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Ian McAllister The Last of the Wild Wolves

abstract:Ian McAllister’s latest book, The Last Wild Wolves: Ghosts of the Rain Forest is a collection of photographs and stories from the Great Bear Rainforest about a family of elusive Coastal Wolves. Ian and his wife Karen live on Denny island, where they have been working tirelessly to preserve BC’s threatened forest and its inhabitants.

The book is a testament of patience as well as an urgent call to action. McAllister spent days, weeks and years building the trust of the pack and waiting for the intimate photo opportunities that read like a family album of portraits from a bygone era of raw wilderness. The Great Bear Rainforest is in fact the last remaining temperate rainforest, relatively inaccessible and therefore retaining its rare magnificence—for now.


September 08, 2009
— “Today, seventy percent of this rainforest ecosystem is unprotected and threatened with industrial logging, mining and other resource extraction proposals. Many of the planet's large carnivores are threatened and declining in numbers and range due to habitat destruction, trophy hunting and poaching. Trophy hunting of large carnivores, such as grizzly bears and wolves, is sanctioned by the British Columbia government, and currently no marine protected areas have been established. Open net-cage salmon farms, seismic testing for oil and gas reserves and unsustainable fishing practices remain some of the immediate threats to the marine environment.”

The first time I met Ian he was speaking on a panel of environmentalists including Jane Goodall, discussing the environmental threats above, and he struck me as quiet, thoughtful and deeply passionate. The second time was at his own reading, and he appeared much more at ease, sharing many anecdotes of his time with his family and the wolf family in the rainforest. He told a story of having waited for ages—months in total, many hours this particular day—to get close to the wolves, and exhausted, fell asleep on a riverbank. He awoke to find the pack spread out and sleeping around him peacefully.

Ian also told some stories about the relationship between wolves and ravens he observed. When a large animal dies, the ravens cannot get through their thick skin to feed, so they need the wolves to get things started. Since the ravens have a far better view of their territory, when an animal dies they will actually alert the wolves and lead them to the meal. Ian said in all his years he has seen remains of all types of birds in the wolves’ diet, but never raven, underscoring this special, symbiotic relationship.

“The Great Bear Rainforest remains one of the richest ecosystems on the planet. The marine and terrestrial environments support predator-prey relationships that are complex, awe-inspiring and among the least studied and understood. Understanding these relationships, and others, will better assist us in developing informed land and marine use plans for wildlife in the Great Bear Rainforest. In the absence of important life history and other ecological data, conservation plans in British Columbia are not fully incorporating the needs of these species, if at all.”

To learn more about how you can support Pacific Wild and to view some of Ian’s spectacular photographs, go to The book is well worth it for the beautiful photographs and personal stories, and even better, book proceeds go to support the foundation. to see the amazing photos. to purchase the book.



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