Today is wolf awareness day. Tommy Happynook from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth nation on Vancouver Island, shares a deep connection to wolves. Tommy reflects on the ways in which wolves, and thereby his peoples, are affected by colonialism and the destruction of lands.
Whether you live on the B.C. coast or in the interior of this province, you are likely living with wolves as neighbours. Across North America and Mexico (Turtle Island) there are six main species of wolves.
Coastal sea wolves are found along the west coast of the continent, and are known in Alaska as Alexander Archipelago wolves. They are slight compared to interior gray wolves, and colours range from white, through golden and golden/gray to dark brown.
Coastal sea wolves are opportunists in terms of their diet, deriving approximately 85% of their diet from the marine environment. From mussels, clams and herring roe, to salmon returning to estuaries, and right up to marine mammals, these wolves specialize in the intertidal zones. Strong swimmers, they will travel great distances between coastal islands seeking prey.
Like their interior counterparts, sea wolves live in packs with strong hierarchies and roles, and most adult wolves in the pack help care for pups.
why celebrate international wolf day?
Wolves have been persecuted around the world for hundreds of centuries, in many cases eradicated from their environments.
In the past 25 years, conservation and protection efforts have been emerging on many continents in recognition of the role wolves play in ecosystem engineering, prey health and genetics, and maintaining biodiversity balance. Many countries are reintroducing wolves after wiping them out in the last century, and in other places wolf and conservation advocates have been pushing back against ill-thought out and reactionary ‘culling’ programs.
- Pacific Wild has submitted 500,000 signatures to the B.C. Provincial Legislature calling for an end to the aerial cull in our province
- Pacific Wild has taken the B.C. government to the B.C. Supreme Court arguing the illegality of the inhumane and ineffective aerial killing program
- Cheryl Alexander told the story of Takaya, the lone wolf of Discovery Island, and has kept the story of his life and terrible death at the hands of a hunter on Vancouver Island alive since 2020
- In the US, a wolf treaty (The Wolf: A Treaty of Cultural and Environmental Survival) was created by the Global Indigenous Council that attracted the signatures of over 700 Native American Tribes and First Nations in Canada and the US, and was instrumental in keeping wolves on the endangered species list in the U.S. in 48 states.
- Activists in Sweden and Norway are fighting to protect wolves returning after a 150-year absence.
- Since a ban on wolf hunting was enacted in 2016, the Romanian Carpathian mountains are now home to between 2500-3000 wolves.
Share your wolf story
For International Wolf Day, we invite you to share your stories about wolves you’ve seen, signs of wolves, and what wolves mean to you… from anywhere in the world using the form below.
You can also submit your photo for a chance to be featured on our website and social media channels. Deadline for submissions is midnight on September 5, 2022.