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Canadian forces drones tapped to help look for escaped B.C. zoo wolves

Drone used infrared imaging to search for wolves on property neighbouring the zoo
One of the missing wolves, a cub called Tempest, was eventually located and is back with the pack. (Courtesy GVZoo)

Members of CFB Esquimalt were given a chance to use their equipment a little differently this month.

CFB Esquimalt used a Mavic 2 Enterprise drone to help look for the wolves that escaped from Greater Vancouver Zoo on Aug. 16.

Capt. Jeff Klassen, spokesperson for CFB Esquimalt, said the base was concerned about its members’ safety when they heard the news of the wolves, since the Department of National Defence property neighbours the zoo in Aldergrove. The drone, which is usually used for inspecting antenna equipment on the navy base, flew on an hour-long patrol each day for three days after the news broke.

The drone took video and used infrared sensing to try and detect heat signatures and determine the location of the wolves. Ultimately, the drone did not find any of the animals during its search.

“CFB Esquimalt always looks for ways to be a good community member. We saw a way we could help out with drones we had on-site, and so we did. It was an unfortunate situation and our condolences go out to the zoo as one of their wolves died in this incident,” acting CFB Esquimalt case commander Jonathan Audy said in a statement.

On Aug. 16, someone broke into the zoo property and cut a hole in the wolf enclosure. When staff arrived, they found several were missing. In the following search, done by B.C. Conservation Officer Service, Langley RCMP and zoo animal keepers, all but one of the escaped wolves were rounded up and returned safely. The last missing wolf, called Tempest, was found on Aug. 19. A young wolf called Chia was found dead the day before.

“We are so grateful for this positive outcome for Tempest but are still processing the loss of Chia,” the zoo said.

The investigation into the break-in remains ongoing, but Cpl. Holly Largy of the Langley RCMP confirmed there were no security cameras in the area where the break-in took place. Not only was the wolf enclosure fence cut through but the outer perimeter fence of the zoo was also cut.

Anyone with information on the break-in and release of the wolves is asked to call the RCMP at 604-532-3200.

READ MORE: Last missing wolf recovered alive after escape from Aldergrove zoo


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