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The Newfoundland Wolf is Back


People have been saying wolves in Newfoundland have been extinct for around 100 years, claiming the last known sighting to have been anywhere between 1911 and 1930, but is that really true? A quick wiki search will tell you the Newfoundland wolf (a subspecies of the grey wolf) is long gone and that the only canine on the island is the coyote, which was recently introduced. But things are not always as they seem, and just like it was thought the black bear had long left Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula (there were three sightings in the summer of 2018 of black nears on the Avalon) the wolf may not have gone anywhere.

Handy Dandy Link: Wiki Article

Artist Creation of the inconspicuous Newfoundland Wolf

In May 2012 Joe Fleming from Bonavista Newfoundland shocked the world when he posed in a photo with an 82 pound animal he killed with his rifle on the Bonavista Peninsula. Joe had thought the animal was a coyote but at closer inspection, he believed it was actually a wolf. Later the animals DNA was analysed and sure enough, it was a wolf. The Newfoundland Department of Environment and Conservation weighed in on the subject in a news release, saying they’re unsure how the wolf ended up on the island of Newfoundland but suspected it may have crossed the frozen Labrador straight ice, which is a common way other mammals, like polar bears, to make their way to the island portion of the Province each spring. The ministry considered it to be a rare event and brushed the sighting off to a single incident, but that wasn’t the end of wolf sightings.

Handy Dandy Link: CBC Article confirming DNA Results

Strangely enough, on January 20, 2019 there was a total lunar eclipse which was referred to as the Super Wolf Blood Moon. On that day, from North America, the moon was high in the sky and the totality of the eclipse lasted just over one hour. We’re not saying these events are related, but a few days later on January 25, Kurt Payne and his wife Andrea Payne from Sandy Point, Newfoundland stated they saw several wolves their doorstep in the early morning. While they were not able to get clear images of the animals on their cameras, Kurt and Andrea are both sure what they saw were wolves. What’s even more interesting is that if anyone should be able to tell the difference between wolves and coyotes it’s Kurt and Andrea Payne. They both spend time researching wolves and have even spent time on a wolf sanctuary, so when Kurt says he’s sure what he saw was a wolf coming towards him across the frozen Exploits River in Central Newfoundland, his statement carries some weight.

If you come across a wild animal, do you know what to do? Do you know when you should run, when you should stand your ground, and how to best live to tell your story? Not all animals behave the same, but several rules are true across the board. All animals have personal space that, when you invade, may make the animal trigger a fight-or-flight response. With predators, running will make you look like food but standing your ground will often make them think twice about an attack. Want to learn more about how to deal with an animal encounter and how to stay safe in bear, wolf, and coyote country? Be sure to check out our NEWFOUNDLAND BEAR AWARE and NEWFOUNDLAND WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS posts.

What do you think? Is the Newfoundland Wolf Back? Was it ever really gone? Post in the comments below and let us know what you think.

31 Responses

  1. There is a possibility they are still living, on a show on animal planet (extinct of alive) Forrest Galante caught a wolf run by while he was using his flir cam, it was only for a moment though, but i’m digging into the details and all i’ve noticed is that it has a abnormally long snout and a top speed of 50-60 mph

  2. i lived in nfld in 1980 its a big island and not populated well, especially the northern pensulia wolves could easily come back there from near extinction in 1931, there is so much land, if you have ever driven to roddiction or st anthoney you can drive for an hour and see no one on the road they also have lots of food there, IMO they are there and they will grow in population the island needs them to keep the moose population down, [to many car accidents] i just hope people dont kill off the wolves to such a low population again.

    1. Idk if the newfoundlandland wolf is extinct or not, its very possible with how low of population there is in this huge island that there are some, what i do know is that there are labrador wolves here, alot of people have shot them and they done dna test and it shows its a labrador wolf, so there are wolves in newfoundland, but its probably not the newfoundland wolf

  3. Many canids, not just wolves, cache food. Its a common trait right across the animal kingdom. Its called foresight! We do it when we get a week’s groceries in!

  4. 3 of us BC tourists Saw a wolf in Terra Nova park Nfld. near Ochre hill on Oct 20, 2021 at about 3 pm. It had just started to rain and we didn’t have time to take photo. We were about 75 ft away as it stopped to look back at us. It was was tall with nice white and gray face. Reported to Park Wardens office.
    They said they would check out the area where we saw it. (And no, it was not a coyote- I have seen lots of those up close and chased them away.)

  5. Just before moving to Newfoundland I met a Natural Resources worker transporting baby wolves on his way to The Rock as part of a reintroduction project.

    1. wouldn’t supprise me. I have seen several wolves up around my cabin and have documented proof that I shot one (thought it was coyote)because the fur was sold at auction. and I have the records

  6. Growing up in Newfoundland in the 1960-1970’s, I knew that at sometime the wolves would venture across the Straights of Belle Isle and make Newfoundland its home again. I am so glad they ventured across the sea ice to make Newfoundland home again.

