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NNSL Photo/graphic

Trout Lake residents say that wolves are becoming more aggressive and walking through the community. - NNSL file photo

Wolves prowling community

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Trout Lake (Dec 01/06) - Vic Nande's dog White almost became a meal for a wolf last week.

Nande, a resident of Trout Lake, was sleeping on the night of Nov. 22 when he heard White barking outside. Nande got out his door just in time to see a wolf running away.

While White was not injured, other dogs in the community haven't been as lucky.

Approximately six dogs have been eaten by wolves. Residents are reporting that wolf numbers near the community are higher than normal.

There have been lots of wolf tracks in the community, said Nande. Wolves came right up to his dog even though he'd put a light beside it for safety.

"I'm still worried for my dog," Nande said.

Wolf concerns are nothing new for Trout Lake. There have been problems for the past two years, but this year the wolves seem more aggressive, said Brenda Jumbo.

In previous years wolves would take a few dogs and usually confine their movements to the river's edge or the south end of the community, said Jumbo.

This year wolves are walking right through the community. The first dog was killed before Halloween and the others have disappeared since then.

Some people are concerned for more than just the dogs.

There are residents of Trout Lake who are afraid they might run into a wolf, said Jumbo.

Some women who used to get exercise by walking on the road towards the dump now don't go as far. Others are concerned about walking from their homes to the community hall after dark.

"People are getting scared of the wolves," she said.

The dog deaths are the action of more than just a lone wolf.

Brian Kotchea was driving to the lagoon and dump site last month after a snowfall to see if the dump needed to be cleared when he saw a movement on a nearby cutline.

Looking closer he realized he was watching a wolf. He said a total of 10 wolves ran through the cutline.

Kotchea, who has lived in Trout Lake all his life, said this is the first time he's seen so many wolves in a pack. Usually there are not this many wolves near the community, he said.

Many of the wolves are a medium size and look like they're young, he said.

Kotchea remembers a few years ago when there were a lot of wolves six were trapped and the problem stopped.

Residents are again taking action against the animals. So far approximately six have been killed, said Kotchea.

Some of the wolves were shot in the dark and the hunters left the carcasses outside with the plan to get them the next day. By the morning other wolves had eaten them, said Jumbo.

Timber wolves are not uncommon in the Trout Lake area, said Nic Larter, the Deh Cho's regional biologist.

Some people believe Trout Lake and Kakisa have more wolves because there is a good variety of prey sources in the area including moose and caribou, Larter said.

Normally wolves won't come into the town, but snow has been a factor this year, Larter said.

The huge amount of fluffy snow that fell in a short amount of time has made travel difficult for wolves.

"Wolves have a problem going through snow," he said.

When the snow is deep and fluffy, moose and caribou have the advantage and wolves know it, Larter said. When the snow freezes, the wolves will be able to run on the top while caribou will fall through the crust.

It's also early in the trapping season so there are no flattened trails for the wolves to follow.

The fact that the wolves are eating their own dead is a good indicator that the wolves are very hungry, said Larter.

"Dogs are very easy pickings," he said.

Reports that the wolves are small could indicate they are young, said Larter. Young wolves have a harder time hunting and are not as smart or wary as older wolves.

When the snow freezes and hardens, the wolves should be expected to leave the community, Larter said.