Where Do Wolves Live in BC?

Last Updated on May 8, 2022 by Stone

British Columbia has a problem with declining caribou herds. Loss of habitat to human activity is the primary reason however, wolves are bearing the brunt. It is easier to kill them off than take steps to protect BC’s wilderness. So where do wolves live in BC and what is being done to help them? Read on to find out.

Where Do Wolves Live in BC?

Wolves live on the coast and nearby islands, mountains, central interior, sub-boreal interior, boreal plains, and northern boreal mountains. British Columbia has approximately 8500 wolves and over 1400 have been killed in the last 6 years. The cull has been an ineffective approach to saving the Woodland Caribou, yet the province is forging ahead.

British Columbia’s Wolves

British Columbia is one of Canada’s 10 provinces. It is a large province about 2 1/4 times the size of California. North of the Queen Charlotte Islands, the coastline becomes Alaska, and the Canadian border moves slightly inland. Wolves in British Columbia are found on the coast and nearby mountains, Central Interior, Sub-Boreal Interior, Boreal Plains, and Northern Boreal Mountains ecoprovince.


As you can see wolves are widely found throughout the province. For a time, they were extinct from Vancouver Island but have since recolonized. Here they are mostly found on the northern part of the island, north of Campbell River, and along the west coast of the island down to Ucluelet. Not many live on the east coast but they can be found in the mountains around Nanaimo, Ladysmith, and Lake Cowichan.

British Columbia is also unique because in addition to larger Gray Wolves it is also home to the Coastal Wolf. These smaller wolves can be found on the islands and inlets of this province with its long coastline. Interestingly, the coastal wolf derives up to 90% of its diet from marine sources.

What is an Ecoprovince?

The word ecoprovince was mentioned above. In case you are wondering what that is, an ecoprovince is an area that shares similar landscapes, animals, plants, and climate. British Columbia has nine. While they are all connected, each has features that make it unique to the others.

How Many Wolves are in BC and How Many Were Just Killed?

It is estimated that there are 8500 wolves in BC. About 350 wolves on Vancouver Island. In the last 6 years 1447 wolves have been killed, 472 in 2020 alone. The biggest reason is the province’s declining caribou herds. Killing wolves it’s the only solution the province is currently endorsing, but it isn’t working and there may be a better way.

Decreasing the Potential for Encounters.

Researchers hypothesized that limiting interactions between wolves and caribou would save countless caribou lives.

As I mentioned in the article “Gray Wolves Ecosystem -Unexpected benefit“, wolves prefer to travel along man-made corridors such as logging roads, snowmobile trails, and so on when they exist. They can move around more quickly that way. 

A study that was published in June of 2021in the journal Frontier in Ecology and the Environment looked at a large area of land (92 square km or 35.5 square miles) near Fort Nelson, BC. The study was funded by the British Columbia Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society. 

Over 100 wildlife motion-sensing cameras were set up in the wilderness to track the movements of predators and prey.  The predators took advantage of human-made landscape alterations and traveled along gas and oil cutlines or trap lines in the forest to access the caribou herds.

Researchers downed trees to obstruct these paths and piled up the earth in the wetlands where the caribou are found to mimic natural hills and bulges in the landscape. 

The scientists banked on the fact that wolves and caribou are specific about the landscapes they prefer to use. The land was essentially made harder to use by the wolves and the same changes afforded protection to the caribou by decreasing encounters with wolves.

woodland caribou

The results were immediately seen with an 85% reduction in wolf-caribou encounters and a 60% in bear-caribou encounters.

The Arugument for Killing.

Wildlife officials with the BC government questioned the validity of the study stating that it only proves that fewer wolves and caribou walked past the cameras, not that fewer caribou were killed.

It is also argued that it would be an expensive solution to alter the landscape with downed trees and piles of earth widescale across the province.

There is also the fact that paths are created by other human activity such as ATV use and in the winter, snowmobiles, which would reduce the effectiveness of the barriers created. So as it stands currently, the BC government will only entertain a culling of wolves as a solution.

Legal Action Taken

In July, the environmental group, Pacific Wild, took the BC government to court because the wildlife act was amended in January 2021 to allow wolves to be trapped with a net gun from a helicopter. The wolves are then radio-collared and released.

When the wolf rejoins its pack, the location is known and the pack is found and shot by snipers from a helicopter. This is known as the Judas Tactic.

Shooting a wolf from a helicopter is an inhumane form of euthanasia. Not every wolf shot is killed right away but it is left to die in the snow as the helicopter flies away. There is no public oversight of the killing operation.

British Columbia is one of only two Canadian provinces that has not adopted the Canadian Council on Animal Care standards that guide the welfare and humane treatment of wild and domestic animals.

