By Andru McCracken
Conservation Officer Warren Chayer responded to a report of a mule deer shot within the limits of the Village of Valemount about 400 meters upstream from the village’s water intake.
“Somebody had reported a dead deer on the edge of the creek and when we went to look at it, it looked like three canines had hunted the deer and pushed it towards the creek,” said Chayer, who noted it was likely wolves.
The Conservation Officer said there is nothing unusual about wolves hunting deer and he added they were likely scared off the fatally wounded prey by the openness of the terrain.
What was disturbing for Chayer was that he believes a citizen attempted to end the deer’s suffering in village limits with an inappropriate non-centerfire weapon.
Chayer found a .22 calibre bullet lodged in its neck.
“That was not the right thing to do,” said Chayer.
He said concerned citizens should have contacted conservation using the RAPP line 1 877 953 7277 instead.
Chayer said they often coordinate with RCMP who can handle the situation quickly, humanely, safely and without a raft of legal issues that follow the discharge of a firearm in municipal limits.
After inspecting the scene, he believes the wolves didn’t follow the deer because of the openness of the terrain. He said patches of hair on the hillside indicate the wolves had been hunting the animal.
“Wolves didn’t follow the deer down to the water because it might have been too open for them,” he said. “To an untrained eye it would have been an injured deer with a whole bunch of blood.
“The bullet hardly penetrated the deer,” he said.
Sadly, the gunshot wound to the neck wouldn’t have sped the animals death and only added to its suffering.
“If anybody has any information, we’re interested in that,” he said. “If things were the way we think they were, in that circumstance, there are legalities around discharging firearms around buildings.”
“If it needed to be put down for humane reasons, call us or the RCMP and we can take steps to humanely euthanize the animal.”
The CO also advised people on wolf encounters.
“If you start seeing a lot of big canine tracks, there is a likelihood it is a wolf,” he said. Nearby ravens can be another indication.
“Wolves are really close to town this time of year, especially when ungulates are in wintering range in the valley bottom, don’t be surprised to encounter a wolf.”
If you have an encounter with a wolf, make yourself look big.
He reminds pet owners that pets are more vulnerable than humans.