Coastal Wolves: Science and Conservation
Paul Paquet, Senior Scientist
Chris Darimont, Research Scientist
Heather Bryan, Research Scientist
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.
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. 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 defences – 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.
- 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?
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.
Salmon Carnivore Project
Despite the needs of wildlife, fisheries are managed only for humans. The Salmon Carnivore Project uses DNA, isotopes and hormones to examine the relationship between salmon abundance and the health of coastal grizzlies.
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 from parasites and infectious diseases to canids.
Audio interviews with Raincoast
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.
Journal article on the stress that hunting causes wolves
Journal Paper: Heavily hunted wolves have higher stress and reproductive steroids than wolves with lower hunting pressure…
Stress affects wolves in hunting grounds, and it may alter their evolution: study
Canadian Press / Globe and Mail
Wolves in areas that are heavily hunted have higher stress and reproductive hormones compared with those under lower hunting pressure…
Heavily hunted wolves more stressed, study says
Sarah Petrescu / Times Colonist
Wolves in areas of Canada where they are heavily hunted experience higher levels of stress and reproductive hormones…
Wolves: Hunting Affects Stress, Reproduction, and Sociality
Marc Bekoff / Psychology Today
A study just published in the journal Functional Ecology shows that heavily hunted wolves show changes…
Wolves on BC island genetically different from those on mainland
Dirk Meissner / The Canadian Press
Wolf researchers from Raincoast and UVic find that island wolves have diet that consists of marine foods, up to 75 per cent…
Coastal wolves distinct from their mainland cousins says Raincoast
Sarah Petrescu of the Times Colonist writes about Raincoast’s long term wolf study which reaffirms the genetic, ecological and behavioural differences between coastal and mainland wolves