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Staqeya the wolf returns to islands off Oak Bay

Sep 26 2012
The wolf that spent much of the summer on Discovery Island is now on Chatham Island. After the animal swam to Trial Island last month, it was hoped it had reached southern Vancouver Island and returned to wilderness areas. 

The wolf that spent much of the summer on Discovery Island is now on Chatham Island. After the animal swam to Trial Island last month, it was hoped it had reached southern Vancouver Island and returned to wilderness areas.

Photograph by: Songhees Nation , Times Colonist

A lone wolf is back on Chatham and Discovery islands, looking sleek and healthy and believed to be building a den.

The wolf was first seen on Discovery Island this summer, forcing the temporary closing of the provincial park, and was then on Trial Island, just off Oak Bay, last month.

After the wolf disappeared from Trial Island, it was believed the animal could have swum back to Vancouver Island and disappeared into a wilderness area.

But the wolf, which members of Songhees First Nation say has been identified as a female, is back and apparently sticking to Chatham Island and the area of Discovery Island that are part of Songhees reserve lands.

"She's eating well. Seals - and a lot of different waterfowl there and plenty of clams and crabs," said Butch Dick, Songhees education liaison.

The band has given the wolf the name Staqeya, which means wolf in Lekwungen. The wolf is a symbol of the Coast Salish people, Dick said.

There are concerns that the wolf is lonely, but there is little that can be done about that, Dick said. "Maybe we can put it on Facebook or something."

Trevor Absolon, Songhees bylaw enforcement officer, said the band wants the wolf to stay, especially as she has been seen building a den.

"A lot of the band members find it interesting that Chief Robert Sam passed away in about the same period that the wolf appeared," Absolon said.

The wolf has been seen watching a group of river otters, so may have been eating otter as well as seal, Absolon said. A spring provides a supply of fresh water.

However, B.C. Conservation officer Peter Pauwels hopes the wolf leaves of its own free will.

"We believe the wolf can survive there indefinitely, but we don't think she would want to, given the nature of wolves. They are social animals," Pauwels said.

It is possible that, when the wolf swam to Trial Island, it was attempting to return home, but wanted to avoid the populated areas of Oak Bay that can be seen across the water, he said.

The B.C. Conservation Service may again try to trap the animal, as it is likely to become increasingly accustomed to people, Pauwels said.

"There's nothing planned in the near future, but we will consider our options to see if there's a way to get her off there," he said.

The wolf avoided previous traps put out on Discovery Island.

"They are pretty smart. They are harder to trap than almost anything else we deal with," Pauwels said.

"They are very, very wary of anything with a human scent on it."

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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