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CONTRIBUTION · 19th August 2011
Randy Halyk
I have been watching the Wolverine in Kitimat controversy unfold and feel I must comment. Upon initially hearing that our Mayor was concerned I decided to ignore it as just another publicity stunt. But when she brought it up at Council and insisted there were four vicious murderers roaming the streets I decided to get to the bottom of this story.

First I needed to gather as much information as possible about the supposed murderers, so I googled Wolverines. I found the Wolverine Foundation http://wolverinefoundation.org/ and read up on the critter. I emailed the Foundation requesting to speak to a specialist. It turns out that one of the directors of the foundation is Eric Lofroth who also works for the BC Ministry of Environment and is involved in the study of Wolverines.

Eric Lofroth explained that Wolverines are reclusive and elusive creatures that live alone except when mating and roam widely throughout their range in search of food. He has heard of only one other incident in BC where a Wolverine had been hunting close to town that was in Port Moody many years ago.

When asked if an animal is captured “what is the procedure”, he indicated the CO’s have two options kill, or relocate. Both options can produce the same result however, because if the animal is relocated it must be lucky enough to be placed in a range (territory) that has no other Wolverine or, Cougar, Bear, Wolf or other larger predator as it would likely not survive an encounter with any of these animals.

Questioning him about the danger of having a wolverine close to children he indicated that he has never heard of an incident in which a child or for that matter human has been attacked and that they avoid human contact whenever possible. Mr. Lofroth indicated that he would be open to calls from anyone looking for information on wolverines; you can contact him through the Wolverine Foundation.

I also contacted the Conservation Officer Service. I met with Sergeant Struthers and officer Kluivers and had a frank discussion surrounding Wolverines and the reports of 60, 80, 100, (take your pick) cats missing and what they could tell me. The Sergeant stated that the service had only three reports of lost cats in Kitimat and none could provide proof that Wolverines where involved, but on the insistence of the Mayor had placed a Bear trap. The conversation evolved to a discussion about time spent in Kitimat generally on bear calls and the need for more education surrounding wildlife in the region.

I am opposed to indiscriminately placing bear traps as they present a dilemma for the CO’s, that is, what to do with Bears captured unwittingly.

I stand behind my comments at the Council meeting indicating we should embrace the animals that surround us and celebrate the fact we live in such a diverse ecosystem. I believe we are amongst the luckiest people in BC indeed the World to be so close to nature and all its glory.

The comment made by Councillor Gottschling is good food for thought, we as pet owners are responsible for our pet’s safety and security so should be cognoscente of the fact that we live in the wilderness, all manner of dangers lurk in the woods and after all our pets are just visitors in a wild place.

We must also be responsible about garbage as it attracts bears that are here naturally to reap the benefits the Kitimat River affords them. We must become a bear aware community. There are benefits being a Bear aware community that surpasses just saving the odd bear that becomes habituated because of our lack of knowledge.

On a related note I have heard of a misguided group in town taking animal’s home from the shelter so they will not be euthanized, some with as many as 10 cats or more. I as a responsible pet owner do not support this kind of behavior as it creates a number of issues and none of them are good for the pets or the wildlife in our community.
Thank you Shiela
Comment by phil germuth on 24th August 2011
...... for your phone call today.

I apologize if you thought that i was calling you an irresponsible pet owner.

What I wrote was that "if" you put your cat out knowing a wolverine could be nearby then yes I would call that person irresponsible.

We are obviously both very passionate (and emotional) about issues we deem to be so important to us. Sometimes issues can get mixed up when emotions run high.

I know our first phone conversation of the day didnt go so well but I'm glad we talked a second time .

Also thanks to Mayor Monaghan for your call this morning. I appreciate we were both able to express our opinions as different as they may be in a respectful way.

So without getting into it any further I will leave it at that.
Comments by Phil Germuth
Comment by Sheila Eynon on 23rd August 2011
Well Germuth I wondered how long it would take you to get on board.
You are right I could,nt be closer to the greenbelt but I have a 5 ft ence all around my back yard. Unfortunately I do not fence the front yard so if other people are not fenced anything could come in. Once again you have a lot wrong. Anna Marie Carstens had a cat taken by and eaten by the wolverine and called me to warn me. I have been here 30 years and not seen one. If I had knowingly realized there was a preditor around I would not have done it.
How dare you call me lazy and an irresponsilbe petowner. Nobody could look afeter their pets better than I do.
I hope you have looked afeter your children as well as I did my pets.
I agree with you about the bears - they unfortunately were destroyed not that we (Mrs. Carstens and the rest of us wanted that)
The C.O.,s only had a bear trap so naturally the bears went into it and they were destroyed.
WE DID NOT WANT THIS - speak to C.O.s
As for the Mayor and your comments you must take that up with her but as usual you are using the old R.T.A..Kemano thing
and the Wharf as an excuse'.
By the way we have photograhs and times of the 2nd Wolverine which is hanging around near me and you know what Germuth my cats are in. Its the second one looking for the first one and its keeping people awake.
There are a lot of cats on my street and surrounding streets - how come you are blaming me?
Unless you have something good to say leave the wolverine/cats issue with the ones that it concerns and stop using your feelings about the Mayor,R.T.A.the Wharf,Kemano completion or whatever else you have a beef about in our business.
Get a life Phil and gives us all a break.
Sheila Eynon

