The Wolf: A Brief Encounter, Vancouver Island

A regular daybreak walk turned into a full on wildlife encounter. Then later it turned into a lesson in conservation management.

The day before the encounter I’d been chatting to someone and I was told about how fabulous the Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet was.

So rather than taking my day-break stroll along the beach near Tofino I decided to get up a little earlier and drive to Ucluelet and try out the famously scenic path that traces around the rugged coastline behind the town.

The grey Wolf appears in vancouver

I parked the car up just as the sun was rising over the hills to the East and set off around the trail. The view from the Amphitrite Lighthouse was stunning as the first light of the day silhouetted the islands to the South.

BaldHiker Retreats

I took a few landscape shots with a wide-angle lens and then, just on impulse, switched lens to a 70-200 mm. This turned out to be a great move for as soon as I turned to continue around the track …. bam … a wolf! …..

wolf of Vancouver Island

The wolf didn’t seem to mind by presence and it quietly trotted along the path a few yards from me – eye balling me as it passed right by – and I managed to get these few decent shots before it disappeared down the track.

Grey Wolves

Grey wolves, (Canus Lupus) or timber wolves, are canines with long bushy tails that are often black-tipped. Their coat colour is typically a mix of grey and brown with buffy facial markings and undersides, but the colour can vary from solid white to brown or black. They can run at 36 to 38 MPH. Wolves mate for life and a litter of wolves is usually 4 to 6 pups and the pups are born deaf and blind with bright blue eyes. Did you know that a pack of wolves can range from 2 to over 30 wolves? 

Are grey wolves the largest wolf?

Wolves vary in size depending on where they live. Wolves in the north are usually larger than those in the south. The average size of a wolf’s body in adults have roughly a nose-to-tail length between 4.5 and 6ft (1.4 to 1.8m), a height at the shoulder from 26 to 32 inches (66 to 81cm), Females typically weigh 60 to 100 pounds, and males weigh 70 to 145 pounds.

Are grey wolves on the Endangered list?

The grey wolf in the contiguous 48 United States except for experimental packs of Mexican grey wolves living in the American Southwest had long been on the federal government’s list of endangered species, which includes both threatened and endangered populations.

In October of 2020, wolves were removed from the Endangered Species Act across the contiguous U.S in a controversial move. In Alaska the grey wolf thrives in such numbers that it is neither threatened nor endangered.

The Wolf: An encounter

I’ve since read up a little on the wolves of Vancouver Island.  The Vancouver Island wolf is a subspecies of grey wolf, endemic to northern Vancouver Island within the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. It lives in packs of about five to twenty.

Seeing a coastal wolf like this is usually very rare, especially near human habitation. A local nature guide I discussed it with compared the sighting to seeing a unicorn!

The Wolf looks at me

However, I did read in the local paper later that there have been quite a few sightings of a dark wolf in Ucluelet this summer.

The Parks Department are worried that someone might have been feeding a wolf. This would not be a good idea; not only for the residents of Ucluelet but also for the wolf because if it gets too habituated to humans it might have to be put down.

I have now reported my sighting to Parks Canada. They suggested I post their advice on such sighting – just in case anyone else goes for a morning stroll and has a brief encounter with a wolf.

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  1. The GypsyNesters says:

    Wow, great shots! So true that humans feeding wildlife can have very bad consequences. People who don’t know any better think they are helping the animals, but they are not! Thanks for posting this.

  2. One of the worst things people can do is feed wildlife. There are sings everywhere in the national parks in Alberta and I still see people feeding wild animals. These people don’t realize that animals often have to be relocated or put down because people like them have fed the animal. It’s sad that people are too naive to realize that a few moments of fun and wonder for them could cause the animal to become habituated and perhaps killed because of their actions.

  3. Great shot!
    We went for a morning walk at Long Beach a few years back. It was early May and the beach was deserted. We were fortunate to see a wolf near Combers beach. I took a picture which I sent to Bob Hansen who I believe is a Park biologist. It turned out that this was one of two wolves who had finished off a dying sea lion. I didn’t get close and just had a point and shoot style camera at the time.
    We are still wondering if the two wolves were the ones killed by some angry Tofino residents after some dogs were killed by wolves.

  4. Just when you think the world is not so raw and wild…another great tale of adventure outside the box on your own doorstep. Keep up the adventuring, and stay safe.

  5. Anna / The Blonde Banana says:

    This is so cool / scary at the same time!

  6. Hi Tom, the black wolf is indeed an authentic specimen – I have checked with Park Rangers based on your picture as well – great shots by the way!
    Your Russian/Canadian friend from Tofino.

  7. Awesome encounter! I heard that grizzly bears are making their way onto the main part of the island now too. I wonder where the rest of this guy’s pack is…?

    1. Jack Romines says:

      Fantastic. Thanks for making it available. I like wolves.

  8. Mike Blake says:

    Awesome close encounter and stunning images! Thanks for posting. Cheers!

  9. Paddy Waller says:

    Lovely sighting and photos…what a unique experience!

    1. Mary Dever says:

      What a wonderful surprise for you.

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