Cape Scott Provincial Park, on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, is known for its sandy beaches and old-growth rainforest, but it’s also a place where it’s not uncommon to spot a wolf.
Wolf attacks, however, are not quite so common.
Harvey Humchitt Jr. was born and raised on the coast in Bella Bella, kept the Cape Scott Lighthouse for 18 years and has been with the coast guard for more than 25. Prior to the first week of December, Humchitt Jr. had never been chased by a wolf.
“I just left the radio room and I was on my way to check my fuel. And along the way I heard a rustling in the brush and I turned my flashlight toward the sound and out lunges this really young wolf,” said Humchitt Jr., in an interview with the North Island Gazette.
He immediately saw the gate was open and ran towards the house. The wolf gave chase.
“It caught up to me when I got to the gate and it was close enough to take a bite and it did three snaps,” said Humchitt Jr. “In all my years I’ve never ever heard of a wolf giving chase to a person before.”
After making it inside just in time, the reality of the situation hit him.
“I think every single one of my senses were 100 per cent in operation and my adrenaline was really high. I could feel my heart just racing,” said Humchitt Jr., adding “When I got in the house the fear hit me, when I realized how close I was to getting bitten by a wolf.”
Humchitt Jr. has seen many wolves before at the light station, but mostly just passing through. He’s spotted them from a safe distance and even filmed a clip of a wolf visit a few years ago for his youtube channel.
However, after the encounter he checked in with some wolf specialists and learned he was actually at fault for the near attack.
“My action of running caused the wolf to give chase, because wolves are called course hunters meaning they kill their prey on the run, so if I stopped running and faced the wolf and started walking backward I wouldn’t have been chased by the wolf any longer,” he explained.
Humchitt Jr. said since his experience he has learned that the proper thing to do if you come face to face with a wolf is stand your ground and make yourself really big. If you have a jacket, unzip it and flip it up over your head to make yourself look bigger than normal and back away slowly.
As a last resort, the best thing to do is curl into a ball and protect all of your vital organs and hope the wolf backs off.
“It was one of the things that made me think that when they say these creatures out in the wild are unpredictable they really mean it – they’re unpredictable,” he said.
Humchitt Jr. added that he hopes his experience will help educate people, rather than deter them from visiting Cape Scott.
“Everybody to enjoy their experience at Cape Scott. It is such a beautiful park – there has never been an attack on a human reported at Cape Scott and we are lucky that way.”