Tofino WildlifePacific Rim AnimalsUcluelet Species

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Wildlife on The Pacific Rim is abundant. Over two million visitors per year come to the West Coast of Vancouver Island to be close to the rich, diverse un-tamed wilderness, they come to see the temperate rainforest, and luscious old growth, breathe the fresh crisp clean air of the Pacific Northwest. Amidst this un-tamed landscape of Mother Nature, is diverse species of land and marine wildlife. Eagles are very common to see on Vancouver Islands West Coast. Eagles nests sit visible high in the tree tops. Wildlife in it's rich abundance is truly a wonder, and the remote forests along the Pacific Rim Coastline are home to abundant wildlife and marine wildlife. Some of the species often seen on the Pacific Rim are Black Bear's (Ursus americanus) many deer, racoons, wolves, sea otters, seals, sea lions, whales many species of birds.


On the Pacific Rim, there are many tours that offer visitors a safe alternative to viewing wildlife, such as bears or Whale Watching from out on the water. These guides are experienced in knowing what a good safe distance is to keep from these awesome creatures. It is both educational and an experience of a lifetime to see these creatures in their natural habitat, and tours are a great way to view wildlife because there is a lot to learn about how each species lives, survives, what they eat and the guides have researched this information and provide information during the tour. However you do not necessarily have to go out on a tour in search of wildlife! It is very common to see Bald Eagles, Seagulls, many shorebirds, Black Bear's, Sea Otters, Sea lions and Deer on the Pacific Rim. There are certain spots during the Summer and Fall known too many locals, where it is a given on any day to go to see Black Bears. Places where there is salmon, attract bears!

Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

Black bears weigh up to 900 pounds. Black bears are usually seen alone. They only generally come into contact with other bears to mate. When an abundant food source is found such as Salmon, the Black Bears will often congregate and form a social hierarchy. The dietary mainstay for Black Bears is Vegetation because it is easily digestible being many of the nutrients are in fluid form. Berries are also commonly eaten by Black Bears. Anywhere salmon can be found, bears can be found. Bears love salmon!

Why do we fear bears?

We fear bears because there is a lot of printed warnings, warnings parks, articles which contain warnings in newspapers, and sadly people that are not familiar with bears seeing literature all over about warnings, creates apprehension and fear of these magnificent creatures. Warnings are in place most times as a liability for National Parks, or to avoid lawsuits in the event there was an attack, not to say attacks are common, actually bear attacks are very rare. There are some warnings which are unfounded, and as a general rule of thumb, if you keep in check that bears are wild animals, and wild animals should never be approached, that is the number one thing to keep in mind. Some authors emphasize danger, because fear sells. Remember Little Red Riding Hood and the monstrous wolf? Sadly as kids many of us gain a sense of fear, and then throughout the years well meaning educators and presenters will report on what sells, fear.

Keeping wildlife safe and doing our part

Garbage and bears and feeding the bears is a never ending issue on the West Coast. The end result is tragic. Once a bear becomes un fearful of humans, he/she moves closer into the areas where he/she can gain easy access to garbage, or closer to where he /she believes there are easy food sources. At first one might feel, how can feeding this bear a cracker create an issue, Bears are smart animals, they very quickly realize that humans will give food. Once they come into town, and into more populated areas.....remember in the last paragraph, we always need to keep a safe distance from wildlife, as any wildlife presents unpredictability? Conservation officers have no choice but to destroy the bear. They try there best to relocate the bear in some situations, but usually this is not effective, because by this point the bear is smart enough where he ends up right back in the villages expecting to be given food. It is a truly sad situation, and it's best to remember anytime you leave garbage accessible, or feed a Bear, it is one of the most harmful things you could do, because in the end, the bear will likely lose his/her life.

Black Bears are amazing to see! There are many safe ways to view bears during your trip to Tofino/Ucluelet. For recommended places to go, or tours call Natural Elements Vacation Rentals at 1 866 985 WEST(9378)

Please join us in keeping this area abundant in Black Bears, and never leave garbage/food out or feed the Bears!

Always exercise caution around any wild animal, don't approach, don't corner, and view from a safe distance.

