Dog saves family from wolf attack
FORT NELSON: Day of tobogganing almost ends in tragedy as wolves stalk children
With their protruding rib cages and shrunken bodies, there was no question the wolves were hungry.
Shadow saw them almost immediately; the children and their parents didn’t.
In the dusky northern light three days before Christmas, two Fort Nelson families came dangerously close to two hungry wolves, until the family dog, Shadow, narrowly averted disaster.
The wolves appeared quietly at about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 22, as darkness was creeping in on the winter wonderland 100 kilometres east of Fort Nelson, where the families were tobogganing.
About 30 metres away, a sleighful of three children — one aged four and the others aged three — were being happily towed along the base of a hill by an all-terrain vehicle.
Father Kyle Keays was oblivious to the danger until he suddenly heard his wife’s shriek from the top of the hill.
Shadow, their Rottweiler-cross, had broken from the grasp of Keays’ wife and was bounding down the hill toward the wolves, who were moving in toward the children.
“I looked back and saw my dog intercept the lead wolf — there were two of them. They were heading towards the kids and the dog came in,” said 36-year-old Keays, who was riding on a separate ATV.
Being too far from the children, Keays headed to his nearby work camp to grab a rifle.
Meanwhile, friend Rod Barrie, who had been towing the children in their sleigh, slowly and calmly made his way to a nearby truck, where Barrie’s wife was waiting.
“The first wolf hit [Shadow] in the side and grabbed his shoulder. He spun around and grabbed that wolf by the face,” said Keays.
“I was thinking ‘Good dog, you get steak dinners for the rest of the month if you make it through this.’”
By now, Barrie had reached his truck with the wolves just six metres away. The couple quickly pulled the children inside while Barrie armed himself with a shovel and began swatting at the wolves.
The wolves glared; Shadow growled. No one was budging. Barrie decided to jump on his ATV and drive the wolves into the woods.
The strategy seemed to work, with the wolves batted back some 20 metres into the bush.
Once at camp, where Keays works as a gas plant operator, Shadow got a thorough inspection but only suffered bumps and bruises.
“The wolves were definitely not afraid,” said Keays. “They were skinny, skinny. Very hungry.” Apparently, they weren’t done yet. Not long after reaching the camp, Keays heard something move. The wolf with the black and sliver coat was back.
Keays, a licensed hunter, followed the tracks, found the wolf about 300 metres away and shot her.
He found the wolf’s carcass the next morning, apparently halfeaten by the other wolf. Because of the potential danger, Keays found and shot the second wolf as well. Both incidents were reported to a conservation officer.
In his years of hunting, this wolf encounter was one of the more peculiar ones, said Keays. For one, wolves aren’t known to eat other wolves’ carcasses and for another, they aren’t known to prey on humans either, he said.
“You never see them. I work out in the bush all the time and normally your first glance is your last glance,” he says.
There have only been a few documented cases of fatal wolf attacks in North America.
Earlier this month, wolves attacked dogs in three separate incidents in Prince Rupert, resulting in the death of a young maltese, according to a news report.
And a pack of wolves were also reported to have attacked three women and their dogs in Alaska last week, where wolf attacks have been increasing in frequency.
Thanks to Shadow, the Rottweiler-cross at front left, two Fort Nelson families were saved from a wolf attack.
After his family was stalked by a pair of hungry wolves, 36-year-old father and hunter Kyle Keays tracked and killed the female, top, and male, bottom, wolves.