or elk is struck on the rail they call it in right away they call it in and we go and remove that carcass so we’re not attracting any bears,” he said. “We didn’t find any; it appears the wolves were just using it as an easy travel corridor.”

Hunt says reactive management such as hazing is fairly ineffective when it comes to wolves because of the vastness of the area.

“We’ve only had four instances in the last few months where we’ve had to do any aversive conditioning on them.”

They’re currently working with the major rail line researching how to prevent bears from interacting with the rail line, those results are expected this fall and they hope some of it will transfer to other animals.

“Well there’s very little we can do in terms of deterring wolves from using the railway, we certainly have other work underway, for example the dawn to dusk closure of the Bow Valley Parkway provides them secure habitat during that time of year. Keeping food and garbage away provides them an opportunity to also use the habitat.”

He’s not worried about the impact to the population telling 660 NEWS there’s three different packs that operate in the valley.

“Wolf numbers are relatively healthy for the lower Bow Valley and in a case like this the alpha male will likely be mating again next spring.”