Eastern coyote, a wolf hybrid, confirmed in Gatineau Park
National Capital Commission study collared 4 animals over several years
A few times each year over several years, the managers of Gatineau Park have been getting reports of wolf sightings in the area.
The reports eventually prompted a multi-year study, and the results confirm the mystery animal is a hybrid wolf-coyote canid called the eastern coyote.
Researchers caught and collared four of the animals for the study, ranging between 30 and 72 pounds. Satellite tracking shows they travel back and forth between the park and the Ottawa River, and make their dens outside the park's borders.
Jean and Denise Duchesne, who regularly visit Gatineau Park, said they're surprised to learn they're sharing trails with the eastern coyote. They've seen carcasses of deer near Lac Philippe.
"I knew they were on the East Coast Trail but I didn't think there were any here," said Jean Duchesne, who helps rescue people who get lost in the park.
"I'd be scared to meet one," Denise Duchesne said.
But Christie Spence, natural resources manager for the National Capital Commission, said the animals aren't a threat to park visitors.
"We're not concerned at all about people's safety. These are pretty wary animals," Spence said. "They don't present a risk, they're just a really important part of the ecosystem that we're trying to protect."
The NCC will use the information for future park planning, Spence said.