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This October 2008 photo released by Jeff Ford, taken near Minden, Mich., shows the female wolverine that was first spotted in 2004 in Michigan's rural Thumb region. (Jeff Ford/AP)
This October 2008 photo released by Jeff Ford, taken near Minden, Mich., shows the female wolverine that was first spotted in 2004 in Michigan's rural Thumb region. (Jeff Ford/AP)

Globe Editorial

When wolverines attack, pets should stay indoors Add to ...

Only its mother could love a wolverine. These members of the weasel family are vicious killers, strong out of all proportion (though dog-sized, they have been known to kill bears), and beautiful in their own way. They deserve respect and tolerance, even when they prove deadly to household pets.

In Kitimat, B.C., 650 km north of Vancouver, at least two cats are confirmed dead and as many as 60 are missing, with four wolverines being the suspected culprits. The city of 9,000 is feeling anxious. The mayor worries that young children might try to intervene to defend their pet from a wolverine, and be attacked. At first, officials did not try to trap the wolverines, because wolverines are not a menace to humans. But they have now begun to set traps.

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It is not only in Kitimat that wild animals come into conflict with household pets. In Toronto, with its ravine system, and in Edmonton, with its river valley, coyotes sometimes carry off an innocent feline. But if we truly love and respect animals, we shouldn’t take sides. Wolverines are relatively rare; B.C. has just 3,500, and is lucky to have them. They should be disturbed as little as possible. Cats can be kept indoors; children can be told to keep their distance. A pet perambulating on its own is not a citizen and, as a general principle, has no right to state protection from wild animals. Coexistence may not always be peaceful, but it is the best policy.

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