Wolves on BC island genetically different from those on mainland

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, June 10, 2014 7:54AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 10, 2014 4:46PM EDT

VICTORIA — British Columbia has two breeds of wolves, the ferocious mainland animals that compete with grizzly bears for food and territory, and the laid-back island variety that prefers their terrain predator-free while scavenging the sea shore, says a new study out of the University of Victoria.

The often pastoral landscapes of many of B.C.’s ocean islands compared to the province’s rugged, mountainous mainland has helped create what conservation scientist Chris Darimont said is a mellow breed of wolf — one that digs for clams and snags salmon rather than spending its days roaming vast stretches of territory in search of food while competing with grizzly bears.

The study was conceived and initiated by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation starting as far back as 2001.

Darimont, a professor at UVIC and the research chair at the Hakai-Raincoast lab, said there are obvious differences between wolves on the mainland and those found on B.C.’s islands, even those located less than 1,500 metres from the mainland…

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