On irresponsible pet owners
Comment by morganhorse on 23rd August 2011
Mr. Germuth, who are pet owners, responsible or not - you have a right to your opinion on that - supposed to complain to about wildlife issues? Is it not the Conservation Officer's job to handle just such complaints? And really, to compare wolverines to pedophiles, and to go further and say that any child that falls victim to any kind of predator was unfortunate to have an irresponsible parent is just plain nasty. Obviously the people of this community feel strongly about protecting the wildlife that frequent the area, and no one wants to see an animal put down without cause. But who's to say the wolverines would leave if every cat in town were suddenly made unavailable to them. Can you make that guarantee? Should we just take your word for it, do nothing about these wild animals, and hope for the best as far as our children are concerned? I have a fenced back yard, a large dog, and have never owned a cat. I do, however, have three children. All I want from the Conservation Officers is the promise that they will continue to police the wildlife that poses a threat to them. That does, after all, fall under their purview.
irresponsible pet owners
Comment by phil germuth on 23rd August 2011
Look where you live Sheila. A wolverine or any other wild animal doesnt have to cross a street or even a sidewalk to get on your property.

Your yard couldnt possibly be any closer to a green belt zone.

Now i admit that i am not an expert on wolverines and in my whole life in Kitimat I have only been fortunate enough to see 2 maybe 3 of these animals.

Of the wolverines I have seen none of them were carrying maps or surveyors equipment to make sure they didnt accidently venture onto Sheila Eynon's yard.

So if we knew that there was a predator in town stealing kids off of peoples yards wouldnt you say that any parent who left their child in the yard unattended would be irresposible?

So yes if u knowingly put your cat outside when there is a predator in the community feeding off them I would say that makes you irresponsible.

If u did that with a child theres no doubt your child would be taken away from you and you would most likely be facing criminal charges. So why do you put your cat in that position and then try to to blame anybody else when the inevitable happens.

You call yourself an animal lover. You say your pets are like family. Well you wouldnt put your 'family member ' child in that position would you? Why do it to your 'family member' cat?

The wolverine-cat issue is no different than the bear-garbage issue. No food supply - garbage and cats- equals no wolverine-bear problem.

So keep your cats inside and soon enough the wolverines will go elsewhere for their food supply.

Pets are like kids Sheila. If your too lazy to properly care for them then dont have them in the first place.

And why would you even bother to bring an 8 year old into the discussion? How many 8 year olds do you know of that are fully educated on proper pet care? Obviously its the parents job to educate their children Sheila.

Maybe if our Mayor cared as much about the people of KItimat as she does about cats and dogs we wouldnt be in this position. If she put as much 'air time' into Eurocan closing, RTA getting the wharf, Kemano completion with no smelter at all etc etc maybe things would be different.

But what is clearly the saddest part of this whole issue ?

In my opinion because of a few irresponsible pet owners continually complaining to the regional conservation officer because of their own incompetence, two innocent bear cubs got killed.

I hope you and our Mayor are happy Sheila.
wolverine
Comment by morganhorse on 22nd August 2011
While I have no problem believing that wolverines are reclusive animals and that Mr. Lofroth has not heard of an occasion where they have come into a town since the incident in Port Moody, that doesn't mean they are not here in Kitimat right now. The fact that conservation officers have no proof that the missing cats have been consumed by wolverines doesn't mean much either. They have been spotted by members of our community, in one case, in the act of eating a pet cat. I see no point in commenting on the wolverine's normal behaviour, as what we are dealing with here is something other than the norm.
Eyewitness
Comment by Anna-Marie Carstens on 20th August 2011
Councillor Halyk, I am the person who saw her cat being killed by the wolverine. I am a responsible pet owner. The cat was in my OWN backyard. I suppose it is OK to let your dog run in your backyard, why not your cat? She was not roaming the streets. I regret that I did not have a camera handy to take a picture of the wolverine with my cat in its mouth at the time. How silly of me not to keep my presence of mind! At least my husband and son also saw the wolverine, so there were 3 eyewitnesses to the attack.

Immediately after the event, I educated myself very well about woverines. I already knew that they are elusive and usually do not hunt domestic animals within city limits. I emailed Mr. Lofroth re. the wolverine problem, but I have not received a response from him yet. I think I will give him a call.

A wolverine certainly is a magnificent animal. (All of God's creatures are, even cats.) It is an amazingly well adapted hunter. I understand that their numbers are shrinking and I don't wish tem dead, just relocated.

