James Bay wolf located, tranquilized by conservation officers, police say
VANCOUVER -- After more than 24 hours on the loose in British Columbia's capital city, a lone wolf - likely from a nearby island - has been located and tranquilized, according to police.
Victoria police first announced a "confirmed wolf sighting" in their city's James Bay neighbourhood on their Twitter account Saturday afternoon, but said they had abandoned the search Sunday after more than 12 hours without spotting the beast.
Then, late Sunday afternoon, the wolf was sighted again. Police said their officers and "several others" have seen the animal in James Bay. They said they are "giving it room, while monitoring it closely," and advised the public to bring children and pets indoors as a precaution.
In a follow-up tweet around 6:15 p.m., police said the animal had been tranquilized.
The BC Conservation Officer Service tweeted Saturday night that it believed the wolf sighted in James Bay may have arrived there from Discovery Island, where a lone wolf has lived since at least 2012.
Conservation photographer Cheryl Alexander told CTV News Vancouver Island she believes the wolf currently on the run in the City of Victoria is likely the lone wolf, which is named Takaya.
“The video clip looks very much like it could be the Discovery Island wolf,” Alexander said. “He has very specific markings; I’d like to see the front of his legs because he has a couple of stripes down there that are quite obvious.”
Alexander said the wolf may have decided to swim to Victoria in search of food, or because he is looking for a mate.
In 2016, the island off the coast of Oak Bay - which is a Marine Provincial Park - was closed to the public on the recommendation of the BCCOS. The closure was implemented to give officials a chance to study the animal.
The island was reopened in 2017.
Like bears, wolves can become "habituated" to humans, according to BC Parks. Victoria police encouraged residents to consult the BC Parks guide on wolf safety for information about how to deal with the animal if they encounter it.
The guide recommends keeping a distance of more than 100 metres between human and wolf. If a wolf is acting aggressively or appears unafraid of humans, BC Parks recommends raising your arms and waving them in the air to make yourself appear larger, as well as using noise makers and throwing sticks, rocks, or sand at the wolf to scare it away.
Anyone who encounters an aggressive wild animal is encouraged to call the Conservation Officer Service 24-hour reporting line at 877-952-7277.
Wild animal sightings are not uncommon on Vancouver Island, but wolf-, cougar- and bear-sightings are rare in the City of Victoria.
In 2015, a juvenile cougar led police, conservation officers and media on a chase through the James Bay neighbourhood. At the time, experts said the animal was likely looking for an area to establish a new territory after leaving his mother.
Officials also blamed that cougar for killing and eating a deer in Oak Bay, prompting calls for a cull of deer in the area.