Wolf seen in James Bay tranquilized, will be moved to wilderness location

Conservation officers are transporting a wolf captured in James Bay on Sunday to an undisclosed wilderness location.

The wolf was assessed by a provincial veterinarian and was determined to be a suitable candidate for release, said the B.C. Conservation Officer Service. 

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The animal was first spotted Saturday afternoon, when conservation officers saw the animal and confirmed it was a wolf. The sighting prompted warnings from police to keep children and pets indoors. Conservation officers tranquilized the wolf Sunday evening.

Conservation officers said Saturday they believed the animal is the same lone wolf that appeared on Discovery Island, off Oak Bay, in 2012.

“He’s a similar appearance, similar age, so it’s a possibility, but until we can confirm if that wolf is still present or not, we don’t know,” said conservation officer Mark Kissinger.

That wolf, known as Takaya, has also been seen on Chatham Island and has swum across to Greater Victoria before.

Cheryl Alexander is a Victoria-based photographer who has been studying and following Takaya for six years. Alexander believes the wolf could be Takaya, because the animal has similar markings. She said it could also be a female wolf that was seen at the end of 10 Mile Point in Saanich and the Blenkinsop Valley in the fall, or another wolf entirely.

Alexander goes out frequently to see Takaya. The last time she saw the wolf was a couple of weeks ago, but on a visit to the island Sunday, she saw fresh paw prints which suggested to her that the animal had been there in the last day or two.

It's not unusual for the wolf to travel between islands, she said, adding Takaya’s territory includes multiple islands. Alexander said coastal wolves tend to be mobile and can swim up to 10 kilometres.

“He's an excellent swimmer. He swims in very strong currents. He also has a huge stamina,” Alexander said. “These coastal wolves are pretty adept at swimming.”

Takaya was the focus of a popular CBC documentary last year that also aired in the U.K., which created an international fanbase for the animal.

“There are so many people who care about this wolf now,” said Alexander, who has received notes from people across Canada and around the world worried about Takaya.

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, according to conservation officers.

If you see a wolf and it is more than 100 metres away, B.C. Parks suggests trying to scare the animal by raising your arms and waving them in the air to appear larger.

If the wolf displays aggressive behaviour, back away slowly. Do not turn your back on the animal.

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