Video shows rare coastal wolf swimming in B.C. waters
A Vancouver Island woman managed to capture something on video last Sunday that experts say is extremely rare. Maxine Gillette calls it a once in a lifetime experience.
"The general location is Union Island," said Gillette.
Gillette was on a water taxi near Union Island near the northwest tip of Vancouver Island after a day of shopping in Campbell River when the coastal wolf swam by.
"I just instantly went to the back of the boat because I wanted to record this beautiful sight of the wolf swimming, and I wanted to get proper photos of it," she said.
Being from the remote community of Kyuquot, near Union Island, it’s not the first time she has seen a wolf.
"I’ve basically just seen them in our village," she said. "There has been one that was hanging out around here."
Gary Allan with SWELL Wolf Education Centre is familiar with wolves and their behaviour.
"They are called the ghost of the forest," he said.
He and his late wolf-dog, Tundra, spent years touring schools and educating students on the rarely observed animals.
Gary Allan and Tundra visit a school in Nanaimo, B.C. (CTV News)He says the wolf population on Vancouver Island is very healthy.
"It’s probably between 300 and 350," said Allan.
The majority of those are not referred to as coastal wolves, instead living north of Campbell River in hills far away from people.
The wolf Gillette captured on camera is a coastal wolf and their numbers are much fewer.
"I’ll venture a guess of maybe about 75," said Allan.
Known to swim between islands up to eight kilometres apart, coastal wolves are crepuscular animals, meaning they are generally most active at dawn and dusk.
"The reason we don’t see them very much is they could be swimming at nighttime and we’re just not out there," said Allan.
Meaning capturing a coastal wolf swimming on camera is something that may never happen again for Gillette.
"It was amazing," said the island woman. "I’m super grateful for where I live and what I get to experience up here."
This story has been updated to correct the definition of crepuscular. The term describes animals that are most active in twilight hours at dawn and dusk.
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