The Coastal Wolf: Not Your Average Canine
Think about The Great Bear Rainforest. Think about all the animals that live there. You know: seals, otters, eagles, salmon, deer, wolves, whales, bears. Of all the animals that call the Great Bear Rainforest home, you’re probably thinking that the apex predator—the one that eats pretty much anything it wants—is the bear, right?
Wrong. Try something that’s about one fifth the size and one tenth the weight of your standard bear.
It’s the coastal wolf.
Adult wolves have no natural predators. Pups are sometimes swiped by cougars, eagles or bears, sure—but nobody messes with the grown-ups.
Coastal wolves are the last truly wild group of wolves anywhere in the world. Some of them have never even seen a human being before. Out here in the Great Bear Rainforest at the western edge of British Columbia, things are different than everywhere else. On the coast, wolves haven’t been hunted to the brink of extinction like they have been in other parts of North America. They’ve existed for centuries in this place, side by side in a delicate balance of nature with the other species and the many First Nations groups that call this place home.
But that balance is slowly changing. And it’s humans who are to blame.
Speaking Out for the Great Bear Rainforest
With every passing year, humans are moving deeper into the coastal wolves’ territory. Hunting continues unchecked, fish farms spread disease to wild salmon and overfishing jeopardizes healthy salmon stocks. Plans are underway to run a pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to BC’s coast—straight through the Great Bear Rainforest. That means oil tankers may one day travel in these waters, putting the wolves’ entire livelihood in danger if there should ever be a spill. Even offshore oil drilling in BC’s waters is a future possibility—and the recent drilling rig catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico shows us just how much of a disaster that can be.
It’s not too late to make a difference though. There’s a lot you can do. First off, get informed. Read as much as you can, starting with The Sea Wolves: Living Wild in the Great Bear Rainforest. Watch documentaries online. Ask your teacher for links to websites where you can learn more. It’s important that you become as informed and knowledgeable about your subject as possible. That way, people will sit up and listen when you speak.
Remember, you have a lot of power. Although you’re not a voter yet, you have a voice. Write to your elected representative and explain your thoughts about what’s happening in the Great Bear Rainforest. Be sure to express your concerns clearly, and back them up with facts, details and examples from the reading you’ve done. Don’t just say it’s a bad situation and demand that the government protect the Great Bear Rainforest. Instead, suggest specific solutions for the problems that are facing the forest and its animal citizens. You’ll be able to get your point across more clearly if you are very specific in your requests.
Shrink Your Ecological Footprint
You’ve heard about ecological footprints, right? We’re talking about the impact you have on the environment every day—the amount of demand you’re putting on the Earth’s ecosystems by the way you live your life. Do you prefer to drive to the store rather than hopping on your bike? Do you turn on the heat instead of putting on a sweater? Those are the kinds of day-to-day choices we make that affect the size of our ecological footprint.
Your ecological footprint represents the actual amount of land and sea you’d need to sustain your lifestyle. Think you wouldn’t gobble up too much space? Maybe. Maybe not. Most people in North America live as though we’ve got three or four planets to sustain us. But we know there’s only one. Something’s got to change.
To get a grip on your ecological footprint, visit Global Footprint Network. See how much you’re asking of the Earth. And then see what you can do to ask just a little bit less.
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The Sea Wolves
by Ian McAllister and
Also by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read:
The Salmon Bears
by Ian McAllister and