  7. Yes, even the guy who made the videos: Extinct or Alive? videotaped wolves running through a heat camera and found poop that was analyzed to be from a wolf. Basically the wolves have been hunted by humans so much they have trained themselves to keep moving instead of making themselves targets.

  8. Wolves are an attribute to the ecosystem as they weed out and cull the elk , deer, moose, caribou that are weekday, slowest,diseased, aged, injured hence leaving the strongest , fittest , finest DNA in the deer family to procreate

  9. Tim that type of killing is know to be how mountain lions kill. Wolves make a kill and the whole pack feeds on it. Wolves never kill for the fun of it but mountain lions will!

    1. Beg to differ with your assessment about mountain lions ‘killing for fun’. Do you have solid documentation to back that up? Trust me, the only species that kills purely for fun is humankind.. as in trophy hunters. I’m a wildlife biologist based in central Minnesota.

  10. My wife and I spend approximately 10hrs a week travelling the tch and coyote sightings are no big deal.. We often see them early morning on the Rd side and lake areas around the holes left by the ice fishing.. I assume there looking for the remains after the trout are gutted.. Anyway early one morning around 6am travelling up the Holyrood Access Rd just about to the tch a large animal ran out of the woods and paused a moment as it passed the Rd. We were probly only 10 car lengths away as it ran up the hill, I truly believe it was a wolf. After seeing dozens of coyotes over the years this guy stood much higher and was a much heavier animal.. As it passed a cut stump I was able to get an idea of its height so the next day I took my Labrador Retriever with me, he’s a tall fit guy and weighs in at 90 plus lb, I got him to stand at the same stump the other animal passed and I retreated to the angle I saw the other animal. The animal that passed that same stump was every bit as tall as my lab.. All the coyotes I’ve seen over the years have all been much smaller than that.. It’s a mystery to me as so much info point to no wolves on the island but my own experience tells me otherwise.. One other thing I noticed was the hair on this animal was also different than that on the coyotes I’ve seen. It seemed longer and kind of hung lower on the chest and tail.. The tail was also much fuller than that of the coyote..I guess it could have been a coywolf but I still believe the size would still be a factor as the coywolf is also smaller than the wolf.. I guess time will tell as more or less sights happen.

    1. My grandfather saw a Wolf not too far from there about fifty years ago, before there were Coyotes on the island. He was ice fishing on a small pond, when it walked out from the forest onto the ice. It stopped when it noticed him, looked at him for a little bit and them kept walking to the other side. He said it was as big as the biggest dogs he’s ever seen, very light colour, almost white. Big bushy tail, long fur, big head, huge paws. He was right up close to it, and said it was probably the most beautiful animal he’d ever seen. He didn’t tell anyone at the time because he didn’t think anyone would believe him. He’s seen Coyotes since and told me there was no mistaking what he saw back then. My grandmother also heard Wolves howling all the time when she was growing up on the Northern Peninsula, 60-70 years ago. I think that Wolves never went extinct on the island.. there’s just too much great habitat here, places where few, if any people go.

      1. I thought I saw a very big coyote between goose cove and dunfield on the bonivista peninsula. Now I’m starting to think it was a wolf. It was at least the size of a German Shepard.

  11. No doubt wolves are back in Newfoundland. It is a very short and easy walk across the Strait of Belle Isle in the winter. I believe wolves are now going back and forth across the strait regularly. I also believe they have returned to Newfoundland for three primary reasons: (1) the caribou herds throughout Labrador have become decimated and wolves have had to move south in search of food; (2) the introduction of moose to coastal Labrador has attracted wolves to this region;and, (3) Newfoundland with its caribou and high moose population is a wolf magnet. Wolves are extremely intelligent animals and Newfoundland has become far better wolf habitat than Labrador due to the abundance of habitat and prey.

    1. I’m sure you would love that,?have you seen the most recent slaying in Wyoming where they killed 19 Elk in one night and left them laying,just pure murder.

        1. Wolves would return to the killls for multiple days to feed. Man disturbed the kills they would never leave that much meat wasted . Think about it hunting for a wolf is dangerous buisness why kill and not eat. Ive watched many times wolves kill and leave and then hours later return to the kill. That story is pure fabrication and manipulation by wolf haters .

          1. Yeah, sounds like an unnatural act, but then again there might be a lot of factors involved that we don’t know about. But I think we can all agree that wolves are beautiful and majestic, and just like all animals the proper respect and a healthy amount of fear is always in order.

          2. Hardly so once awakening from “woke” into a wolf realist…!
            Dogs will also continue killing just for the pleasure of it which is why the need to enforce Leash Laws…!

      1. Yo, please refrain from attributing an essentially human behavior to another species. Here’s a prime example: The low life creep who MURDERED a young female wolf in Wyoming by running her over with his snowmobile and then torturing her before dispatching with a firearm. No, wildlife do not commit murder, but humankind often does.. in spades!

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