Officials say pets need to kept on leash and in their homes at night as the wild animals are likely to return and try to get an easy meal again.

Dogs are still sniffing the scene on Chesterman Beach where wolves attacked and killed a medium sized dog Saturday. Even after time and wind has swept away the wolf tracks here, something more imprinted clearly remains.

“Dogs would certainly be picking up their scent,” said WildSafeBC’s Pacific Rim Coordinator Bob Hansen.

As a local wildlife expert, Hansen responded to the attack Saturday and said there was no doubt it was wolves. The prints he captured on camera were as big as his.

“It was just a mass of tracks and the animals involved were there for some time,” said Hansen.

While Chesterman Beach is busy by day with people, at night it is just a short lope from the Tofino mudflats that Pacific Rim’s pack frequents and he says they can smell prey from long distances.

“It is a prime part of the wolf territory at the same time its a human playground,” said Hansen.

Coastal Wolves returned to this area in 1998, after eradication efforts killed them off there in the 1960’s.

The numbers they’ve grown to are a mystery but their howls have become part of the night atmosphere, though sightings and even fewer attacks like that on a local dog Saturday are far less common.

“Yeah its very common to let em off and let em run,” said Tofino resident Tracey Head. “But now?” we asked her. “Even now (my dog) George he’s bigger than most wolves out here so I don’t really worry about him too much,” said Head.

Experts caution that is a false sense of security. Hansen insists wolves can easily take down Elk and large dogs when they pack up.

“It’s always something you never want to see happen,” said Hansen. “It’s a horrific event for the owners of the dog,” he said.

So Hansen is doing all he can to spread the message, that leashing your pet is the best protection from this area’s wild inhabitants.

Wolves are more likely to hunt at dawn and dusk but experts say since this recent kill they are now also likely to return, to try their skills out here again.

Skye Ryan