Army apologizes after Nova Scotia residents receive fake letter warning of wolves

HALIFAX — The Canadian Armed Forces is apologizing after some residents of Kings County, N.S., received a phoney letter warning of wolves in the area.

The letter, dated Sept. 19, said a pack of eight grey wolves had been released in northern Nova Scotia in August to reintroduce the species into the ecosystem.

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Written on what looks like provincial Department of Lands and Forestry letterhead and signed by someone identified as a "large mammal biologist," the letter advised anyone encountering a wolf to "back away slowly while remaining calm — do not turn and run."

Lt. Lance Wade, a public affairs officer with the36 Canadian Brigade Group, acknowledged in an interview Tuesday that the letter came from an army reserve training session at Camp Aldershot outside Kentville, N.S.

"We're sincerely apologetic," Wade said, adding the incident was a first for reservists. "Any inconvenience we've caused to the public and the Department of Lands and Forestry, we deeply regret."

He said he doesn't know why the training required the false note or how it got into civilian mailboxes. He said an investigation is ongoing.

"It seems relatively innocuous," he said. "Once we have all the facts, we'll be happy to explain a little bit further on why that was chosen."

The letter had the appearance of an official Lands and Forestry notice, but in a Twitter "alert" last week, the department confirmed the letter was a hoax and stressed that the government had not released any wolves into the wild.

"This letter has been showing up in some mailboxes," the tweet said. "It’s fake. We do not know who circulated it or why." The Department of Lands and Forestry had no further comment on the incident Tuesday.

According to the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park, grey wolves no longer inhabit Nova Scotia, but they can still be found in other areas across Canada thanks to conservation efforts.

As for the actual release of wolves into the province, Dalhousie University professor Karen Beazley cautions against it.

Beazley, a professor in Dalhousie’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies, completed a study on the feasibility of wolf introduction in the province in 2016. She concluded "insufficiently connected habitat, insufficient prey, and insufficient public/social support or tolerance" made actual wolf introduction in the province a difficult task.

She said, however, that future reintroduction of wolves could be supported by compensation for livestock losses, education to increase public's awareness and better land management across the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2020.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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