B.C. lighthouse keeper learns what not to do in a wolf encounter
Published Tuesday, December 5, 2017 10:05PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 10:25PM EST
A lighthouse keeper on the remote northern tip of Vancouver Island has some advice after encountering a wolf lurking in some bushes: don’t run.
Harvey Humchitt Jr. said he and his colleagues regularly spot the canine predators near the lighthouse they operate in Cape Scott Provincial Park.
"(They are) mostly just wandering by. It seems like we’re in the middle of their highway or something when they’re transiting the islands looking for food and stuff,” he told CTV Vancouver Island. “We hear them more than we see them. On average we probably hear the wolves once or twice a week … the whole pack is howling and you can hear it everywhere.”
Humchitt said his wolf encounter earlier this week wasn’t like any he’d experienced in his 17 years on the job.
“I heard a little rustling coming from the brush, so I turned my flashlight to see if I could see what was making the noise,” he said.
Humchitt says the heart-pounding ordeal started when the wolf appeared to be surprised by the light.
“It sort of lunged at me,” he said. “In a split second I saw the deck (of) our house and that the gate was open, so I made the choice to run to the deck. And as I was running to the deck, the wolf gave chase.”
Humchitt said he heard the wolf snap its jaws three times as he sprinted. He closed the gate before the predator reached him. Moments later, he looked through a window and saw it dash across a helicopter pad before disappearing into the night.
After researching, Humchitt says he knows why the wolf chased him. “When I started running, I basically told the wolf that I was prey,” he says.
Wolf sightings are common on Vancouver Island. The region is even home to a subspecies called “Vancouver Island Wolves.”
Wildlife educator Gary Allan said it’s important for humans to fight the instinct to run, and stand their ground when face-to-face with a wolf.
“Don't run to get out of it. Walk backwards or walk (while) still watching the animal and also watching where you're going because you don't want to trip,” he said. “If you trip and fall and it’s there, again, that could trigger it taking a lunge at you.”
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Gord Kurbis