A species unique to the Pacific Coast
Coastal wolves can only be found in southwestern Alaska and west of the Coast Mountain Range, which separates coastal from interior areas of British Columbia. In BC, this includes the Great Bear Rainforest, many islands and archipelagos in the Salish Sea (including Vancouver Island), and along BC’s coast.
Coastal wolves’ biology and ecology includes a unique diet heavily influenced by marine resources, distinct behaviours such as swimming in the open ocean between landmasses, and morphological differences to their interior conspecifics, such as darker pelage, smaller size, and distinct cranial and dental morphology. Coastal wolves are fast, powerful swimmers who often paddle miles between islands in search of food. Along the vast coastlines of the rainforest, they have been observed efficiently foraging in salmon streams, scavenging for shellfish and herring eggs, and feasting on seals and washed up whale carcasses.
Our partnerships with local communities, such as the Heiltsuk Nation of Bella Bella, have granted us unique insight into the lives of wolves. In 2014, a long term science study by Raincoast and our Heiltsuk partners revealed what First Nations have always known – coastal wolves are distinct from their mainland cousins. This study re-affirmed there are genetic, ecological and behavioural differences between coastal and mainland wolves that live in close proximity to each other.