City Center becomes free-range wolf habitat

Illustration by Cara Seccafien
Illustration by Cara Seccafien

Hundreds of North American grey wolves now run free in Surrey

By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer


Wolves have been successfully reintroduced to the Surrey downtown core, the BC Parks Services happily reported Monday morning. Around 300 of them, most of them large enough to kill a human, now wander free and unchecked in the City Center and Scottsdale areas. They’re expected to grow to a population of several thousand and spread across the Lower Mainland, focused mostly in suburbs and Surrey’s fast-growing city center.

“We expect absolutely minimal lethal risk to humans,” said Park Ranger Tess Guy, optimistically. “Casualties are expected to be only around 50 people devoured by wolves per year, and even then, most of them would just be children.”

The wolves being reintroduced are North American grey wolves, which are as large as the mastiff dog breed, and considerably more dangerous. They hunt in packs of up to dozens, and can take down prey as large as a woolly mammoth. They were common in the Lower Mainland until the end of the last Ice Age, leading some scientists to suspect a link between wolves in Vancouver and global climate change. The Hakai Institute, a biodiversity research group, points to the fact that water levels were tens of metres lower worldwide when these wolves were at their peak population ten thousand years ago. They released a statement last month, saying that “we never considered just throwing more wolves at the global warming problem. We aren’t one hundred percent on the science, but damn if we’re going to argue with a city that has 300 wolves.”

In an attempt to allow the wolves to live a more natural life in the big city, none of them were implanted with trackers. All 300 are now totally unaccounted for and could be anywhere, though they’ll likely be unable to cross the Fraser due to traffic and lack of game on the bridges. In fact, some critics of the reintroduction program pointed out that since most typical wolf prey no longer live in Surrey, humans could be targeted more than usual. BC Park Services responded by saying they “forgot about the whole food problem, but they should survive by hunting raccoons and people at the end of bus lineups.” According to scientists, the wolves are likely to never come in conflict with the geese that currently own most of Coquitlam out of a combination of fear and mutual respect.

Pet owners are warned to keep their cats and dogs inside during hunting nights, as cats will be hunted and dogs may defect to join their ancestors. Children are encouraged to do “pretty much whatever” at night, as the city aims at appealing mostly to small families.