Jasper's highway-running lone wolf euthanized

A female wolf well known for roaming the highways of Jasper National Park has been euthanized, park staff say.

Wolf 112 euthanized after refusing to leave highway, park staff say

Wolf 112 was 13 years old, which is 'miraculous' for a wolf in Jasper National Park, tour guide Joe Urie says. (Joe Urie/Jasper Tour Company)

A  female wolf well known for roaming the highways of Jasper National Park was euthanized last week, park staff say.

While the wolf, known as Wolf 112 to park officials, was unlikely to attack anyone, she was nevertheless a danger to people.

The park had received several calls about a wolf lying on Highway 16 in the western part of the park, a Parks Canada spokesperson said.

"[We] found Wolf 112 in a state where she could only take a few steps at a time and was unwilling to leave the highway surface," the spokesperson said in written statement.

"This situation presented a clear hazard to both herself and the travelling public."

Parks Canada decided to euthanize the wolf after considering her health and age and that she likely wouldn't survive much longer.

A picture of Wolf 112 in her younger days. (Parks Canada)

Joe Urie, who runs Jasper Tour Company, was very familiar with Wolf 112, who he called Mahihkan, meaning wolf in Cree. The Métis tour guide would often see her run up and down the highways, last seeing her in March.

Parks Canada first collared the wolf in 2009 and had been tracking her movements with the Sunwapta pack — which consisted of other young, black wolves.

"There was a big male that she used to run with — her old boyfriend — he passed about two years ago," Urie told CBC's Radio Active.

Since then, Urie said, Wolf 112 has been running on her own, which is why she's often seen by herself, running the highways.

"Again, she's 13 years old. Thirteen years old is miraculous for a wolf in the park," Urie said.

Wolf 112, known for wandering the highway in Jasper National Park, is seen here in 2014. 0:31

He figures Mahihkan ran the highways because they were easier to traverse than deep snow in the trees. But despite not being a spring chicken, Urie said he was impressed with how good she looked for 13.

"It's actually pretty amazing that she seemed to be in the shape that she was in for an old wolf," Urie said. "She didn't look like she was starving in the least."

Important contributions

Urie isn't a scientist but has some theories about why Wolf 112 would lay on the road. "I have a feeling she was doing this intentionally," he said.

He believes Mahihkan was blind in one eye and at least partially deaf. Urie would often approach her in a vehicle and while most wolves would hear the vehicle and avoid him, Wolf 112 wouldn't notice until she saw him.

With so many Indigenous stories that speak to how smart wolves are, Urie figures Mahihkan knew it was time.

"There are so many stories that just speak to the intelligence of these animals," he said. "The way she's behaved over the years that I've encountered her, especially in her older years, I don't put it past her at all."

Parks Canada said since Wolf 112 was collared, she provided valuable insight for understanding wolf movements on trails, wolf density and range, and their diet, which helps them develop plans to protect the caribou population.

"Wolf 112 had been part of Jasper National Park's landscape for around 10 years," the statement said.

"She will be missed."

Wolf 112, or Mahihkan, travelled well for 13 years of age. (Joe Urie/Jasper Tour Company)