Wild wolves? Understanding human wolf interactions in a coastal Canadian national park reserve
Smith, Jennifer Barbara
Master of Environmental Studies
DisciplineOutdoor Recreation, Parks & Tourism
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Opinion surveys and interviews with park users (chiefly kayakers and canoeists) in the Pacific Rim (B.C) area, to examine their attitudes about wild wolves (Canis lupus).In the Broken Group Islands unit (BGI) of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, there are increasing accounts of human-wolf interactions due to a combination o f the recent migration of wolves (Canis lupus) into the area and high human use. The wolves have begun exhibiting less wariness of humans and are learning to forage for food in areas frequented by visitors. In this island environment, paddlers (kayakers and canoeists) constitute a significant 95% of total users, a highly influential group worthy of study. These increasing human-wolf interactions have prompted park managers to explore the human dimensions of wolf management with the intention to reduce risks to both people and wolves. In response to this need, I used a mixed-methods approach (surveys and interviews) to find out what attitudes were prevalent among paddlers in this area and how people perceived and felt about wolves being in the area. During the summer months (July to September) of 2005, I collected 374 usable questionnaires and conducted interviews with 13 volunteers. The surveys illustrated that most paddlers within my sample felt wolves were important to the area for their intrinsic value and their relationship to the environment and other species. The interviews elicited a variety o f emotions, ranging from fear to curiosity to awe. Interview participants also discussed how the presence of wolves affected their experience in the BGI which ranged from moderately negative to outright positive. This research provides insight into the complex dynamics at play in wolf-human interactions within the BGI of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and, by extension, protected areas worldwide.