Nov 16

Stealthy night operation planned to recapture missing High Park Zoo capybaras

A stealthy nighttime operation has been planned to lure back the High Park Zoo’s runaway capybaras.

As darkness falls Wednesday food will be laid as bait in the enclosure the pair refused to call home, and “capybara-enticing noises” will be played to make the Bonnie-and-Clyde strays feel welcome, said parks spokeswoman Megan Price.

All the while, city staff will be covertly monitoring the pen from a nearby capybara surveillance truck, waiting to run out and close the gate on the fugitive dog-sized creatures.

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“The faster we catch them the better for them,” Price said.

“We want to bring them back in a kind, gentle way,” said local councillor Sarah Doucette

READ MORE: 2 capybaras on the lam after escaping pen at High Park Zoo

The plan comes after a missed opportunity Tuesday night when searchers were too slow off the mark to nab one of the runaway rodents when it made a return visit to its intended pen.

Mayor John Tory, who toured the pen Wednesday, cheered the cleverness of the mission.

“I’m amazed at the resourcefulness of the people at the zoo to develop a plan to get them back,” Tory said.

“We would ordinarily be relying on the raccoon nation to provide us intelligence on the whereabouts of the capybaras but they have been in a state of war with us over the new green bins,” he joked after a photo op with the lone remaining capybara, a male named Chewie.

Some 30 city parks and zoo staff are on the case, which began when the strays —; a male and female —; bolted as the duo were being for the first time transferred into the enclosure Tuesday morning.

The somewhat exotic animals —; which resemble giant hamsters —; are technically the largest rodents in the world, with the pair weighing around 30 lbs each.

The city says capybaras are not considered dangerous but could be “skittish,” and residents are advised to stay away and call 311 if spotted.

Price said they can be difficult to find because they can remain still, silent and submerged under water for hours with just their noses sticking out.

If they elude capture for more than five days they’ll have proven better escapees than the peacock that fled the zoo last year. The colourful bird managed to reach several nearby houses, fluttering from roof to roof, before being caught.

With files from David Shum, Cindy Pom and

Nov 16

Fort McMurray wildfire: Bank of Canada says Alberta wildfires will slow economic growth

The economy will be weaker than expected in the second quarter due to the Fort McMurray, Alberta wildfires, the Bank of Canada said Wednesday as it kept its key interest rate steady at 0.5 per cent.

The rate is a key factor used by Canada’s big banks in determining their prime lending rate, which is used for variable rate mortgages and lines of credit.

The central bank said growth in the first quarter appears to be in line with its April forecast, although business investment and intentions remained disappointing.

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    But the bank said the second quarter that ends June 30 will be much weaker than predicted because of the wildfires that devastated swaths of Fort McMurray, Alta., forced the evacuation of the city and resulted in the shutdown of several oilsands operations.

    “The bank’s preliminary assessment is that the fire-related destruction and the associated halt to oil production will cut 1.25 percentage points off real GDP growth in the second quarter,” the bank said in its statement.

    “The economy is expected to rebound in the third quarter, as oil production resumes and reconstruction begins.”

    The bank had predicted growth of 1.0 per cent for the second quarter in its April monetary policy report.

    It is expected to update its full outlook for the economy and inflation in its next monetary policy report on July 13, when it also makes its next rate announcement.

    The Bank of Canada’s announcement comes in the wake of economic data that suggests the economy ended the first quarter on a soft note after starting 2016 on a hot streak.

    “In Canada, the economy’s structural adjustment to the oil price shock continues, but is proving to be uneven,” the bank said.

    Retail sales figures for March, reported last week by Statistics Canada, were lower than expected and followed reports of lower manufacturing and wholesale sales results for the same month.

    Statistics Canada also reported Friday that the annual pace of inflation climbed to 1.7 per cent in April compared with 1.3 per cent in March. Core inflation, which excludes some of the most volatile items, for the month was 2.2 per cent, up from 2.1 per cent in March.

    The Bank of Canada said inflation is roughly in line with its expectations, with total inflation slightly below its two per cent target and core inflation close to two per cent.

    The central bank also noted that the housing market continues to show strong regional differences, reinforced by adjustments ongoing in the economy.

    “In this context, household vulnerabilities have moved higher,” the bank said.