Conservation officers in northwestern B.C. have killed a lone wolf they believe could have been responsible for a rare attack on a man last week that left him with "significant injuries."
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service said the wolf was caught in a trap in Port Edward, B.C., late Monday afternoon. Insp. Cam Schley confirmed the animal was later shot.
Schley said the animal matches the colour, size and overall appearance of the wolf that bit a man in a residential neighbourhood on Friday.
The man, who is in his 70s, suffered injuries to his lower body after the animal attacked him in a front yard. He was flown to Vancouver for medical treatment.
Schley said a necropsy is scheduled for the wolf Wednesday to determine whether the dead animal was the one that attacked the man.
"One witness had a look at it and they believe it's the same wolf that was responsible for the attack, but then there's lots of wolves that can be of similar size and colour to this one so we want to make sure it's the right wolf," Schley said Tuesday.
Margo Vandenberg, who lives in Prince Rupert, B.C., is the second cousin of the man who was attacked.
"This wolf actually bit him, bit his leg ... it was unbelievable," Vandenberg said in an interview from her home Tuesday. "The wolf dragged him right down the cement in the front of his house to the grass ... that's the description we got."
"I was terrified when I heard that — wolves don't attack, you know."
A necropsy will analyze teeth marks, overall measurements and DNA samples to see if the animal can be matched to the man's injuries.
The veterinarian will also check for disease or illness, in an effort to figure out what could have triggered the late-night attack, if it is determined to be the same wolf.
"This is very, very rare. Wolf attacks on people in North America are extremely rare," Schley said in a previous interview. "Wolves normally have a pretty good, healthy fear of people and will avoid people at all costs."
People in Prince Rupert had reported multiple sightings of wolves in recent weeks, as well as several wolf attacks on cats and dogs. Residents were warned to walk in groups and keep a close eye on their pets.
Vandenberg said residents in both Port Edward and Prince Rupert have been posting sightings to a community Facebook group. She said some residents have been nervous to let cats and dogs out in the yard, and watched children carefully as they went back to school on Monday.
Documented wolf attacks since 2000
The conservation service said there have been just two documented wolf attacks on people in B.C. within the last 20 years.
A kayaker sleeping outside his tent on Vargas Island, near Tofino, woke up to find a wolf dragging him and his sleeping bag away from the campfire in July 2000. The man was bitten in the hand and head before other kayakers chased the wolf away. A statement said two wolves which were "obviously food conditioned and thoroughly human habituated" were later killed.
Another kayaker was attacked on the Anderson Islands, north of Bella Bella, while setting up his tent in July 2007. An old, female wolf bit the man before he stabbed the animal with his knife. The injured wolf was later shot. Later testing showed the animal was "emaciated" and the attack was deemed "predatory."