Wolves are intelligent, social animals that live as a family in packs. The cull exposes wolves to traumatic events where they watch pack members chased to exhaustion and shot from helicopters.

It is unfortunate because killing wolves in this manner is a lazy solution and does not address the root cause of the problem of declining caribou numbers. Researchers agree that it is the destruction of caribou’s habitat that is the primary cause of the decline, yet the province of British Columbia has no plans to prevent further habitat destruction or to restore what has already been destroyed.

To date, the wolf cull program has cost the province $2.2 million dollars.

Final Thoughts

Once again wolves are the scapegoat for the activity of man. Most mammals on earth find their natural numbers. There is a supply and demand relationship between predator and prey, one keeps the other in check. Not so with humans.

The AI-generated agent in the first matrix movie referred to humans as a virus and our planet as the host when he was interrogating Morpheus. That is a bleak summation of humanity though sometimes, it doesn’t feel too far off the mark as we watch the news and see flooding, wildfires, and huge islands of plastic floating in the ocean. There are no limits to how much we will exploit our environment to propagate ourselves at the expense of every other living thing.

By all accounts, the decline of the caribou in British Columbia is due primarily to our destruction of their habitat. Wolves do kill some caribou, but we are pinning the whole thing on them so we can keep on destroying the habitat guilt-free.

How to Help

If you would like to help with the plight of British Columbia’s wolves, check out Pacific Wild and consider a donation. Wolves are in trouble in most places they are found. Here are other ways that you could help:

This Blog Runs on Wealthy Affiliate

Wealthy Affiliate’s premium plan lets you launch up to 10 premium websites. They teach you how to make money online. It is not about getting rich quickly; you will have to work. They offer:

  • Training Certification Core Training Level 1-5 (50 lessons)
  • Bootcamp Core Training Level 1-7 (70 lessons)
  • 1000+ Training Modules All Levels Core Training
  • and 52+ Expert Classes Per Year

You can get started for free and then decide if blogging is for you. No aggressive sales tactics and click funnels or annoying YouTube-like videos from super caffeinated Gurus yelling about how they are different from all the other gurus. The best part is access to the Wealthy Affiliate community. You ask a question and the community gives you an answer in no time. If you have a problem with your site, the included site support will set you straight.

Check it out. You’ll never know if you don’t try and it’s free to try.

Sign up to Receive 3 Awesome Gifts in your Inbox!

You probably think that if you sign up this will be another spammy newsletter from a wannabe blogger that you'll have to boot to junk mail.

My Promise: There will be no spam from me, and your email address will be safe.

Would you be opposed to showing your support for wolves by subscribing?

3 Gifts for New Subscribers!!! Check your email for 25% off on Never Cry Wolves merch, a $29.99-$45.55 off code for the NeuroMD Back Pain Device, and an extended 30-day trial of Monarch Money (normally 7 days).

10 thoughts on “Where Do Wolves Live in BC?”

  1. I agree that the solution should be to make it difficult for wolves to get caribous. By creating these barriers and reducing encounters, caribous can have a chance. But killing the wolves is worse than the original problem. Thank you for giving us all the facts about this case. I will keep on researching because it’s an interesting one!

  2. Very interesting article about wolves in BC. It is sad to hear that they are blamed for killing the caribou, when it is not true at all. We know how human activity is the reason for many problems on earth. We hear it on the daily news. It is not fair to accuse the wolves and kill them. Thank you for providing clarity about what’s happening with the wolves in BC.

  3. I didnt know that you can find wolves in BC. In fact, I would love to see a wolf in real life. I have never come across one sop it would be nice to come across one. So this is a place to visit. Quick question, what are wolves good for?

    • They are an apex predator (top of the food chain). They hunt deer and keep the deer herds healthy by killing the weak, the old and the sick — the healthy ones escape. The very presence of wolves in an area with many deer can reduce the number vehicle-deer collisions

  4. Hey thanks for this article, it has opened my eyes on the wolf population in the British Columbia that I hadn’t known previously existed. This is quite a sad and painful approach to help the caribou population. I’m strictly against killing animals especially for this reason. 

    The radio collared method is just plain mean, the wolves thinking they’re living peacefully only for their lives to be taken away! I will be definitely signing a petition against this killing tactic!

  5. I am quite saddened to hear that British Columbia hasn’t really been the kindest of places for our furry, wild-life friends. 1400 is like 15% fewer than what it had 6 years. And I think that’s a lot.

    I loved the research you explained. I actually had no idea such projects existed. But I believe altering the landscape is 100% the better way to do it. It’s such a terrible reason to slaughter wildlife just because it isn’t easy or cheap to do it any other way. I think the BC government should be ashamed. Their policy really sucks. I 100% agree, as you said, it’s a lazy solution. Also, indeed, that Judas Tactic is as inhumane as they come.


Leave a Comment