Trap set for Discovery Island wolf, but Songhees want it left alone

Traps have again been set on Discovery Island in an effort by the B.C. Conservation Service to catch the lone wolf that has been island-hopping off the Oak Bay waterfront since last July.

However, the Songhees First Nation, whose reserve includes part of Discovery Island and Chatham Island, wants the wolf left where it is, said band councillor Ron Sam.

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“Council met yesterday, and we have taken it to the membership and passed a motion that the wolf should be left alone,” Sam said.

The wolf showed up for a reason, and there is no need to interfere with nature, he said.

“He showed up on the islands when the chief passed away,” Sam said.

Chief Robert Sam, who died last July, loved wolves, so the appearance of the wolf on Discovery Island was timely, band members say.

The wolf, which is believed to be female, is eating seals, otters and geese, and is looking healthy, Sam said.

“She is helping restore the ecosystem. She has scared off the geese that were causing havoc,” he said.

Songhees were not consulted about the trapping effort, but B.C. Parks has now assured the band that the traps are on the marine park side of Discovery Island and not on Songhees land, he said.

Sam is not sure what will happen next as public safety is weighed against the desire of band members to keep the wolf in their territory.

“We’re also concerned about what is going to happen when they trap it,” he said.

The provincial Environment Ministry said in a statement that the Songhees would be consulted on the relocation.

B.C. Parks and conservation officers agree that relocating the wolf is in the best interest of the animal and public safety, according to the statement.

“It is also agreed that relocation of the wolf prior to this year’s high visitation season is a priority,” it says.

“While the wolf has not demonstrated any habituated behaviour to this point, it seems to be showing increased interest/curiosity toward humans [according to] recent reports from kayakers and the park facility operator.”

Discovery Island will remain closed for about three weeks or until the wolf is captured.

However, band members are not convinced that the wolf will allow itself to be trapped and are hoping to persuade it to stay in the reserve areas.

No traps will be set in the reserve areas, Sam said.

Conservation officers set live traps on Discovery Island last summer, but were unable to catch the wolf.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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