Let’s celebrate critters – and keep cats safe

I have been watching the Wolverine in Kitimat controversy unfold and feel I must comment. Upon initially hearing that our Mayor was concerned I decided to ignore it as just another publicity stunt. But when she brought it up at Council and insisted there were four vicious murderers roaming the streets I decided to get to the bottom of this story.

Dear sir,

I have been watching the Wolverine in Kitimat controversy unfold and feel I must comment.  Upon initially hearing that our Mayor was concerned I decided to ignore it as just another publicity stunt.  But when she brought it up at Council and insisted there were four vicious murderers roaming the streets I decided to get to the bottom of this story.

First I needed to gather as much information as possible about the supposed murderers,  so I googled Wolverines.  I found the Wolverine Foundation http://wolverinefoundation.org/  and read up on the critter. I emailed the Foundation requesting to speak to a specialist. It turns out that one of the directors of the foundation is Eric Lofroth who also works for the BC Ministry of Environment and is involved in the study of Wolverines.

Eric Lofroth explained that Wolverines are reclusive and elusive creatures that live alone except when mating and roam widely throughout their range in search of food. He has heard of only one other incident in BC where a Wolverine had been hunting close to town that was in Port Moody many years ago.

When asked if an animal is captured “what is the procedure”, he indicated the CO’s have two options kill, or relocate.  Both options can produce the same result however, because if the animal is relocated it must be lucky enough to be placed in a range (territory) that has no other Wolverine or Cougar, Bear, Wolf or other larger predator as it would likely not survive an encounter with any of these animals. Questioning him about the danger of having a wolverine close to children, he indicated that he has never heard of an incident in which a child or for that matter human has been attacked and that they avoid human contact whenever possible.  Mr. Lofroth indicated that he would be open to calls from anyone looking for information on wolverines; you can contact him through the Wolverine Foundation.

I also contacted the Conservation Officer Service.  I met with Sergeant Struthers and officer Kluivers and had a frank discussion surrounding Wolverines and the reports of 60, 80, 100, (take your pick) cats missing and what they could tell me.  The Sergeant stated that the service had only three reports of lost cats in Kitimat and none could provide proof that Wolverines where involved, but on the insistence of the Mayor had placed a Bear trap. The conversation evolved to a discussion about time spent in Kitimat generally on bear calls and the need for more education surrounding wildlife in the region.

I am opposed to indiscriminately placing bear traps as they present a dilemma for the CO’s, that is, what to do with Bears captured unwittingly.

I stand behind my comments at the Council meeting indicating we should embrace the animals that surround us and celebrate the fact we live in such a diverse ecosystem.  I believe we are amongst the luckiest people in BC indeed the World to be so close to nature and all its glory.

The comment made by Councillor Gottschling is good food for thought, we as pet owners are responsible for our pet’s safety and security so should be cognoscente of the fact that we live in the wilderness,  all manner of dangers lurk in the woods and after all, our pets are just visitors in a wild place.

We must also be responsible about garbage as it attracts bears that are here naturally to reap the benefits the Kitimat River affords them.  We must become a bear aware community.  There are benefits being a Bear aware community that surpasses just saving the odd bear that becomes habituated because of our lack of knowledge.

On a related note I have heard of a misguided group in town taking animal’s home from the shelter so they will not be euthanized, some with as many as 10 cats or more.  I, as a responsible pet owner, do not support this kind of behavior as it creates a number of issues and none of them are good for the pets or the wildlife in our community.

Randy Halyk

Kitimat, B.C.