After 4 pups killed by train, Parks Canada says pack should recover

Parks Canada said the three wolves killed by a train on Monday were pups from the Bow Valley wolf pack, but that despite the accident the pack will likely survive.

Recent deaths come after alpha female was euthanized

Three wolf pups from the Bow Valley pack were killed by a train on July 4. (pixabay.com)

Parks Canada said the three wolves killed by a train on Monday were pups from the Bow Valley wolf pack, but that despite the accident the pack will likely survive. 

The deaths are just the latest setback for the pack, coming weeks after another pup was killed by a train and almost a month after the alpha female was euthanized by parks staff for bold and aggressive behaviour.

"It's definitely not good, but it's still within the normal range of mortality for wolves," said spokesperson Bill Hunt on the implications for the pack. 

"Pups, within the first year, typically experience somewhere between 40 to 60 per cent mortality. They are prolific breeders, so this is not unrecoverable, they can get caught up again next year."

Yearlings improving

Hunt said they think there are still two pups left in the pack, along with three yearlings from last year. 

"I think it's just the naivete of this year's pups," he said. "They've got a lot to figure out and a lot to learn, and figuring out trains is something that obviously is presenting a challenge for them."

The good news, according to Hunt, is that the yearlings appear to be changing the behaviour they learned from the late alpha female around humans and campsites. 

"In the last four weeks we've only had to do aversive conditioning on them four times, which is significantly less problems or challenges than we were having prior to euthanizing the adult female," he said. 

He also cites increased awareness of visitors when it comes to food being left out and littering. 

"It's pretty clear that the efforts of people [visiting] the park is helping us turn those behaviours around," said Hunt. 

With files from The Homestretch