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Rainforest Wolves: Science and Conservation


Project Coordinators:

Research Scientist
Biologist and PhD Candidate

Where else on the planet do wolves take to the sea, swimming among forested islands to feed themselves?

Where else can wolves make more than 75% of their living from marine resources like salmon, beached whales and seals?  Where else can we learn how these magnificent animals used to live, before the planet suffered extensive loss of wild wolves in most other places? In the traditional territories of several First Nations – an area known globally as the Great Bear Rainforest – wolves live a unique and precious existence, and one we work hard to safeguard.

Our Vision

Our vision is to ensure that Rainforest Wolves can continue their wild ways amidst an uncertain future marked by challenges against which they have no evolved defenses – climate change, industrial forestry, fisheries, trophy hunting, increasing marine traffic, exotic diseases, and others. We must consider carefully what wolves require in the face of these threats.

To that end, we continue to gain scientific understanding about the Great Bear Rainforest’s wolf population, we work with local communities, and we pioneer creative real-world solutions. Our research uncovers basic ecology that until recently had not been documented.  For example:

  • Where are the wolves in this vast archipelago landscape?
  • What feeds them?
  • How many of them move through these forests?
  • What are the details of their evolutionary history?

Informed advocacy

All of our work goes through a rigorous and scholarly peer-review process, ensuring that our conservation recommendations are well grounded and defensible.

Our partnerships with local communities, especially the Heiltsuk Nation of Bella Bella, have granted us unique insight into the lives of wolves. This partnership has the additional benefit of simultaneously fostering renewed cultural interest in wolves.

And where we can, we go ‘straight to solution’ in applied conservation. In 2005, in an unprecedented move, supporters helped us buy out – and extinguish – the commercial rights to trophy hunt wolves and other carnivores in a massive portion of this landscape.

Current Projects:

Salmon Carnivore Project

Despite the needs of wildlife, fisheries are managed only for humans.  The Salmon Carnivore team uses DNA, isotopes and hormones to examine the relationship between salmon abundance and the health of coastal grizzlies.  Read more…

Animal Welfare Considerations

While not a project persay, Raincoast’s philosophy on animal welfare and non-invasive research started with the wolf program.  We actively encourage a ‘wildlife welfare’ ethic among our staff and other conservationists.   Read more…


Parasites and Infectious Diseases

Dogs in coastal communities can act as sentinels of diseases in wolves.  The wolf team uses blood (from dogs) and scat (from wolves) to understand emerging threats to canids.  Read more…


Scientific papers

The Raincoast wolf team has published their research in top journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesEcology, Conservation Genetics, Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society, Journal of Animal Ecology, the Canadian Journal of Zoology and many more.  Click here for a the full list and downloads.


Last Stand of the Great Bear

Done in production with National Geographic, this trailer highlights the full length feature on large carnivores and Raincoast’s work to protect them.


Produced for Discovery Channel, this award-winning documentary captures Raincoast’s research on British Columbia’s unique coastal wolves.

Audio Interviews

Unnatural Selection CBC’s Quirks and Quarks

CBC’s Bob McDonald, host of Quirks and Quarks, interviews Raincoast’s Dr. Chris Darimont, an NSERC postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of California.

Frankly deer, I don’t give a damn. CBC’s As it Happens

CBC’s Carol Off interviews Raincoast’s Dr. Chris Darimont about BC’s salmon-eating wolves on the program ‘As it Happens’



Human-driven Evolution NPR’s Science Friday

Ira Flatow, host of NPR’s Science Friday, interviews Raincoast’s Dr. Chris Darimont on the impacts of human predation on the evolution of species.

Media and news coverage

From the New York Times, the Smithsonian, and the Guardian to local and regional weeklies, the Raincoast Wolf Team spreads the word about the wonder of our coastal wolves.


Popular Reports

Popular reports capture the broader knowledge gained from almost a decade of scientific research on wolves.  They provide general overviews and convey our research findings within the context of prevailing philosophies used to manage wildlife and habitat.

Popular writing

Last Wild WolvesThe last wild Wolves: Ghosts of the Great Bear Rainforest (2007)

By Ian McAllister and Raincoast’s Dr. Chris Darimont, with foreword by Raincoast’s Dr. Paul Paquet.

Published by Greystone Books (Canada), University  of California – Berkeley Press (USA), Frederking & Thaler (Germany). 100% of Darimont and Paquet’s revenues donated to the Heiltsuk First Nation Qqs Society in support of science and cultural youth camps at Koeye.

Click here for a complete list of Raincoast’s popular writing on wolves


To support this work, click here

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