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This article was published 22/9/2015 (2220 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
No one is 100 per cent sure just yet, but there’s a growing fear that four recent attacks on dogs in cottage country weren’t carried out by wolves, but by a new predator called a "coywolf."
The province says without proper DNA analysis of a trapped animal to determine if there is a hybrid coyote-wolf population in the East Beaches area, the four attacks on dogs are being blamed on wolves asserting their dominance and looking for an easy kill.
Wildlife officials have hired a licensed trapper to begin capturing the animals and others are setting up trail cameras at remote locations to get images of the elusive carnivores.
There have been four confirmed dog attacks in the Victoria Beach and Hillside Beach areas on the east side of Lake Winnipeg in the past month. Three dogs were killed — at least two were ripped to pieces, according to residents — and a fourth was severely injured in the most recent attack early Monday.
Several residents believe some of the attacks were carried out by coywolves.
"It’s their howling at night," Hillside Resort Store employee Debra Adams said. "They didn’t sound like wolves. It was more like a cry they made back and forth. It sounded like something being killed. It kept us up most of the night."
Adams and others said they believe there are two packs of the animals roaming the area between Hillside Beach and Grand Beach with the odd sighting along Lakeshore Road and Hillside Beach Road.
"Normally, wolves don’t go near people, but it’s like these animals aren’t afraid," Adams said.
There has to date been no documented case of coywolves in Manitoba — the hybridization between coyotes and wolves is rare. However, a number of coywolf attacks on pets have been reported in Toronto over the past few years. It’s also been reported that increased hunting and trapping pressure on wolves has led to mating between wolves and coyotes.
Lyall Trainor said a single wolf lured one of his two German shepherds into the bush behind his property near Albert Beach one night about two weeks ago and killed it. Traps have been set up to capture it.
"This wolf is pretty big," Trainor said. "We think he was pushed out of one of the packs which is why he went after my dog. If there are two or three together they can take down a deer."
Trainor keeps his other dog and pet cats indoors now.
"We’re under siege," he said.
Hillside Beach resident Mel Rawluk said the animals appear to have forced out the bears from the immediate area.
"You used to see bears around every year, but it seems like every bear has gone away," he said. "The wolves have cleared them out of the area.
"You can hear them at night. There are two packs signalling back and forth."
Rawluk said he has lived in the area for about 30 years and has never seen as many wolves as he has this year.
Hillside property owner Larry Koop, whose family has owned land since 1945, said in the past only the odd coyote has been spotted.
"We’ve had a mother bear and her cubs on the property, but never wolves," he said.
Both Koop and Rawluk agreed the province needs to address the situation through responsible trapping.
"You don’t want people shooting at will and illegal poaching," Koop said. "Then it becomes dangerous."
Trainor said the wolves move throughout the area north to Elk Island with ease.
"When we were kids we used to see packs of them moving across the ice," he said, adding he’s lived in the area since the mid-1950s.
"Then for years there was nothing. Lately, there are more and more of them all the time. It makes you wonder how tasty you look."