Vancouver Island wolves are one of the shyest and most elusive creatures native to Vancouver Island. These rare swimming wolves are rarely seen by humans and are considered an endangered species. They are similar in size and appearance to their relative, the Grey wolf. The fur is usually a mix of grey, brown, and black in color. Occasionally, Vancouver Island wolves are seen in a pure white coat.
Vancouver Island wolves are endemic to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. They live in forests, mountains, and grasslands. Currently, they occur in the uninhabited northern coastal parts of the island, and also on the west coast, as far south as Port Renfrew.
Vancouver Island wolves are very social with other wolves and live in packs of about 5 to 35 individuals. They usually stay away from human settlements. Each pack has the leaders - the alpha male and alpha female. The alpha male and female are the oldest members of the pack and are the most experienced in hunting, defending territory, and other important activities. The alpha wolves usually lead the pack to hunt or decide when it's time to move from one place to another. Vancouver Island wolves are nocturnal animals that require a large area because the packs are very territorial.
Vancouver Island wolves are carnivores. Their main food sources are the Columbian black-tailed deer and the Roosevelt elk. They also feed on squirrels, rodents, and beaver, when larger prey is scarce.
Little is known about the mating system in Vancouver Island wolves. The breeding season occurs from January to April. Females give birth to a single litter consisting of 5-6 pups. The gestation period lasts around 60-63 days. Pups are born blind and completely dependent on their mother. The usually stay in the den for two months. The mother usually spends with her newborn pups most of the time, however, other members of the pack also help with the rearing of the young. Pups are fully weaned at 10 weeks after birth and become reproductively mature after 2-3 years of age.
The main threats to Vancouver Island wolves include hunting and the destruction of their habitat. The native range of these animals has been greatly reduced by human encroachment.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Vancouver Island wolf total population size.
Being top-level predators, Vancouver Island wolves play a very important role in their ecosystem and removal of these animals, could lead to uncontrolled growth of the deer population. This could result in overbrowsing of the undergrowth, and decline or even eliminating of many animal species which rely on the growth for food or for shelter.