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Remembering Staqeya, the lone wolf of Discovery Island
VICTORIA -- A lone wolf living on a small, remote island off Victoria's coast captivated the world and became one of Canada’s most popular creatures.
On Tuesday, Staqeya, well known as Takaya, was shot and killed near Port Renfrew.
CTV News Vancouver Island has confirmed the wolf was harvested on Mosaic Property by a fully licensed hunter.
In British Columbia, it is legal for hunters to harvest three wolves per year, as long as they report it.
Before the wild animal became iconic and popular, the Songhees First Nation first noticed him on their reserve land about six years ago.
Songhees Nation Chief Ron Sam said the wolf first arrived at the same time the nation’s longtime Chief Robert Sam died.
“We took that as a message that our chief was still with us even though he is not,” said Ron Sam.
Under its jurisdiction and rights, the Songhees Nation pushed to keep the wolf on Discovery Island and for him to be left alone.
“We took it as a sign that he showed up there for some reason,” Sam said. “You really wonder why he was out there alone. There was something out there for him.”
How Staqeya travelled to Discovery Island and how he managed to survive alone for so many years was a mystery that intrigued many.
“People got to know this wolf as an individual,” said Victoria photographer Cheryl Alexander.
In January, Staqeya swam across strong currents on the coast and arrived in Victoria. People reported seeing the wolf running through James Bay and conservation officers ultimately tranquilized the animal.
“I was worried about him,” said Sam of the incident.
Staqeya was relocated and released into a rugged and remote area outside Port Renfrew.
“This isolated coastal habitat similar to Discovery Island was carefully chosen to give the wolf the best chance possible,” said the BC Conservation Officer Service in a statement.
Alexander has devoted almost six years to studying and photographing the wolf and said she was concerned about him being relocated off the island.
“I don’t think it was the best decision for him,” said Alexander. “He was doing OK. He’s a survivor.”
Staqeya was shot and killed about 50 kilometres away from where he was released.
“My initial reaction was to be angry, I don’t know how that would happen,” said Sam.
After Staqeya’s death, some are now demanding a ban on killing wolves in B.C.
“The hunter’s reaction was to shoot him and that is what needs to be looked at,” said Alexander. “Why do we have that kind of mentality?”
Raincoast Conservation Foundation said they were worried that Staqeya being shot was inevitable.
“The ongoing recreational hunting of these wolves is the largest source of mortality for these animals in B.C.,” said Chris Genovali, the foundation’s executive director. “The numbers are astounding of wolves killed every year through recreational trophy hunting.”
Genovali said the killing of wolves to save caribou population is unethical.
“I hope the death of Takaya is not in vain and maybe this will be an inflection point that will turn the tide,” Genovali said
Genovali would like to see regulations similar to those for grizzly bear hunting put in place for wolves.
The BC Conservation Office Service tells CTV News their investigation is ongoing and further details will be released as they become available.
Sam has requested conversation officers ask the hunter to return Staqeya to the Songhees First Nation.
“We want to bring him back out to Discovery Island and bury him,” he said.