BC’s coastal wolves: elusive and worthy of protection

Young coastal wolf standing on sand of intertidal zone in the Great Bear Rainforest

I worked as a guide in the Great Bear Rainforest for 14 years before I managed to get a decent photo of a coastal wolf. I had seen plenty of wolves – even entire packs – but mostly fleeting glimpses, and mostly from a distance. Once, I was lucky enough to watch a wolf chase a grizzly bear through an estuary.

Coastal wolves are fascinating and full of surprises. Genetically and behaviorally distinct from their interior counterparts, studies by The Raincoast Conservation Foundation have revealed how unique these wolves really are. They are seafarers and seafood eaters that prefer to eat salmon over deer, and they have expanded our ideas about what it means to be a wolf. Raincoast researchers have found evidence of wolves on islands as distant as 5 and even 12 kilometers from the nearest land, and have seen wolves attack, kill and eat healthy adult black bears.

Given their unique ecological, morphological, behavioural and genetic characteristics, some scientists have argued that BC’s coastal wolves should be considered an Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU) and given special conservation status. That has not happened. To date, BC’s coastal wolves do not receive any special protection.

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