My first Can Geo cover shot: a bull elk resting in snow in Banff National Park. (Photo: John E. Marriott)
By the year 2000, I had made a full transition to wildlife photography and was a full-time pro. Over the years, I had a number of images appear in the pages of Canadian Geographic, but that next cover image continued to elude me.
Then, in 2009, it finally happened. Another Canadian Geographic cover.
Two years earlier, I had started photographing a wild black wolf named Delinda, the alpha female of the Bow Valley, Alta. wolf family that ranged from Bow Lake to Banff in Banff National Park. Delinda had adapted well to the busy Bow Valley and successfully raised three litters, somehow managing to live with people without getting into trouble with them. She walked that fine line between being a wild wolf and dealing with all the tourists, towns and transportation corridors that were part and parcel of life in the park.
In August 2008, Delinda was struck and killed on the Trans-Canada Highway, inside the national park. Her death set off a cavalcade of media coverage that ranged from Maclean’s magazine to the BBC and CNN. The significance of Delinda’s death was not lost on the general public or the media. Soon afterwards, her family disintegrated, killed on roads and railways, eventually completely disappearing from the country’s most prized national park.
A year later, in December 2009, one of my favourite photos of Delinda was selected for the cover of Canadian Geographic’s first annual wildlife issue. Delinda’s image and story struck a chord with readers, and that issue quickly became the one of the magazine’s best-selling issues of all time (as well as one of its most awarded covers).