The howl of a lone wolf on Discovery Island can still be heard almost nightly, four years after it swam there for what conservation officers thought would be a temporary stay.
The wolf appears healthy and has been spotted from a distance on a fairly regular basis, conservation officer Peter Pauwels said.
“It’s probably trying to call other wolves,” he said. “They’re social animals — that’s why we always assumed it wouldn’t stay there, it would want to join other wolves.
“But it hasn’t done that and we can only speculate as to why.”
The wolf appeared on the island, located off Oak Bay, in the summer of 2012.
Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park was temporarily closed after the discovery. Traps were set by B.C. Parks, but removed in favour of a public-education strategy in February 2013.
There have been no incidents of concern since then, and the wolf keeps its distance from members of the public, Pauwels said.
“It appears to be in good condition,” Pauwels said. “It’s surviving and feeding and doing OK.”
The wolf is believed to be male and its age is unknown. It eats seals, seal pups and possibly geese, small birds and rodents.
Pets are not permitted on the island and campers are required to keep food in food caches, to avoid attracting the wolf.
“It’s still leery of people and avoiding them. As long as it’s doing that, there’s really nothing to worry about,” Pauwels said.
People should use common sense if they encounter the animal, Pauwels said. “Give it lots of space.”
Ensuring campers’ food is secured is the biggest concern, he said, to avoid the animal getting habituated to human presence.
Wolves are periodically seen in more rural areas of the South Island, such as Sooke and Metchosin. But it’s rare for them to venture into more populated parts, the way this wolf must have done to reached the island, Pauwels said.
Parts of Discovery Island and Chatham Island belong to the Songhees First Nation. Songhees band council passed a motion in 2013 saying the wolf should be left alone.
The animal appeared at almost the same time that Chief Robert Sam died, so its arrival was seen as auspicious.
Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park is 61 hectares and only accessible by water.
Paddlers can launch from Cattle Point, just north of the Oak Bay Marina.