Banff wolves baited with turkey by suspected ‘wildlife paparazzi’

Parks Canada officials in Banff are worried someone is using food to bait wolves in order to get a good photograph.

Practice unacceptable and illegal, says Parks Canada

Dennis Rybicki says wolf attacks have resulted in more than $100,000 in damages at his Athabasca-area cattle ranch. (Dawn Villella/Associated Press)

Parks Canada officials in Banff are worried "wildlife paparazzi" are using food to bait wolves in order to get a good photograph.

A park warden on a routine patrol along the Bow Valley parkway Sunday came upon a wolf feeding on a discarded, cooked turkey at the side of the road.

Nearby were three vehicles with people inside taking pictures.

Steve Michel, a human wildlife conflict specialist, says other human food was found planted nearby.

According to Michel, the baiting is uncommon in national parks, but common outside protected areas.

"The sad reality is that although in a national park it's obvious to most people that this is unacceptable and illegal, outside of a national park environment it's actually quite common for some unethical wildlife photographers to routinely bait animals to get the photos that they are looking for," he said.

Michel says the big danger is the wolves could become food conditioned and when that happens often an animal will have to be destroyed.

It's not the first time the issue has come up in the past couple of years. 

Parks Canada officials say tourists tried to bait a grizzly bear and her three offspring with sandwich meat in Banff in August 2012.

A visitor also submitted photos to Parks Canada showing rice cakes being fed to wolves in July 2012.


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