The Cougar( Puma concolor couguar)

Cougars on Vancouver Island appear reddish brown in color. A fully grown male weighs around 70kg.Of the estimated 4000 cougars in Canada, 3500 live in BC! Of this nearly ¼ live on Vancouver Island, which has the highest level of concentration in the world. Adult male cougars are highly territorial controlling an average territory of 207km2. Conflict with humans continues to be a threat to this species. Hungry and stressed animals will, as a last resort, move down into settled lands in an attempt to find food, and can kill farm animals or family pets. When this happens, typically the animal is destroyed by conservation officers, who are called to protect the community from the cougar.

Major threats

Habitat destruction is the major risk to this species. As communities move further into the cougar's habitat, the available range for the animals is reduced. Fragmentation is a serious threat as well, as cougars are generally unwilling to have their territory divided by roads, farmland, or settlements, and will be forced further into the forests, often into another cougar's territory, resulting in stress and conflict among the local populations. Overall, the cougar population is thought to be healthy. Given the vast population of their main prey item, the black-tailed deer, with protection of the cougar's habitat and the limitation of hunting, the current population will likely remain stable in the long term.

Why are they Important to Vancouver Island:

As a top predator, similar to the wolves, the cougar is an important control for lower trophic levels, starting with the deer. As well, given that Vancouver Island is such a stronghold for this species in BC, the protection of the population on the island could serve as an important founding colony if local extirpations occur in other areas of Canada or the Northwest.

Killer Whale
(Orcinus orca)

Killer whales are social animals living in pods of four to 40 from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Each pod has a unique system of calls that help them distinguish each other from many miles away.

Killer whales are top predators in the ocean. They require up to 5% off their body weight in food each day and an abundant and reliable food source is essential. By hunting with their pod, killer whales are able to catch fish, seals, dolphins and even mammoth blue whales.

Steller Sea Lion
Eumetopias jubatus

Steller sea lions are the largest member of the seal family and are distinguished by their long flippers and yellowish colour. Starting off life as pups weighing around 40 lbs, they put on mass quickly and weigh an average 600 lbs for females and 1,200 lbs for males.

California Sea Lion
Zalophus californianus

Steller and California sea lions often live in the same areas. California sea lions can be distinguished by their smaller size and darker fur, as well as by their sound; California sea lions make barking noises, whereas steller sea lions growl.

Grey Whale
Eschrichtius robustus

Each year, thousands of grey whales migrate over 20,000 km from the Beaufort Sea to the Baja Peninsula. This spectacular sight can be seen all along the coast line and is one of nature's most impressive shows.

Grey whales feed on a diet of bottom-dwelling molluscs. To feed, a grey whale swims to the sea floor, turns sideways and pushes its head through the top-layer of sediment, filtering food.

Humpback Whale
Megaptera novæanglia

Humpbacks are distinguished by extremely long flippers (up to a third of their body length), butterfly-shaped tail flukes and the small dorsal fin. The colouration on their tale flukes is unique to each whale. They can weigh up 36 tonnes (80,000 lbs) and, unusually for mammals, females are larger than males.

The name "humpback" comes from the high arch of their backs while diving.

American Mink
Mustela vison

Mink are members of the same animal family as weasels, wolverines and polecats, and are distinguished by their long bodies, short legs and pointy faces.

Mink spend their days in forested areas near rivers or the sea shore. They are solitary animals and males are very territorial. A mink's territory is established using visual, auditory and, especially, chemical signals.

Vancouver Island Wolf
Canis lupus crassodon

The Vancouver Island wolf is a sub-species of the grey wolf. They are highly social animals, living in packs of five to 35 wolves. Life in the wolf pack is dominated by rank and being near the top means eating first and the first choice of mate. The Vancouver Island wolf is an endangered species; moreover, it is very shy. You are much more likely to hear them howling in the still West Coast night than to see one in person.

River Otter
Lontra Canadensis

River otters are solitary animals that spend their lives roaming vast waterways in search of food. When they are still young, river otters spend their days diving, burrowing, sliding and throwing mud at each other. These play games help the young otters gain motor skills and dexterity. By the time they are adults, river otters can run up to 30 km/h on land and stay underwater for up to eight minutes.

Sea Otter
Enhydra lutris kenyoni

Sea otters are very rare in the Pacific Rim. Their pelts were once worth over $1,000 each and the fur trade wreaked havoc on their population. They spend much of their day foraging in kelp beds, cracking mollusc shells open using a rock or other tool, and will often wash their food before eating it. At night, they secure themselves by wrapping their bodies in kelp and sleep floating on their backs.