A professional trapper has been called in to deal with an increasing wolf problem in beach country on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.

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This article was published 22/9/2015 (2198 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A professional trapper has been called in to deal with an increasing wolf problem in beach country on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.

The decision comes after at least four dogs were attacked by wolves in the past three weeks, three fatally. The most recent attack took place at about 4:30 a.m. Monday at Victoria Beach, when three wolves severely injured a German shepherd kept outside.

Wolves have attacked at least four dogs in the past three weeks.

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Wolves have attacked at least four dogs in the past three weeks.

Victoria Beach police Chief Stewart MacPherson said the wolves attacked with such force they toppled the doghouse and broke its chain tether.

"They really went after that dog," he said, adding the wolves were each different in colour. One was grey, one black and the other white.

A second German shepherd was rescued when the dog's owner intervened and chased away the wolves. The attack happened on David Road.

"The gentleman came running outside in his PJs," MacPherson said. "The wolves took off. They're afraid of us."

Barry Verbiwski, the province's head of fur-bearer and human wildlife conflict management, said officials are now trying to get a better estimate on the number of wolves that have moved into the area between Beaconia and Victoria Beach this past summer.

Besides the recent attack, dogs being kept outside have been killed at nearby Hillside Beach, Pelican Bay and a third at a residence across from Victoria Bay Estates.

MacPherson said wolf traps were being set up Monday near one of the locations where a dog was killed.

Verbiwski said it appears the predators are trying to establish their dominance. That brings them into contact with dogs which, if not kennelled, chase the wolves. Wolves also stalk dogs that can't defend themselves. There has been the odd wolf in the past, but not to the extent now where the animals are establishing territories. Their howling at night is also becoming more frequent.

He said the number of wolves in the area appears to be scattered with the odd animal as far south as the Clandeboye near Selkirk and north to Elk Island. A pack of four wolves, described as all grey in colour, was spotted Saturday moving through Grand Beach Provincial Park, and in the past month there have been several sightings of single animals.

Verbiwski said all pet owners should keep their dogs and cats indoors and not keep pet food outside.

"The wolves are out and about and doing their thing," MacPherson said. "For a wolf, a pet is just a snack."

Verbiwski also said anyone walking or biking in the area should take precautions.

Wolves generally stay away from humans, but there has been the odd instance elsewhere where wolves have tracked and attacked people. In 2010, at least two wolves chased down and killed a teacher who was jogging on a road in rural Alaska.

"Definitely, do not walk alone," Verbiwski said. "Carry a stout walking stick and even bear spray.

"If a wolf approaches you, definitely don't run. You're more likely to initiate an attack or chase. If a wolf does attack you, fight back aggressively. Use anything like keys or a pen. You are fighting for your life."

Word of the wolf attacks has spread quickly in the area, aided in part by social media.

"A lot of people are not walking alone a night," one woman said at Saffies General Store at Albert Beach. "We have a large dog, and we're keeping it inside."

Verbiwski and MacPherson said what's attracted the wolves to the east beaches is an abundance of white-tailed deer, which have increased in number in the past few years. Backyard feeding of deer by people is to blame for their increase.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca