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Wolf takes up residence on Discovery Island
A lone wolf is living on an island near Oak Bay.
Campers on Discovery Island first reported a stray or abandoned animal to conservation officers in early May, but it was confirmed that the animal was a wolf this week.
While it's not known where exactly the wolf came from, the hope is that it will leave the island on its own, said conservation officer Peter Pauwels.
"We've been trying to decide whether this is something we need to remove or not," Pauwels said. "At this point, we'd rather not see the wolf get harmed and let it leave on its own."
Getting the wolf off of the island would involve trapping it, and that could be very difficult, he added.
A trap was placed on the island along with water and food. However, it will not be set unless there's evidence the wolf is willing to access the bait.
A parks maintenance officer will check on the trap everyday, Pauwels said.
The conservation officer says it's unusual for a wolf to leave its pack and travel alone.
The closest area the wolf may have come from is Sooke or Shawnigan Lake, Pauwels said, noting that there are a number of different routes it could have swam from.
Water and food for the wolf is scarce – there are no deer, racoons, or squirrels on the island, but there is access to seals, fish, crabs, and geese.
The wolf will most likely leave on its own, Pauwels said, because it is a social creature and will, at some point, seek companionship of other wolves.
"Under all the circumstances, it's not a place it's going to want to stay long term, for sure. I'm surprised it's been there, stayed there, as long as it has."
When and if the wolf decides to leave the island, its shortest swim would be to Cattle Point or Ten Mile Bay in Oak Bay, but there's no knowing where the wolf may show up, Pauwels said.
Once the wolf reaches land, conservation officers would have "zero chance" of locating it, he added, because it would most likely continue running until it reaches a comfortable habitat.
"It's not going to be comfortable (in Oak Bay) either but it's got a long way to go before it gets out of civilization," Pauwels said.
Campers have reported seeing the wolf near the campsite but so far, not in the actual camping area.
"It still seems to be very leery of people and it's not getting close," Pauwels said.
People are advised to keep the campsite clean and store food in containers.
However, he added, the wolf has not been approaching humans, so people should not be worried at this point.
If campers do come across the wolf, Pauwels said, don't approach it and give it lots of space.
An Oak Bay cub scout leader, who was on Discovery Island June 23 to 24, was surprised to learn that there is, in fact, a wolf on the island.
Randy Stewart was camping there for the first time when he came across what he believed was paw prints and scat belonging to a wolf.
Stewart was with about 20 cub scouts and a handful of adults. He left the group for an early morning walk on the morning of June 24 and said he was puzzled by what he saw.
"I saw the scat in two different places on the trail. … I saw in the grass, it looked like some large animal had been sleeping on the grass, and I was really puzzled," he recalled. "In this lower marshy area (by the Discovery Island sign)… I saw these footprints in the mud, and to me they looked like dog or wolf."
Had Stewart known what he witnessed was evidence of a wolf, he would have been worried about being in the area, he said.
"I look at it now and I think 'God, I was out there by myself,' and you just never know with wild animals," he said. "Certainly, with the kids there, I think all of us, if we had known there was a wolf on the island, we would have not been too comfortable with that."
To report sightings of the wolf, call the conservation centre at 1-800-663-9453.