Trapper not sounding the alarm over wolverine sighting near Yellowknife school

Yellowknife residents shouldn’t be alarmed by a recent confirmed sighting of a wolverine wandering near a local school, say environment officials and longtime trapper.

Reports of a wolverine near middle school caused partial lockdown

This wolverine was spotted Wednesday afternoon at around 2 p.m. at the new housing development in the Kam Lake industrial area. A wolverine was also seen at Yellowknife's William McDonald middle school on Wednesday. (Joshua Lefneski/Facebook)

Yellowknife residents shouldn't be alarmed by a recent confirmed sighting of a wolverine wandering near a local school, say environment officials and longtime Indigenous trapper.

A wolverine was spotted in the bush near William McDonald middle school early Wednesday morning and again near the end of the school day.

The sighting caused a short, partial lockdown of the school and prompted a hunt for the animal by conservation officers. A spokeswoman for the N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources later confirmed the animal was a wolverine and that it had been chased off the property.  

This type of sighting shouldn't be considered out of the ordinary, says Fred Sangris, a Yellowknives Dene trapper with experience with wolverines.

"We are living in the habitat area, the wolverines' home range," he said. "Wolverines have always been around this area, especially around this time of year; they're scavenging."

Indigenous trapper Fred Sangris talks his experience with wolverines after one was spotted in Yellowknife. 1:06

Sangris said the wolverine likely picked up the smell of a local restaurant or trash dump and began wandering into town. He said he'll often see a wolverine near the back bay in Ndilo.

"Wolverines are all over," he said. "They're abundant in this territory. This is their habitat.

"As Indigenous people we've never had a history with wolverines attacking people. I'm a trapper myself, I've gone on snowshoes and I ran after wolverines in the wilderness and tried to track them down. But never [has] a wolverine attacked people in our history; we've never heard that."

The story also provoked many responses on the CBC North Facebook page.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources reminds Yellowknife residents to call 867-767-9238 if they wish to report a wildlife sighting.

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