Coastal wolves come in all colors from black to white, although tawny brown with red highlights is most common. Living in packs which share many similarities to human families, these wolves are often documented playing, bonding, and constantly sorting out hierarchical structures.
Having fully penetrated all environments along the mainland coast and adjacent islands of the Great Bear Rainforest, coastal wolves can also be found on Vancouver Island. Unlike their inland cousins which primarily hunt deer and caribou, coastal wolves make up the majority of their diet from what the ocean provides.
Able to swim for miles between islands in their search for food, coastal wolves have been known to hunt seals and sea lions, feast on herring eggs at low tide, and even prey on salmon for several months out of the year. In fact, wild salmon make up approximately 25 percent of the coastal wolf’s diet.
Here on Canada’s Pacific coast, coastal wolves have had a unique relationship with Indigenous communities for whom the wolf is treated with great admiration and respect. Sadly, they face many human-caused threats including hunting, trapping, and industrial development. Clear-cut logging and road building through their habitat has made it far easier for hunters to gain access to coastal wolves.
Thankfully, they still have not been persecuted to the extent of their continental inland kin. Because of this, coastal wolves have maintained much of their genetic biodiversity and are considered by many to be an Evolutionarily Significant Unit that deserve greater protection and special conservation status.
Join the call for a moratorium on trophy hunting wolves in B.C.
Earlier this year, hunting and trapping of coastal wolves on Vancouver Island made headlines after the killing of two wolves in the Sooke/Metchosin area. The event has sparked public outcry leading to a call for a moratorium on sport and trophy hunting of wolves in B.C. from Cheryl Alexander and Takaya’s Legacy Project, a call which has been supported by the mayor of Sooke, Maja Tait.
Currently, the hunting of wolves is largely unrestricted, and no mandatory inspection or reporting is required when a wolf is killed. All but two regions in B.C. have no limits on the number of wolves killed, and no oversight. This means there is no reliable data on the total number of wolves killed each year or the circumstances of their deaths.
Decision makers at the table determining wildlife management in British Columbia are dominated by hunters, guide outfitters, big agriculture and government biologists – conservation voices and independent biologists require a greater say to reflect public values. Wolves are an integral part of coastal and inland ecosystems and remain one of our greatest icons of our quickly disappearing wild lands and waters.