Death of Takaya
We have all been upset by the death Of Takaya (except the hunter & his personal buddies). This death seems so senseless & tragic that a human needs to kill an animal that is so sentient.
As a wolf educator, I am getting increasingly disturbed by some of the pictures and videos that are posted on social media showing Takaya’s behavior since he left the islands.
Despite the assertion that wolves are not afraid of humans & socialize with humans that maybe how some wolves in Denali NP interacted with humans in the park as observed by Gordon Haber but remember that those wolves were protected from hunters & trappers. But if the park authorities announced that tomorrow they can be hunted & trapped, many of those wolves would be killed because they had become comfortable around humans.
It has been my experience & the research I have done on wolves by talking to FN elders, Parks Canada rangers, woodsmen & loggers is that wolves are very wary of humans & avoid human contact.
Between 90-95% of wolf mortality is human caused by hunting, trapping & getting hit by vehicles & trains. Wolves know that they live longer by avoiding humans.
FN elders from many different areas have told me that they hear the wolves, see signs of them (paw prints & scat) but they seldom if ever saw them. This is despite the fact that they share the same territory.This observation has been confirmed by a Parks Canada ranger from Jasper NP who I know well, who told me despite the population of wolves in the park or adjacent to it, he & his colleagues seldom observed them. People who have worked & recreated in the wilderness for many years, also had few encounters with wolves.
Also, wolf researchers have great difficulty locating wolves. On the Isle Royale Wolf Project, biologists Doug Smith, Rolf Peterson & John Vucetich hiked these small islands (about the size of Galiano Island in BC’s southern Gulf Islands) for the 4 summer months & seldom saw any wolves.
As I mentioned previously, here are the pictures & videos that I have seen since Takaya left the islands & was relocated that concerns me:
- Video of Takaya trotting down the streets of James Bay in the middle of the day as if he was a neighborhood dog trotting down to the local park to play with his buddies. Wolves avoid areas of high human population particularly cities & during the day. This is very abnormal wolf behavior.
- Pictures of Takaya laying down in the San Juan Valley near Port Renfrew, one week prior to his death. Takaya was calmly laying beside a tree & did not seem interested or concerned about the presence of the photographer. Again very abnormal wolf behavior.
- The most disturbing video was 2 days before his death when Takaya is walking on a logging road near Port Renfrew & people in a truck are filming him about 20-30 feet away. Takaya does not seemed concerned nor frightened by their presence. This is extremely unnatural wolf behavior.
Once I heard that Takaya was relocated I posted on social media that this would be his demise very quickly. Why? Because I know the hatred some hunters have towards wolves & they were immediately looking for Takaya so they could shoot this celebrity wolf. This gives them great status in that crowd.
So this hunter (despicable piece of humanity) finds Takaya & given the video two days before, the hunter & the wolf encounter each other & probably are not more than 30 feet apart. Takaya would have shown no concern or fear of the hunter. They would both have eye contact as the hunter raises his rifle to his shoulder & fires his rifle with the bullet traveling 760 metres per second, with a force of more than 8 times being hit by a hockey puck from a 100mph slap shot, ripping through Takaya’s body.
This event was not Fair Chase hunting where the hunted has a 50% chance of avoiding the hunter. No this was murder! Takaya had no chance as his natural defences of being wary of humans & avoiding them had been so altered that Takaya would stand there “naked” before the hunter. The hunter had not altered Takaya’s natural behavior of being wary, he exploited this change in Takaya’s behavior.
While the actions by the hunter are despicable, ask yourselves these questions,
- Why was Takaya relocated in this area when the Conservation Officer service knows it is a high hunting area? There were other ocean environments for Takaya to reside in that were more remote.
- How did we as humans so alter the natural behavior of wolves as being the “ghosts of the forest”, so that Takaya had no concern or fear of humans & he just stood “naked” (without any defences) before the hunter? Again it was not the hunter who stripped Takaya of his natural wolf behavior of being wary of humans for his safety & longevity.
We need to deeply explore these questions so that we do not inflict this damage upon other wolves. Our intentions and actions can be noble & loving but misplaced and so harmful to the animals we love.