Standing in silence, eyes glued to the creek, we wait. Marven Robinson, a Coastal Guardian Watchman, Ecotour Operator, Knowledge Holder and member of the Gitga’at Nation Bear Monitoring Project with Raincoast and UVic in Gitga’at Territory, lets out an impressive howl.
We listen for a response, but, nothing. Perhaps the nearby landslide, one of many recent slides in the Territory, had forced the pack to find a new home.
Just as we return back to the forest, we hear a raspy reply.
“That sounded like it came from just over there,” whispers Marven. We peer through the branches and spot a young wolf walking through the sand.
“He needs to work on his howl a bit,” chuckles Marven. The young wolf takes a seat, planting his large paws into a heap of grass.
Arrooooooooooooo, replies the pack, concealed in the wilderness opposite from us.
The young wolf slowly stands up and scampers past us. We turn, and notice another larger wolf, missing a piece of its ear, laying in the meadow behind us. It is looking off into the distance, eyes half closed, as if enjoying a peaceful moment. The younger wolf runs past and jumps onto a rock, taking another seat.
As we continue to watch the two wolves, listening to their exchange of howls with the hidden pack, I feel humbled to encounter such a social, elusive, and intelligent species.
However, it’s also upsetting to think that many of their kind are thought of as pests throughout North America. The Great Bear Rainforest is home to much more than solely two species of (fabulous) bears. Cougars, wolverines, and wolves, although often overshadowed, also inhabit this region and play similarly important roles in shaping healthy ecosystems (as previous Raincoast research suggests). Wolf tracks are often seen on sandy shores along estuaries here, showing moments in time where families passed through and played.
The young wolf jumps down from the rock and trots into the forest. The older wolf follows, taking slower steps while occasionally looking back to us, as if to say “Enjoy the rest of your day”. As we leave the estuary and return to the boat, we listen to their faint howls off in the distance.
I leave more resolved than ever to Safeguard Coastal Carnivores via Coastal First Nations/Raincoast proposal to purchase remaining hunting territory tenures .
By Ilona Mihalik