Banff wolf pack seen eating garbage concerns park officials

Parks Canada says it will be watching a pack of wolves near the Banff townsite after three were spotted eating garbage. Officials say they want to make sure this is an isolated incident, not the start of a habitual problem.

Visitor noticed the animals in the parking lot of the revamped Johnston Canyon trail

A recent wolf pack sighting near Banff has park officials concerned. (Submitted by Andrew Hempstead)

Parks Canada says it will be watching a pack of wolves near the Banff townsite after three were spotted eating garbage. Officials say they want to make sure this is an isolated incident, not the start of a habitual problem.

Andrew Hempstead was checking out the newly revamped trail at Johnston Canyon last week when he noticed something moving in the parking lot.

Andrew Hempstead was checking out the newly revamped trail at Johnston Canyon back in January when he noticed something moving in the parking lot. (Submitted by Andrew Hempstead)

Hempstead got in his minivan, grabbed his camera and realized he'd spotted three wolves.

"They were completely oblivious to me, probably 50 or 60 yards away," Hempstead said.

"They were just feeding on, I couldn't see what they were feeding on, I could just see they were milling around the contractor bins."

Hempstead eventually realized they were eating fast food wrappers and other garbage.

'They were just feeding on, I couldn't see what they were feeding on, I could just see they were milling around the contractor bins,' Andrew Hempstead told CBC News of a recent wolf pack encounter. (Submitted by Andrew Hempstead)

"One of them was the alpha male who was massive.  Well, he came right up to about 10 yards from me … and he was sort of walking around the vehicle, trying to get into where I was on top of," he explained.

Hempstead called Parks Canada who arrived in about 15 minutes.

Wildlife ecologist David Gummer says someone must have tossed their garbage into the bin and it fell out.

He hopes it was an isolated incident.

"Over the coming days and weeks we'll be monitoring the wolves behaviour closely to see if they try to seek out garbage or food associated with people, and of course we are crossing our fingers we won't be seeing that kind of behaviour," Gummer said.

He says people should always toss their garbage into bear-proof bins to prevent this type of problem with wildlife.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.