Lone wolf may have come to James Bay to search for mate, expert says
VICTORIA -- A wolf calmly loping through the cramped neighbourhood of James Bay on Saturday has left bystanders awestruck and wolf experts thrilled.
Cheryl Alexander is a conservation photographer who has been following one of nature’s great predators for years. She lives in Victoria and has been following, documenting and studying the lone wolf named Takaya, which lives on Discovery Island off the coast of Oak Bay, for six years. She says she believes the James Bay wolf may be 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.”
Victoria police alerted the public about the wolf on Saturday afternoon saying it was spotted near James Bay. Resident Thomas Hanratty tells CTV News he saw the wolf walking down the sidewalk on Michigan Street at about 3 p.m.
“It’s highly unusual, obviously,” said Alexander. “He looked like he was moving the same way Takaya moves.”
Many people are now left wondering where it came from and how did it get here.
“Takaya lives on Discovery, Chatham Islands,” she said. “He swims back and forth between all the islands almost on a daily basis.”
Wind and large rips would have made the swim to Vancouver Island quite challenging, but according to Alexander the wolf would know just how to navigate the waters.
The wolf is extremely self-sufficient and his diet is composed of primarily seal. Alexander said Takaya will sometimes eat river otters, mink and goose eggs.
“He is pretty much a marine wolf,” she said.
Takaya has been living on the Discovery Island for almost eight years and she says it would be remarkable for him to leave. His voyage off the island might be because he is hungry and cannot find any seals. Or, he might be looking for a mate.
“He would definitely want to find a mate and maybe he heard or there is some sense there is another wolf in the vicinity which may have drawn him off the island,” said Alexander.
In the fall of 2019, a young female wolf almost ventured over to Discovery Island.
“She was on the shore and seen swimming in Cadboro Bay,” she said. “She didn’t go over to the islands but she may still be in the vicinity.”
Alexander travelled to Discovery Island on Sunday morning to try to find Takaya, but said she did not see any trace of the animal because the tide was high.
In 2016, officials closed the island, which is a Marine Provincial Park, to give the wolf privacy and allow conservationists to study him. The island was reopened to the public in 2017.