Bushes and shrubbery are removed on June 3, 2020, from the site of a wolf attack on a man in Port Edward, on May 29. The wolf had been made a den, under the foliage, at the end of the front path to Port Edward residence. (Photo: supplied)

Necropsy for Port Edward wolf is inconclusive

Samples sent for forensic analysis; wolf sightings continue; bushes removed at attack site

UPDATED: June 4, 2020

Test results have not determined if the wolf caught and dispatched by Conservation Officer Service was in fact the wolf responsible for a recent human attack.

The necropsy (autopsy on an animal) carried out in Terrace by a provincial wildlife veterinarian on June 3, did not immediately prove if the adult female wolf was in fact the one that attacked 72-year-old, Stanley Russ, on May 29. Russ was attacked in an unprovoked assault while walking back to his home on Evergreen Avenue after visiting the next-door neighbour.

It was initially hoped confirmation of the animal would be supplied at the time of the necropsy, however this was not the case, but no obvious signs of illness or disease were discovered.

“It could take some time for the forensic analysis to have results,” Cam Schley, Insp. with the COS said, “The samples have been couriered to Vancouver.”

The time that test results will take is based on how busy or backlogged the lab is.

Wolf sightings have continued around the Port Edward area, with Port Edward District Council posting another wolf warning on it’s social media page on June 2.

“Keep your dogs and cats under control and indoors – traps and snares are set. Also maintain increased vigilance with children and continue to walk in groups as there is a high level of wolf activity,” the district’s social media post said.

“We are still going to maintain a presence in Port Edward over the next number of days. As we want to make sure everybody is save, people should still stick with the recommendations… keep dogs on leases and if dogs are out in the yards, they should be tied up not running around lose.”

In the meantime, at the site where the wolf attack happened bushes and shrubbery, the wolf had been using under as a den, have been removed for safety.

JUNE 2, 2020, 2:30 p.m.

Conservation officers believe they may know by Wednesday if the wolf killed in Port Edward is the same one that attacked a senior last week.

Conservation Officer Service Insp. Cam Schley told The Northern View that a lone female adult wolf was trapped and dispatched late in the afternoon on Monday (June 1) in Port Edward.

The wolf was located in relatively close vicinity to the site of the attack which occurred on May 29, Schley said. While it was not found directly at the attack site, a witness to the attack identified it as potentially the same animal. Overall, conservation officers have seen an increase in reported wolf sightings in Prince Rupert.

READ MORE: Wolf killed in Port Edward

A necropsy has been scheduled for 9 a.m. in Terrace on Wednesday (June 3), and will be completed by a government wildlife veterinarian.

“The wildlife veterinarian will look at the overall health and samples. They will test for disease,” Schley said.

While there were no obvious signs of ill health, a variety of tests will be performed to establish if the wolf captured is actually the one that attacked the senior. These examinations can include stomach contents, DNA and bite patterns, as well as tests on the health of the animal.

Conservation officers will keep a presence in Port Edward, with day and night patrols, until tests results are available. If tests prove the wolf is not the one in the attack, officers will continue their activity in Port Edward.

“I am hopeful it is the right wolf. The community is under enough stress and anxiety from the pandemic. They don’t need anymore with wolf attacks. Hopefully, in our small way we can relieve some of that.”

“We just have to see if there are any more sighting in Port Edward over the next couple of days,” Schley said. “We are still going to capture wolves in Prince Rupert that are going after dogs on leashes.”

Between 6 a.m and 8 a.m. on Monday, there were six individual wolf sightings reported to conservation officers, both near the hospital and in various areas of Prince Rupert. Wolves can run in packs, however a solitary lone wolf is not unusual. Schley said the descriptions officers are receiving definitely indicate there is more than one wolf, based on colouring and size.

READ MORE: City to request conservation officer

Whether or not there is enough work to warrant a full-time, permanent, conservation officer to be posted in Prince Rupert is a matter of debate, Schley said. The work is fairly steady in the spring, summer and fall with more bear interactions.

The four officers, posted in Terrace, work in a zone model covering Terrace, Kitimat, Nass Valley, Prince Rupert and Port Edward.

Schley said he is aware of previous requests made for a conservation officer to be placed in the Prince Rupert and Port Edward areas, but the Ministry of Environment has previously declined the requests.

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K-J Millar | Journalist 
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Reported wolf sightings have increased in Prince Rupert with six reports to COS between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. on June 1st. This lone wolf was seen on May 20, on Eleventh Ave East in Prince Rupert. (Photo: Todd Hamilton/The Northern View)

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