Takaya has been in the news since his arrival in the islands near Victoria. Some of the most detailed coverage has been in Europe, with journalists reporting on his story for many renowned media outlets. Articles have appeared in The Guardian, The Times, the Globe & Mail and most recently in Air Mail – a new American online magazine started by Graydon Carter (well known editor of Vanity Fair). The scientific journal Ecology featured Takaya’s picture on the cover of their 100th volume.
The Scientific Naturalist (Staqeya: the lone wolf at the edge of its ecological niche)
Volume 100, Number 1, January 2019
Documenting the Lives of B.C.’s Coastal Wolves
Remembering Takaya, the Lone Wolf
When I can spare a moment at work, I will often go to the CBC website to check out the newsfeed. On this particular day, my heart sank as I read the headline, “Conservationist Mourns Victoria’s Famed Lone Wolf, Takaya.” I had been planning to watch the documentary featuring Takaya, but after reading the article about his death, I just couldn’t bring myself to view it. I am keenly aware of the plight of wolves in British Columbia (BC) being hunted and terrorized in an ongoing government sponsored wolf cull program. But somehow I thought Takaya might be insulated from that persecution because of his notoriety. I was wrong. In a split second, the time it took for the bullet to travel from the rifle to Takaya, he was gone forever. The lone wolf that captured the hearts of so many, was reduced to a trophy. A hunter’s fleeting adrenaline rush abruptly ended a beautiful life.
But Takaya will not be forgotten. The outrage over his death has ignited an outpouring of tributes from around the world. As inspiring as Takaya was in life, he may be even more so in death. For Cheryl Alexander, who had been documenting Takaya’s life and knew him as the lone wolf living in solitude on Discovery Island near Victoria, it is bittersweet. “Had he just vanished, it wouldn’t have had the same impact, so he’s a martyr in a way. I hope it inspires change,” she says.
This change appears to be manifesting itself in the creative talents of numerous people who have been touched by Takaya’s story. From third grader Ripley’s rendition of Takaya to Cathy Hammond’s beautiful painting, artistic tributes abound to keep his memory alive. Scottish musician, Mike Reynolds, was inspired to write a song about Takaya while others have written poems to remember him.
Up until Takaya’s killing, the ongoing slaughter of countless wolves may have seemed like an abstract concept in the minds of many. Not knowing their stories, their deaths may not have resonated in a way that they might have had people gotten to know them like they came to know Takaya. Now that there is a face and a name, Takaya may well be the martyr that Alexander describes, albeit a reluctant one.
The hunting lobby in BC is organized and powerful and often holds sway over government policy. Their collective voice continues to influence policy makers as they demonize those who stand against them. Tree huggers, snowflakes, professional protesters, and environmental terrorists are just some of the labels being used to describe those who dare take a stand against environmental tyranny. And this smear campaign has often proven effective at swaying public opinion.
Takaya could well be the be the one who changes that. As tragic as his death may be, perhaps some good can come of it. Through the various works of art being created in his memory, Takaya’s voice is being heard. Quite literally, it may be a voice from the wilderness that speaks the loudest and it may be the world’s greatest isolationist who reaches the most.
As I write this piece, I am reminded that it is Earth Week. It fills me with hope seeing the collective action being taken to effect change. “Artists for the Earth” is one way in which people expressed themselves in creative ways to shine a light on the countless environmental issues plaguing the earth. The Earth Day website reads, “Art has the power to reach people personally, establishing a deeper understanding and personal connection with what’s happening to our planet.” Through his story, both in life and death, Takaya has created deep personal connections and has had a profound effect on many. The art work he has inspired in its various forms has put the spotlight back on the cruel and antiquated, but yet legal, hunting practices in B.C.
Takaya has come to symbolize the struggle that all wolves face in BC. The relentless pressure from hunters and trappers has caused untold suffering for hundreds of these apex predators in just the last five years alone. Science has debunked the theory that wolves are the cause of the precipitous decline in woodland caribou, yet the BC government continues to implement its annual wolf cull despite overwhelming evidence that points to human causes. In fact, the real culprits are industrial and recreational practices that continue to cause de-forestation and environmental degradation. Studies have shown that wolves are actually integral to the ecosystems they inhabit and without them, these ecosystems become unbalanced and remain in a state of flux.
