Ian Haysom, a veteran journalist and writer, is a news consultant for CHEK. His coronavirus diary will appear here regularly.
There’s something comforting, reassuring, about the universal outcry over the shooting of Takaya the wolf who made the mistake of getting too close to humans.
Yes, we are all consumed with our own health and mortality these days and of those around us, but the death of a lone wolf who lived for eight years on Discovery Island and finally left in search of — what? —companionship or food or both is heartbreaking.
The cry of the wolf, indeed.
Cheryl Alexander, who documented the life of Takaya, confirmed on Facebook that the wolf had been shot by hunters near Shawnigan Lake. It had been released by conservation officers in rugged wilderness outside Port Renfrew after swimming back to Vancouver Island.
I am beyond devastated. And I do not want to share with you this very sad news because Takaya was giving so much hope…
Takaya’s story has been lyrical and mysterious. I watched the documentary recently on the wolf and its magical, mysterious life on Discovery. Wolves travelled in packs, not alone. Yet, this wolf had survived and adapted, likely on seals and shellfish and other marine flotsam and jetsom, against all odds.
Online lit up with outrage. Jim Beatty, the former CHEK anchor, wrote, “What a sad tragic end to an incredible odyssey.”
Journalist and one-time colleague Kim Pemberton said, “This is truly awful. When is the bad news going to end?”
Another former colleague (I’ve worked in a lot of newsrooms) Susan Danard, said “World is a bit messed up, isn’t it? Secretly hoping the animals stage a coup and take over.”
I have never understood hunting. Not in today’s world. Perhaps when you hunted to eat. But why on earth does someone have to go out and shoot a wolf? You can’t eat it. You can’t even boast about it. Do you hang a wolf’s head on the wall? Does that fuel pride and testosterone?
To be fair, we haven’t heard the full story yet. But I can’t figure out any sane reason for killing this, or any animal in the name of fun.
We know British Columbia and Vancouver Island are prime real estate for hunters. There’s lots of game to be had. And those sporting goods stores north of Nanaimo do a roaring trade in guns and ammo and camouflage gear.
We’ve all been in those restaurants and lodges that have animal heads on the walls. Moose and bear and elk and other creatures frozen in shocked time, a testament to taxidermal expertise and man’s stupidity.
I’d like to make this real sport. Why don’t we agree that all hunters, once a year, have to be hunted themselves. Just for a day, they have to go running around in the woods, and the non-hunters take potshots at them. But with paintball pellets. Because non-hunters don’t like killing things, even stupid things, even if it would be kind of fun to hang the odd hunter’s head on the wall. OK….I’ve been cooped up for too long.
Europeans love to come to British Columbia and shoot things, mostly because they’ve shot just about every creature there is in Europe and, well, there are no grizzlies to whack in France or Germany.
They still shoot birds though. I went bike riding along a canal one Sunday morning near Carcassone in the south of France, and guns were going off all around me. Duck hunting was a popular Sunday morning sport, it turned out, and scores of hunters were shooting with delirious delight. I kept my head down as I biked. I work on the principle that most hunters have a brain the size of a pea and probably couldn’t tell the difference between a biking Canadian and a French mallard.
But yes, it’s reassuring to know that we can mourn a lone wolf at a time when we’re mourning tens of thousands of humans around the world. We mourn a fascinating creature. And an amazing story.
The hunter will be vilified. But for him, it was just another wolf. If I were him — or her, but I’m guessing it’s a him — I wouldn’t be bragging too much. Some might like to hang his head on a wall.
Read the previous diaries here: