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Tourists Get Photos; Wolf Gets Shot

Tourists Get Photos; Wolf Gets Shot

The image still haunts me. We were on a family vacation, driving into Yellowstone National Park. Ahead of us, a family stopped and rolled down the window on the passenger side. Dad wanted a picture of his child feeding the bear. I don’t know if he got the picture, but his child got a nasty leg injury when the bear swiped at the food.

That was decades ago, but people still have not learned that wildlife are not pets. One of the latest animals to be killed because of human stupidity is a young wolf in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country.

The incident was a first for the recreation area. Senior Parks Ecologist Melanie Percy told CBC the wolf had been approaching vehicles for some time, looking for food handouts. She said:

Wolves, especially young wolves, often exhibit curiosity behavior, and as all the occurrences involved vehicles, no action was taken against the wolf. But we were sort of opportunistically using aversive conditioning – so cracker shells and paintballs on the wolf – to get it away from the highway and get it away from people.

The tactics did not work. The young wolf began coming up to people, running at motorcycles and vehicles, and chasing bicycles. Bear spray kept the wolf at a distance but did not scare it away.

Things came to a head when the wolf stalked a father and his young son and puppy in the Mount Kidd campground. They ran into a washroom, but the wolf waited outside for them. Conservation officers chased the wolf away from the campground and shot it.

This is not the only time this summer humans have endangered wildlife by deliberately luring them with food. On July 9th a tourist driving Highway 93 South tossed a rice cake to a wolf, and cars stopped so visitors could snap photos.

Two weeks later tourists in a van threw food to grizzlies in Banff National Park. Fortunately, the bears ignored the lure, and other visitors notified Parks Canada. They contacted the tour company to remind them of the rules and the possibility of a fine that can reach $25,000.

Jim Pissot, executive director of WildCanada Conservation Alliance, put it succinctly in a comment to Rocky Mountain Outlook:

Habituating wildlife to human food is insane for public safety, and habituating wildlife to food along roadway is a death sentence to the animal.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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148 comments

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10:31AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013

amazing how stupid some people can be.

5:30PM PDT on Sep 2, 2012

We don't feed the wildlife, we need to respect their home. The wildlife should not have to die because of the ignorance of people. They are wild animals.

4:09PM PDT on Aug 23, 2012

The misguided stupidity of human race never fails to amaze me.

8:40PM PDT on Aug 13, 2012

how about those gunhappy so called "conservation" officer bastards? They should have been the ones chased and shot.

3:23AM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

The root cause is simple; exploding human population that invades and destroys wildlife habitat. Most so-called "Wildlife Parks or Reserves" are nothing more than large zoos in which animals are constantly controlled by human intervention. The terms "Natural" and "Wilderness" have become just another bunch of blatant lies.

8:41PM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

Men have proved, over and over again, that no one else can beat them in the Competition of the Greatest Morons Alive on the Planet. Due to the stupidity, ignorance and greed of some human beings, the innocent wolf had to pay with his life. Every time, its the people, who provoke the creatures, but sadly, the poor creatures are always blamed for the mishap and punished.

12:49PM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

Okay folks, think about it, you acquire a new dog for a pet, you give him scraps from your plate as you sit at the table and eat. You have just taught him, you sit at the table with a plate of food, that he can obviously detect many scents from, and he gets food when you do this. What does he now do, parks beside you and looks at you and if you ignore, takes a paw and touches you. Well, wild animals are the same. If a human gives them food, and ooo's and aaah's, next thing you know they are sniffing out every human that comes around to see if they have food. DO NOT FEED WILDLIFE! THERE IS A REASON FOR THOSE SIGNS!

11:57AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

What ever happened to just watching nature, act naturally?

Sadly, I guss we are in such an immediate gratification mindset, that we just don't have time to just watch, and see what happens.

I have seen the most wonderful animal interactions, by just waiting for the crowds to leave, then the animals feel comfortable to actually do something.

9:48AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

People (with kids) are so stupid!!!!

12:35PM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

Why can't people learn to do the right thing.

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