As of November, Giant Mine can now add wolves to its list of residents, which so far includes clean-up workers, derelict mining equipment and abandoned buildings.
While wildlife issues are rarer compared to more remote locations, it’s still possible to see appearances of animals on site, said Natalie Plato, deputy director of the Giant Mine Remediation Project in a email to Yellowknifer.
Wolves are no exception and an unknown number of them have taken up residence at the contaminated mine site, she said.
“However, the Yellowknife-area is home to many types of wildlife, including wolves, and it is always possible for workers to encounter wildlife on the site,” Plato wrote. “Signage does not reflect a new issue but instead ongoing safety measures to ensure workers are aware of all hazards that may be on site.”
She reminded residents that the site is contaminated and its workers receive special training and equipment.
“Wildlife on site has always been a consideration for the remediation of Giant Mine. The project team has taken steps to address wildlife issues at site and to modify work to ensure wildlife is not impacted. This will continue as the project moves into the implementation of the remediation plan, once a water licence is in place,” she stated.
However, there are no plans to remove the wolves from the site. When workers know wildlife is present, security logs the information and, depending on the animal, reports to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Canadian Wildlife Service, or Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“If it did become necessary to remove any wildlife from site, action would only be taken after consulting with the appropriate regulators as well as the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and the North Slave Métis Alliance,” she wrote.
Also, workers can’t go to remote areas of the site alone for their own safety.
“When outside the core area of the site, workers are also expected to radio security every 30 minutes to confirm they are safe. As well, where possible, work is postponed if there is a lot of wildlife action in a particular area,” she wrote.
If you encounter a wolf, GNWT guidelines suggest raising you arms to appear larger and engaging in aggressive behaviour such as making noise and throwing objects.
The guideline also advises against running away. Instead they advise that you keep your arms raised and maintain eye contact while calmly backing away.