Screengrab from cellphone footage by Campbell River resident Sharon Herbin. She documented a rare wolf sighting at Painter’s Lodge Resort in Campbell River on June 29, 2019.

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

The headline of this article and an associated video were edited on July 15, 2019. An associated tweet was also deleted. They previously referred to wolves on Vancouver Island as an endangered subspecies, based on an Internet source cited in the article. However, a leading wolf expert and the provincial ministry of forests said they don’t recognize wolves on Vancouver Island as a subspecies or consider the grey wolf to be endangered. More details are available in this article.

A rare wolf sighting was caught on video in northern Vancouver Island on Saturday.

Sharon Herbin, who works at Painter’s Lodge, a resort in Campbell River, captured cellphone video of the creature as it swam ashore. She was working in her office when a guide noticed the animal, originally thinking it was a bear.

Employees gathered on the docks to watch, since it’s rare to see a bear swimming, said Herbin, who supervises the resort’s marine centre.

“As it’s coming to land, all of a sudden one of the dock attendants goes, ‘It’s a wolf!’ And at basically the same time, I’m going ‘It’s a wolf!” she said. “It was (a) total shock.”

VIDEO: Takaya, the lone wolf that roams two B.C. islands, spotted on beach

It appeared to be swimming across the waters of the Discovery Passage from Gowlland Island, off Quadra Island, a distance of roughly 2.5 km. It was perhaps 30-40 feet away when it came to shore, she said, adding that it was dark in colour.

Herbin has seen wolves on a few occasions, but this was the first time she saw one so close to a populated area. It was also the first time she saw one swimming in the ocean.

In the video, the animal is hard to make out against the background, but Herbin said she’s sure it was a wolf, noting that guides who observed the animal with binoculars also confirmed that it was a wolf, not a dog.

“Once you’ve seen a wolf, you know it’s a wolf,” she said.

In the video, the animal swims ashore and then runs across the rocks towards the nearby greenery. The original video posted on Herbin’s Facebook page had been viewed more than 14,000 times by Tuesday morning.

It wasn’t the only wild animal that Herbin saw that morning. Oddly enough, a seal appears to be following the wolf. The seal’s head is visible in the original video, until the wolf climbs ashore and the seal goes underwater.

The Vancouver Island wolf is a subspecies of the mainland grey wolf and is considered endangered, according to VI-Wilds, a website maintained by the Institute for Coastal and Oceans Research at the University of Victoria.

READ MORE: Wolf attacks dog in Vancouver Island First Nation community

The estimated population is under 150, according to the website, citing 2008 figures from the Ministry of the Environment.

The animal usually stays away from human activity and is most commonly found on the North Island, along with Barkley Sound and Clayoquot Sound on the west coast.

The wolves prey on black-tailed deer and Roosevelt elk, and pursue smaller game including squirrels, rodents and beavers when larger prey are in low supply.

The VI-Wilds website says that “(s)ome controversy surrounds the wolves as they are one of the animals being blamed for the continuing decline of the Vancouver Island marmot.”

The main threat to the Vancouver Island wolf is habitat destruction. Hunting of wolves does take place, and the “active hunting of reproductive adult wolves undoubtedly has the potential to extinguish the population on Vancouver Island.”

Government-sanctioned hunts have taken place to preserve the deer population or reduce pressure on the marmot, according to VI-Wilds.


@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Art galleries innovate in a time of crisis

The pandemic crisis has forced most local art galleries to shift online,… Continue reading

Victoria police seek public’s help finding man missing more than a week

Joel Diment 26 and has short brown hair and hazel eyes

Greater Victoria donates 166 tents, 240 sleeping bags and more for those in need

Items placed in 72-hour quarantine before being distributed to help homeless self-isolate

No one injured in Saanich townhouse fire

Blaze may have been connected to fireplace use

Victoria to consider new appeals process for rejected short-term rental applications

There is not an established process in place for people seeking to reapply

COVID-19: B.C. reports 4 deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Some Cowichan schools to reopen for children of essential-services workers

Cowichan Valley will open 8 elementary schools this week

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ā€˜Sā€™

Physiotherapists turn to technology to reach patients during COVID-19

Just because services, jobs, and socializing have been put on hold, it… Continue reading

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

Most Read