Report wolf sightings to town: Hallam

Duane Hicks

FORT FRANCES—While it’s hoped wolves won’t become a common sight here in Fort Frances, if residents do see any of them in town this winter, they are encouraged to call the bylaw enforcement office to respond.
As reported in last Thursday’s Daily Bulletin, Kaitlyn Drive resident Marla Knutsen watched three wolves eat a young doe in her backyard last Tuesday (Dec. 15).
Town bylaw enforcement officers and Public Works staff removed the partially-eaten carcass from Knutsen’s property on Friday, Superintendent of Planning and Development Rick Hallam noted Monday.
He added any other residents who see wolves on their property should call the town, not the OPP or Ministry of Natural Resources.
“We, the town, through the bylaw enforcement department, will attend issues such this, where there are wolves feeding on deer, or attacking deer, or whatever,” Hallam remarked.
“I take this to be an isolated incident because we have never had one like this before in Fort Frances,” he reasoned. “But anytime there is a situation like this, where people have wolves that got a deer down in somebody’s backyard, by all means, phone the help line and the bylaw enforcement department will respond.
“Probably in most cases, we will treat it like a bear call, and we will bring lethal back-up with us, being members of the OPP, and, if necessary, dispatch the wolves.”
Hallam said the MNR contacted the town and informed them they do not have the authority to discharge firearms in town—only the OPP does.
This is similar to how it is with nuisance bears, although there is no formal agreement between the MNR and town regarding wolves like there is with bears.
“Certainly the safety of Fort Frances citizens is paramount to us, and wherever there is an issue regarding wolves, yes, we will respond,” Hallam stressed.
Knutsen’s husband, Kevin, did contact the town about the carcass and wolves, and was told to call the Ministry of Natural Resources.
But Hallam clarified Monday that Knutsen unfortunately was given the wrong information by a town staff member who did not work in the bylaw enforcement department and who may have believed the protocol was different than with other animal calls.
“Whoever gave him that information was obviously acting with good intentions,” said Hallam. “It’s not a bear, it’s not a deer, it’s wolves, and it’s high-profile.
“I would have probably done the same and said contact the MNR. But people can phone the help line.”
To report wolf sightings to the town during business hours, call the bylaw department at 274-5323. After hours and on weekends, call the emergency help line at the fire department (274-9841) or Public Works (274-9893), who, in turn, will contact the bylaw enforcement officers.
Hallam later added this was the first time he has heard of wolves eating a deer in town limits.
“It’s a first for me,” he remarked. “I am not saying it will be the last, but I would like to think it would be the last.
“You just never know?”
Kevin Knutsen said his wife was in their home that afternoon when she noticed some movement in the yard. Having seen deer in the yard earlier that day, she at first thought it was still them.
But she soon realized it was two wolves eating a young doe, which had been killed sometime earlier but evidently hadn’t been down for long.
She took out the video camera and, standing at the patio doors at the back of the house, captured about 35 minutes of video, from 3:30-4:05 p.m., until the battery died.
A little later, a third wolf joined the other two to feed.
After eating less than half the carcass, the wolves left the premises.
Knutsen said while he’s frequently seen deer in the neighbourhood, he’s never seen wolves there before—and was very surprised to see them out in the daylight, tearing apart a deer carcass.
Knutsen said he wanted to bring the incident to light to raise public awareness for the sake of safety, and let other people know, especially those with children and dogs living in that part of town, to keep an eye open.
(Fort Frances Times)