From: Philip St. George, thenorthbaybay.ca staff
NORTH BAY — Following numerous complaints of deer in the city, the MNR has announced that it will be releasing 22 live gray wolves directly into the North Bay.
“Deer can be invasive and destructive,” says MNR officer Stuart Tala. “They eat crops, grass, and gardens, and pose a significant danger to those driving.”
“While they are pretty to look at, deer overpopulation is a serious problem. Humans have created the perfect, sheltered habitat for deer with parks, golf courses and yards. Here they have been safe from their natural predators.”
“That is, until now.”
After City Council voted 12-0 in favour of asking the MNR for help in July, the Ministry of Natural Resources has since proposed the introduction of 22 wolves into the North Bay area.
“These wolves are all mature or nearly mature,” says Tala. “They are all between 5 and 7 feet long, and most weigh around 90 to 120 pounds. They will all make excellent hunters.”
While introducing wild wolves directly into North Bay may have some people on edge, City Councillor Grey Terrence says people shouldn’t be worried.
“The number of documented wolf attacks on humans is extremely low,” says Terrence. “There’s only been 3 fatal attacks in the last 100 years, so people are safe.”
“Do take care to bring your animals inside, though, as we can’t promise their safety. You might also want to watch out for toddlers or for shorter than average children.”
Release Date and Location
Stuart Tala and the MNR are set to release the wolves Monday, September 24th at three different sites.
“We’ll be releasing two packs of 7, and one pack of 8 gray wolves,” says Tala. “Locations have been chosen to give these animals the best chance of catching deer and disposing of them. We have picked sites where the deer population is high, likely because of the shelter they enjoy there.”
“We will not be feeding the wolves the week before their release so that they are particularly voracious.”
The wolves are set to be released around Surrey Drive on Airport, along Main Street West, and behind the Value Village on Marshall Ave.
Motorists in the area are asked to slow down and allow wolves to roam freely so that they can do their job.
“I’ll also remind everyone that gray wolves are considered an Endangered Species, and anyone caught harassing, hurting, or killing these animals can face fines up to $50 000 and a one year prison sentence.”
“We will be monitoring the situation closely. Just let the wolves do their thing. Unless you’re a cat, a dog, or a child under 5, they are of no threat to you.”
Some of the mayoral candidates weighed in on the plan.
In support of the program, Sheldon Forgette posted a photo of himself on his Facebook page which shows Forgette taking a selfie next to a stuffed wolf with the captain “Good luck, wolf brothers!”
On his Facebook Page, Gary Gardiner shared a YouTube link to Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like a Wolf,” but no caption or explanation.
Will Boissoin was the most vocal, declaring the wolves a “city-wide menace” in a Facebook post.
“Just another danger in city!” says Boissoin. “But once I am Mayor of North Bay, it’s one that nobody will have to worry about. When I move the city into Memorial Gardens, everyone will be safe from wolves, deer, and toddlers!”
“Will for Mayor!”
Hopeful for Success
The program’s success could lead to similar projects in other nearby cities, including Sudbury, Huntsville, and even Toronto.
“If these gray wolves succeed in reducing the deer population in North Bay we will be looking into introducing them elsewhere,” says Tala. “And while it would take a lot more wolves to control the deer population of a city down south, there’s nothing I’d like to see more than six or seven hundred fully mature gray wolves released into Toronto.”
“That would make me very happy, indeed.”