I fully appreciate the fact that we live in a wilderness area. Wild animals often walk through our backyard - bears, foxes, wolves, deer, etc. They never linger, because we are responsible citizens. There is nothing to keep them in the yard. They use the backyard as an accessible trail, because the gully behind is very hard to navigate. We have never had complaints about these animals, because they do no harm. In fact, we were upset when we heard that the bears that were trapped in the wolverine trap in our yard were destroyed, because we did not complain about problem bears, just problem wolverines. The CO's apologised and explained to me why this had to be done. We accept their explanation, but we are still unhappy about the bears and we requested that no more trapbs be set in our yard.

It is hard to understand how someone who rescues shelter pets is "misguided". Pet owners who let their pets multiply and callously drop them at the shelter at night are misguided.
I personally know people who have adopted a number of shelter pets and these pets are very well taken care of. They are taken to the veterinarian regularly and every single dog or cat has been spayed or neutered.

The following quote from Mr. Halyk's letter is offensive: "The Sergeant stated ... none could provide proof that Wolverines were involved ' If this is in fact what Sergeant Struthers said, he is welcome to come and exhume the remains of my cat, but it is unlikely that they still find wolverine DNA on it after 2 months. That quote implies that my husband, my son and I are all liars and that we were not eyewitnesses to the attack. I spoke to officer Kluivers very shortly after the cat was killed. I described the wolverine to him in as much detail as I could. If they wanted to examine the cat's remains at the time, they should have asked then.

Two days ago, a little girl on our street came to my door with a picture of her cat Finnigan, who has been her companion since she was a toddler. Finnigan had gone missing. (Maybe we should call her family irresponsible pet owners too, Councillor Halyk.) We live just one street from where a wolverine was trapped, but I admit that this may be a coincidence.

The day after the wolverine had been trapped, a bigger one showed up at the trap site and this time, the homeowners had a chance to take a picture. Proof that there were at least TWO wolverines roaming a residential neighbourhood... I fear the wolverine controversy is not over yet, Councillor Halyk , not until the wolverines in town have been trapped an relocated to a remote area where they won't have access to cats. It is not natural for them to eat cats.

Wolverine
Comment by Sheila Eynon on 20th August 2011
Upon reading Kitimat Daily for the 19th August, I am appauled at the comments of one of our suppossedly EDUCATED COUNCILLORS who has been entrusted with the needs of the local people in Kitimat. I believe Randy is using this as an opportunity for his own benefit as a future Councillor or Mayor in this community.
I would like to add my comments as myself being one of the owners who has lost a cat.
Firstly a wolverine was captured and I hear released into the wilds of the North. These animals have a right to live and after being intown for 30 odd years this is my first experience with them coming so close.
All I want is some support from Conservation Officers and others responsible for Wildlife in this Region to help us with this current problem.
For the other people who are supporting C. Halek. Joanne Monaghan, being an animal lover as well. has been an advocate for us who have lost our pets who were very dear to us and did not roam all over - these were taken off our lawns or in front of our houses - Mrs. Carstens saw with her own eyes. Does anyone realise how painfull that was to watch? This has nothing to do with Monaghan. As for people adopting so many cats so stop them being euthanized I have not heard this but I will investigate believe me. I cannot believe that Marianne Baumbach will allow this to happen.
Since the one wolverine was captured and the trap taken away, the following day I was informed by my neighbour, where the trap had been, that another wolverine was sited in their back. We have pictures to prove this, also when I looked out my front porch, there was total destruction of my cushion on my chair with the wolverines deposits on my drive.
I hope this enlightens some of you readers to the issues that some of us animal lovers are experiencing in this town.
Yours.
Sheila Eynon
Right On Randy!
Comment by Brian fulsom on 20th August 2011
I have been appalled by the misinformation about wolverines being espoused by some of our local politicians. The only reason that a reclusive hunter such as a wolverine is frequenting Kitimat neighbourhoods is that irresponsible and uncaring pet owners are providing it with a ready food source. Pets should be confined to the owners home or yard. Under no circumstances should pets be allowed to trespass on private property or frequent public lands such as parks or green belt areas unattended. I was somewhat surprised by your assertion that people were adopting multiple cats to prevent them from being put down by the humane society but upon reflection I think its fine as long as the new owners keep them in-doors. I do believe though that the humane society should monitor these owners and, if they prove to be uncaring by allowing their cats to roam freely about the city, the cats should be confiscated. In conclusion, wolverines are magnificent creatures, they are predators that feed on a wide variety of prey and if they eat a few cats that are provided to them by irresponsible pet owners then, so be it, its simply nature at work.
Great letter Randy
Comment by A concerned citizen on 20th August 2011
I would like to say to Randy this is a great letter. You have brought forward the same info I found on the wolverine via the internet. I have a hard time believing the number of cats missing is all due to this animal. To be honest I found it embarrasing for this community news to be placed on Global TV and wonder how they got this story. Like Randy mentions we live in a area where there are many wild animals and people have to understand that garbage left out will attract them to your property.
I could be wrong but don't we have some by-laws about when people can put garbage by the curb for pick up? I notice many people on my street alone put thier garbage out in plactic bags by the curb the night before garbage pick up day. Sure wish something could be done about this because I am so tired of cleaning up a mess on my lawn the next morning week after week.