On quiet summer nights, Tom Henry could hear the wolf pack howling from his Metchosin livestock farm.
“Haunting beyond belief. So, so deeply nature,” recalled Henry, from Stillmeadow Farm. “We welcomed it.”
When Henry learned members of the local wolf pack may have been killed, he was devastated.
“We’re devastated,” he said. “We don’t understand why this would happen.”
A hunter living on the Island posted photos to social media in January holding up what appeared to be two dead wolves from the pack. In a Facebook post, she wrote she had “caught wind of a problem wolf pack that was snatching people’s cats and dogs.”
She went on to say she had dusted off the traps, set them out and one of the wolves had come in.
“Full pack removal is always the goal, so now we adjust and reset,” the hunter wrote on her Facebook profile.
In the more than 70 years Stillmeadow Farm has been operating, a wolf has never killed one of their sheep.
“We have no troubles with wolves at all,” Henry said. “We lose sheep to cougars, to bears, to dogs, residential, suburban kind of dogs every year. We’ve never lost our livestock to the wolves.”
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) told CHEK News it has received only a “handful” of calls in the past year about the Sooke-Metchosin wolves and “all were reports of sightings only.”
It added the BCCOS has not received any wolf hunting or trapping related complaints requiring investigation.
Now, the district of Sooke is calling on the province to put a pause on recreational wolf hunting until changes are made to regulation.
“Our community is a popular destination for crabbing and if you poach or harvest an undersized crab, there’s a fine and consequence to that,” said Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. “And to hear there’s no protection in place for these majestic creatures, it’s just incredibly sad.”
Tait wrote a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development earlier this month, showing support for a resolution put forward by the district of Oak Bay.
The resolution requests the province “implement a moratorium on recreational wolf hunting on Vancouver Island” pending completion of a study that examines the efficacy of unrestricted wolf harvesting practices and their impacts.
“Right now, there’s nothing. There’s nothing to distinguish a sea wolf from a rat. It can be trapped, tortured and killed,” Tait said.
“I know that changing regulation takes time so a moratorium at least, on hunting, would allow some form of immediate protection while the province reaches out and does its other work.”
In a statement to CHEK News, Minister Katrine Conroy said the hunters she knows are conservationists too and support activities that protect populations.
“This kind of story is something that most hunters would find offensive,” Conroy said. “This person is abusing the hunting regulations just to boost her own profile.”
Conroy said the ministry will be working with the BC Wildlife Federation and the BC Trappers Association to change the regulations and “to close this loophole so this type of behaviour is prevented in the future.”