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Litter of pups born to wolf pack that was at risk of being wiped out

The Bow Valley wolf pack, which collapsed in 2016, has bounced back with a new litter of pups — and Banff National Park has extended an area closure to help the animals thrive.

Bow Valley wolf pack is bouncing back after being down to a single member in 2016

Members of the Bow Valley wolf pack are seen in a this file trail camera photo. (Parks Canada)

The Bow Valley wolf pack, which collapsed in 2016, has bounced back with a new litter of pups — and Banff National Park has extended an area closure to help the animals thrive.

Two breeding adults, two yearlings and an unknown number of three-month-old pups are residing on the north side of the parkway, between Ranger Creek and Hillsdale Split.

It'll be off-limit to humans until the end of August, said Jesse Whittington, a wildlife ecologist with the park.

"Their behaviour's been great the last couple months,"  said Whittington. "They're travelling throughout the Bow Valley, hunting, feeding, taking food back to the pups, and they haven't been spending a lot of time in high-use areas which is good." 

"But we know these wolves can easily become habituated toward people, and the challenge with that is that then they're more likely to receive food rewards. So this closure will help provide them with a secure area."

Whittington said wolves are travellers, often traversing 30 to 50 kilometres in a day, so the chances of seeing a wolf are slim.

But he advised that if people do spot the wolf family, to give the animals the space they need and to keep all garbage and food secure so the animals don't become habituated — which is what happened in 2016. 

Two wolves were shot for aggressive behaviour after the animals became used to food and started lingering near campgrounds. A third was shot by a hunter in B.C. None of the pack's pups survived — four were hit and killed by trains.

The remaining male joined another pack — leaving the female, that's currently part of the breeding pair, the sole remaining member. 

With files from Dave Will

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