Friday, 13 March 2009


Have you ever seen headless salmon littering the banks of rivers and streams during spawning season? Most who have generally blame our local bears for this selective dining. The real culprits are coastal wolves who gorge themselves on the nutrient-rich brains, leaving the rest to scavengers.

It seems this preference for fish and a redish tinge to their pelts set our local wolves apart. Coastal wolves, from Alaska and Vancouver Island, have not only adapted to their local environment but have evolved into something altogether new.

Think Darwin's finches.

Researchers from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation have published in this month's Journal of Biogeography, that our coastal wolves, "are like no other wolves." Well, we could have told them that, but no one listens until a paper gets published.

Grey wolves (Canis lupus), coastal wolves and our household pets (Canis lupus familiaris) share a common ancestry but at some point our coastal wolves have broken from the pack. With genetic differences that, "are striking and their ecology is very, very different."

So it seems everything old is new again.