Tragic news coming from Banff National Park today. The alpha female of the wolf pack we observed in March has been killed. The wolf had been involved in “at least 17 concerning incidents… since January”
Parks Canada has been closely monitoring the pack, as they have been highly visible around the Banff townsite over the last several months. Based on what we know, the pack’s association with food began in January, when they managed to get into improperly stored garbage left out by construction workers near Johnston Canyon. Since then, the wolves have become increasingly more brazen, despite the best efforts of Parks Canada.
Clearly, Banff was left between a rock and a hard place on this issue. The killing of the alpha female, the park believes, is the best hope to save the remaining wolves, including two newborn pups. Though Parks Canada believes the pups have passed the nursing stage, the odds of them surviving remain long, especially with pack dynamics in flux.
Though Parks Canada has pledged to improve public education around the importance of not feeding wildlife, the bigger issue is their lack of staff to manage the many commercial operations within the national park. Given the many hurdles (railways, highways, ski resorts, etc) wolves – and all animals – in the Bow Valley must already overcome, addressing added concerns like improperly stored garbage by construction workers seems to us like a game of whack-a-mole Parks Canada simply can’t win.
Once again, in less than a year, we’re forced to say goodbye to an animal we’ve grown to love and ask ourselves the question: If parks can’t protect our wildlife, where do animals get to come first?
This tragedy – and the others we’ve shared with you over the last year – ultimately are not up to one person or one agency to solve. It’s on all of us to find a better way before this tragedy is replayed. Again.
Photos: The alpha female killed today in Banff National Park (March, 2016).