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Wolf chases Discovery Island visitors away

A lone wolf has won the battle for Discovery Island – for now.

As of Monday (July 23) Discovery Island is off limits to the public for safety reasons. In response to the presence of a wolf, which was confirmed two weeks ago, B.C. Parks has temporarily closed the park to public access.

While the wolf is not displaying any behaviour that is a concern to B.C. Parks or the Conservation Officer Service, the temporary closure of the park will allow them time to assess the situation and determine the best course of action to ensure the continued health and well being of the wild animal, while ensuring park visitors are not exposed to potential encounters.

Campers on Discovery Island first reported a stray or abandoned animal to conservation officers in early May.

It is not known where the wolf came from, but Courtenay resident Rick James has a theory.

“Three (or) four years ago, three of us archaeologists were working on a Willows Beach residence when the owner came along with (a dog) off leash and it attacked us,” James said. “We were eating our lunches and it ran in at us … and literally grabbed the sandwich out of my hand.

“I told the woman owner she needed to keep her wolf/dog on a leash and then she walked down to the end of the beach and let it loose again. It came back at full gallop and once again grabbed my lunch right out of my hand with its big jaws.”

James said he wasn’t injured by the dog, but his co-workers jumped in the pickup truck for safety. “Me? I had some words with the owner, who by no means was going to apologize or accept she needed to assume control of the animal,” he said. He then lodged a complaint with Oak Bay animal control.

He questions whether a wild wolf would choose to swim over to Discovery Island with a “ready-made buffet” of feral rabbits and deer on the UVic campus and around Uplands Golf Course available.

“I did alert the Capital Region animal control, who recalled the file but said they hadn’t heard anything about the wolf/dog for some time … two to three years. …  I’m not making any accusations without actually knowing if it is one and the same animal.”

“That dog is currently licensed in Oak Bay and presumably living at the owner’s house,” said Victoria Animal Control Services adoption coordinator, Victoria Simpson.

To report sightings of the wolf, call the conservation centre at 1-800-663-9453.

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