Monday, March 23, 2009

More wolves, coyotes and cougars being spotted throughout Manitoba

Last Updated: Monday, March 23, 2009 | 2:27 PM CT

Manitoba Conservation says predatory animals like wolves, coyotes and cougars are being seen more in populated areas of Manitoba as they expand their habitats in search of food.

Numerous coyote reports have come in from West St. Paul, a community on Winnipeg's northeastern edge, while a couple in Lee River, 130 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, shot video footage of a cougar in their yard.

It's an issue that's taking a bite out of livestock profits across Manitoba. Brady Fonds, who manages cattle herds across central Manitoba for a farm support group, said he's lost 145 cattle to wolves since 2006.

In an effort to fight the losses, Fonds has managed to trap 40 wolves in the last two years.

"Wolves are very good and very elusive but yes, we've had some success. We don't want any of our patrons to lose any animals unnecessarily," he said. "We don't think we're ahead of the game by any means. It's a constant battle."

The predator troubles aren't confined to the pastures. Residents in eastern Manitoba say they are also losing pets to wild animals.

According to Manitoba Conservation, provincial deer numbers are way down. That diminishing link in the food chain means the animals have to look elsewhere.

However, conservation officials say they can't confirm a rise in predator populations because they don't keep statistics on those animals.

Ches Carver, the bylaw officer in Lac du Bonnet, 20 kilometres west of Lee River, doesn't need the stats to tell him what's happening.

He said wolves and coyotes are hunting pets and going into barns to steal hunters' kills. He's even seen evidence of an attack outside his own front door — bloody remains of some animal surrounded by paw prints.

"I have a large German shepherd dog and [the prints were] bigger than my dog's footprints, which indicates to me it was a wolf," he said.

"We have a lot of feral cats in this area and lately, I haven't seen any," he said. "We've been feeding them all winter and all of a sudden I don't see any."


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