In the end, Takaya didn’t sign up to be a martyr, but when a trophy hunter made a split-second, heartless decision, he became one. I have since learned that the hunter who killed Takaya, had him stuffed and sold to the highest bidder. It appears it was all about profit for him. When I first contacted Alexander by e-mail, she began her reply with this, “I am awake watching the dawn and feeling the loss of Takaya’s spirit in the islands. I spent so many mornings with him as the light came. . .”
Op-Ed Submission by Jeremy Leete
The information below is divided into three sections, from most current to oldest: Takaya is Killed; Takaya Leaves Islands; Early News Media.
Media coverage on Takaya began shortly after he was spotted wandering the coasts of the islands (2012). At first the animal was believed to be an abandoned dog, but was soon discovered to be a coastal sea wolf. After the initial flurry of news reports on tv and in print, Takaya virtually vanished from public consciousness, living largely below the human radar. Then, in 2016, an incident occurred that once again put Takaya in the public eye. Print and television coverage increased. Then, in 2020, Takaya left his island home and was captured and relocated. More media. And finally, in March 2020, Takaya was killed, resulting in massive media coverage around the world. A sample of the articles are provided for each section of Takaya’s life.
The Guardian – Canada Mourns Takaya the Lone Sea Wolf Whose Spirit Captured the World
Globe & Mail – Takaya the Grey Wolf will become BCs Cecil the Lion
Living with Wolves – Takaya has been shot
The National Observer – Don’t Let Takaya’s Death be in Vain
The Times – Howls of outrage at killing of Takaya
Times Colonist – Takaya, Lone Wolf of Discovery Island Killed by Hunter: Conservation Service
Raincoast Conservation Organization – It’s Time to Take Action for Wolves in BC
The Nature of Things, CBC – Conservationist Mourns Victoria’s Famed Lonesome Wolf, Takaya
CBC News – Takaya, world-famous lone wolf, shot and killed on Vancouver Island
The Humane Society of the U.S. – The Killing of Takaya, Canada’s Famous Lone Wolf, Highlights Urgent Need to Outlaw Trophy Hunting
The Animal Rescue Site – Hunter Kills Beloved Lone Wolf, Takaya, and the World Mourns with a Collective Howl
Animals 24/7 – Takaya the ‘sea wolf’ headed for home, but hunter shot him
GOB Online News, UK – Hunter Kills Canadian Lone Wolf Takaya
BC SPCA – Discovery Island wolf killing highlights issues with trophy hunting
CTV News – Takaya, the Lone Wolf of Discovery Island, has been shot and killed
Narcity – BC’s Beloved Lone Wolf has been Killed by Hunters and Locals are Heartbroken
Jezebel – Saturday Night Social: RIP Takaya the Sea Wolf, You Were Better Than Us All
Chek News – Outrage and grief after Discovery Island wolf shot and killed by hunter
Chek News – Updated: Island wolf ‘Takaya’ killed by hunters near Shawnigan Lake
The Canadian Press – Famous lone wolf killed by hunter in British Columbia: conservation service
Victoria Buzz – Discovery Island wolf Takaya shot and killed by hunters in Shawnigan Lake
Victoria News – Beloved Discovery Island wolf Takaya shot and killed
Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News – Famed Victoria wolf Takaya shot and killed on south coast of Vancouver Island
InfoNews – Famous lone wolf ‘Takaya’ killed by hunter on Vancouver Island: conservation service
Pacific Wild: Ian McAllister – Comments on Takaya’s Killing
Down to Earth Eco Watch – Beloved Canadian Lone Wolf Shot
Marco Adda – Takaya Wolf Goodbye, Essential Wolf killed by Hunter (YouTube)
Intolerancia Diario – Cazadores furtivos asesinan a ‘Takaya’ el lobo mas Famoso de Canada
Milenio 2020: Mexico City – Cazadores furtivos disparan y matan a Takaya, el lobo mas Famoso de Canada
Chispa tv – Cazadores matan a tiros a Takaya, el lobo mas famoso de Canada
Globe & Mail – An Uncertain Ending for Victoria’s Lone Wolf