Science and ethics of wolf conservation

An excerpt from our annual report, Tracking Raincoast into 2023.

Spring 2022 marked the start of our pilot year studying wolves on BC’s south coast. With the support of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, we deployed remote cameras and acoustic recorders in a tributary valley of the Lower Fraser River. In this salmon-bearing watershed, we detected multiple species, including wolves, grizzly bears, and cougars, among several other mammals of cultural and ecological value.

Following our wildlife welfare ethic, 2023 will see us continuing our application and advancement of non-invasive approaches for monitoring wolves. As we develop a workflow to identify individuals via their distinct howls and unique pelage colour patterns, our goal is to transition away from conventional approaches to the scientific study of wolves that can be highly invasive, expensive, and logistically challenging.

We will also employ a variety of measures to understand large carnivore movements and foraging behaviour in relation to prey abundance and ecological processes that support climate change adaptation, such as nutrient transfer and carbon sequestration. Through this research, we hope to shift the provincial management of gray wolves away from a poorly-informed and exploitation-based model, which relies on culls and recreational killing, to one that respects the welfare of wolves and their important role in functioning ecosystems.

Cheslea Greer setting up a trail cam.
Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
Two people looking at a trail cam with a photo of a cougar on it.
Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
Trail cam photo of a wolf walking through a forest.
Photo by Chelsea Greer/ Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

In summer 2022, we published an extension of our photography ethics policy, “An ethical approach to wolf photography,” noting the sensitivity of wolves and the importance of putting wildlife, and their environment, first.

To continue our commitment to science, ethics, and public education, 2023 will see us launching our second season of Wolf School alongside a new article series called Wolf Stories. Through these two projects, we will facilitate conversations with ethicists, scientists, biologists, and Indigenous Knowledge Holders to improve public understanding of the ethical, philosophical, and social dimensions of predator management. These efforts, paired with our pilot research project, will inform Raincoast’s ethical policies and practices, which are inextricably linked to our scientific research and foundational to the advancement of our conservation objectives.

Beautiful display of design of inside pages and cover of Tracking Raincoast into 2023.

We are so excited to share our annual report – Tracking Raincoast Into 2023 – with you! Tracking gives you highlights from the year, our science, flagship projects, as well as a peek at what’s in store for the coming year.

Dive into Tracking and learn more about our work safeguarding coastal carnivores in the Southern Great Bear Rainforest tenure. We are currently raising funds to stop commercial trophy hunting in more than a quarter of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. Now is a good time to sign up and stay connected to our community of researchers and change-makers.