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Wolf attacks bring Jack London redux to Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin

by Greg Klein | September 14, 2016

Nature has inflicted many challenges on Cigar Lake, but most of them have been geological. Now local wildlife has turned against the project.

In what’s reported as strange behaviour for the species, wolves are stalking and even attacking the uranium mine’s employees. On September 14 the National Post reported one such canine wrapped its jaws around the neck of a kitchen worker. A security guard’s vehicle scared the attacker away. Considered unusual, the wolf “had apparently lain in wait for the young mining camp worker,” the NP stated.

Wolf attacks bring Jack London redux to Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin

Cigar Lake staff have cited several instances of being watched or followed by wolves, the paper added. “They are absolutely huge … they have no fear of man and come into the job sites often at night,” a former employee informed the NP.

Cameco Corp’s (TSX:CCO) majority-held operation lies roughly halfway between two 2005 wolf attacks, one of them fatal. As a result, the company fenced off Cigar Lake, cautioned employees and implemented deterrence devices such as “scare cannons,” according to the NP. Nevertheless, wolves and also bears continue to breach the barricades, Cameco acknowledges.

The newspaper characterizes the canine actions as a startling new phenomenon. But Jack London portrayed much more disturbing events in his 1906 novel White Fang.

It’s 50 below as two Yukon prospectors and their dog team find themselves tracked by an increasingly aggressive wolf pack. With gleaming eyes, the predators circle the men’s camps night after night, encroaching closer and closer and closer.

At times like that, “it’s a blame misfortune to be out of ammunition,” one guy observes.

Simply food for the predators, the dog team dwindles one by one. The two men dwindle to one.

The surviving prospector realizes his “living flesh was no more than so much meat, a quest of ravenous animals, to be torn and slashed by their hungry fangs, to be sustenance to them as the moose and the rabbit had often been sustenance to him.”

Evidently the quest for metals has always called for fortitude. And the world’s highest-grade uranium mine continues to face challenges.

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