A recent Raincoast Conservation Foundation research study in British Columbia has shown there are significant differences between gray wolves and the coastal variety. Chris Darimont from UC-Santa Cruz has a doctorate in wolf ecology and was one of the researchers studying the unique wolves for the last five years. “They are truly island wolves. They swim between foraging patches on islands, such as in the Broken Group or Clayoquot Sound. We are saying, tongue-in-cheek, that this is our newest marine mammal,” stated Darimont. On the coast and neighboring islands there are only small deer to provide meat, so they adapted to using seafood in their diets. On the islands furthest away from the mainland, 75% of their food intake comes from the sea.
It has been estimated that there are perhaps several thousand of them, but no official count has been conducted. Like many species the world over they are threatened by habitat loss. Declining salmon populations also affect their stability. Unfortunately the mindset which sees them as trophies for hunting persists in some people, so wolves are killed essentially for vanity purposes. There are no hunting permits required to kill them, but there is a limit of three annually per hunter. Trappers reportedly can kill as many as they want because the wolf’s status is defined as a game animal and furbearer.