Bow Valley yearling's hunt for food provokes wolf warning for Banff town

The uncollared wolf also swiped a picnic box from a table in the Castle Mountain campground Wednesday and was spotted prowling for food in town Thursday.

Same wolf swiped box from picnic table earlier this week

A young, uncollared wolf belonging to the Bow Valley pack has been spotted wandering through the Banff townsite, prompting a wolf warning for the area. (Dawn Villella/Associated Press)

The Banff townsite is now under a wolf warning, after a bold yearling wandered into the backyard of a home there and secured a "substantial food reward" from backyard garbage.

Persistent bad wolf behaviour from the Bow Valley pack has forced authorities to kill an alpha female and a yearling in recent weeks. 

The uncollared wolf also swiped a picnic box from a table in the Castle Mountain campground Wednesday and was spotted prowling for food in the Banff townsite again Thursday.

Wildlife experts are actively tracking the wolf's whereabouts. If and when the yearling is found, officials will make a decision about whether to collar or kill it, said Greg Danchuk, manager of visitor experience at Banff National Park. 

'Everybody needs to be super clean'

Greg Danchuk says people must use the provided sinks for dishwater disposal and must stop throwing garbage into fire pits. (Kate Adach/CBC)

Deliberate feedings, garbage left out at a construction site and improper care and disposal of food have encouraged wolves to be less wary of human presence, said Danchuk. 

"These wolves are food-conditioned because of a series of events over several months," said Danchuk.

Authorities say it's imperative that all people in the area follow the rules and take extra precautions when handling anything that has come into contact with food. 

"Dirty dish water from a campsite for instance can't be just thrown into the woods," he said.

"Everybody needs to be super clean," because even dogs' water dishes and cleaned barbecue grills have enough of a scent to attract wildlife, he said.

Officials are urging visitors and residents to immediately report any sightings of wolves and other wildlife to Banff dispatch, at 403-762-1470.

Other wolves doing well

While the Bow Valley pack has so far been "very unwary of humans," Danchuk said that hasn't been a problem with other wolf packs in the area.

"The Fairholme pack whose territory overlaps greatly with the Bow Valley pack have demonstrated no sense of being unwary of people. They continue their natural wary behavior, and this is really encouraging," Danchuk said. 

Wolves have accessed garbage and food, and shown bold behaviour in the town of Banff, day use areas and the following campgrounds:

  • Tunnel Mountain Village1 
  • Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court
  • Two Jack Main
  • Two Jack Lakeside
  • Johnston Canyon
  • Castle Mountain
  • Lake Louise campground.

With files from Kate Adach