Canadians have an ambivalent relationship with creatures of the wild. We cherish the wolves, bears and eagles in spirit, but not always in practice. When they stray too close, they become 'scavengers' and we chase them off, or even slay them. A couple of years ago, a woodsman became an overnight celebrity when he killed an attacking cougar with a penknife. Even the noble beaver, symbol of Canada's frontier past, is often viewed as a pest. Nature, red in tooth and claw, can be a damned nuisance. So it is with Luna, the solitary killer whale, off the coast of northern Vancouver Island. Luna is the stuff of legend. Three years ago, he followed an elderly uncle into Nootka Sound, not far from the town of Gold River. But when the uncle died, Luna lost his bearings. He could not make his way back to his pod in the open sea, 40km away, so he decided to stay. There were plenty of wild salmon, and no shortage of boaters to help allay the loneliness. At the same time, the chief of a local native tribe, the Mowachaht-Muchalaht, was dying. Just before he passed away, Ambrose Maquinna told tribal elders that he hoped to return to them as a killer whale. Shortly after he died, Luna appeared in Nootka Sound. Some saw it as coincidence, but the natives had no doubt: Luna was a reincarnation of their chief, and they were determined to keep him. In a perfect world, the story would stop here. But native beliefs and the modern world often do not mesh. For one thing, Luna's playfulness became an irritant. He would bump up against boats, get in the way of floatplanes, and interfere with local fish farms. It is what young whales do. He was great for tourism, but bad news for the people of Gold River who like order and predictability in their natural environment. 'That whale is a damned menace,' snapped one man on the dock, watching Luna and a bunch of children playing tug-of-war with a plastic float. This familiarity with humans was becoming a bit dangerous for both sides; someone even tried to pour beer down Luna's blowhole. The Campbell River Courier-Islander newspaper said: 'Luna must be dealt with for what he has become - a hazard to navigation and public safety.' The government decided that he should be returned to the open sea, but when officials set up a net in which to trap him, the natives launched their canoes and guided the whale away. With the world watching, and the aboriginals defiant, the government backed down and left Luna alone. And so it remains a stalemate. The best ending would be for Luna to find his way back to his pod, and abandon Nootka Sound and humans forever. Nature, alas, is rarely so benevolent.