FIELD – A train driver reported striking three wolf pups on the Canadian Pacific Railway in Yoho National Park, potentially killing at least one, on Sunday (July 11).
However, when Parks Canada wildlife crews went to investigate the scene near the trailhead to Wapta Falls, about 40 kilometres west of Field, they turned up no evidence that animals had been hit by a train.
Parks Canada wildlife experts say staff walked the train tracks for several kilometres in either direction, only turning up wolf scat which suggested wolves had been there at some point.
“CP thought that one of them had been killed and they weren’t sure about the disposition of the other two,” said Mark Benson, acting human-wildlife management specialist for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay field unit.
“It’s possible that something came along and dragged the animals away, but generally if there’s a strike, we’ll find some kind of physical evidence, whether that’s hair or something like that.”
The wolf pups are believed to be members of a pack whose territory straddles Yoho National Park and provincial lands in British Columbia, including the Kicking Horse Valley.
There are no GPS collars on this pack, so information is limited to occasional sightings and reports.
“Their numbers have varied over the years from two to seven, fluctuating back and forth,” Benson said.
“Unfortunately, they are not as well studied as some of the other wolves so we don’t have a ton of information and we aren’t aware of the status of the pack right now.”
Last month, a yearling member of the Bow Valley wolf pack was struck and killed on the Trans-Canada Highway near Castle Mountain in Banff National Park. It is unknown how the wolf, which had been recently fitted with a tracking collar, got onto the highway.
The Bow Valley pack now consists of four to five wolves, including the remaining collared yearling. There are believed to be at least seven newborn pups based on recent sightings.
All wolf sightings should be reported to Banff dispatch at 403-762-1470.