Two Banff National Park wolf packs likely decimated by trappers

In January, Craig Comstock did what he’s done many times over the years — loaded his two dogs into his vehicle and drove from his home in Calgary to the backcountry for a day hike.

Wild wolves, Banff National Park

Comstock, 44, is an avid outdoorsman — he hikes, fishes and hunts pheasants and partridges — but none of that prepared him for what he found in the bush.

First, he came across two dead foxes and a dead wolf.

“Their heads had been cut off, their feet had been cut off and they had been skinned,” he told The Narwhal, noting that he also saw “several piles of bait meat.”

Then, as he walked on, he felt the prickly sensation of being watched. His eyes met those of a wolf, just 10 metres away. It was huge, he said — much, much bigger than his own dogs.

He froze.

Then he noticed that the wolf was trapped in a wire snare. Comstack and the wolf stared at each other.

“I wish there was something I can do to help,” Comstack remembers thinking.

“I can’t cut you loose, buddy,” he thought.

The wolf lay back down in the snow.

Comstock would find six other dead wolves caught on the same trapline.

When John Marriott, a local wildlife photographer and conservationist in Canmore, Alta., first heard word about the live wolf found in a snare, he set out to check the traplines himself.

What he found, he says, was a “scene of carnage.” He told The Narwhal he found three dead wolves, nine dead coyotes and four dead foxes — all of which had been skinned.

All, he says, were “just laying there with the meat in various stages of decomposition.”

Skinned wolf

Craig Comstock came across several skinned dead animals on a recent hike along the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains. Photo: Craig Comstock

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