The killing of Takaya, Canada’s famous lone wolf, highlights urgent need to outlaw trophy hunting

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on March 30, 2020 with 17 Comments

The killing last week of Takaya, the lone wolf of Canada’s Discovery Island whose story of survival and resilience captivated people around the globe, is a grim reminder of the uphill battle wolves face in the modern world.

This was a legendary young wolf, with a grit and instinct for survival that riveted conservationists. The unique life he carved for himself made him the subject of numerous documentaries and television shows, winning him fans the world over. He certainly did not deserve to die for the sake of some trophy hunter’s cheap thrill.

It is believed that Takaya ventured off on his own and away from his pack more than six years ago. While wolves rarely move out of their packs, we can only assume that the wolf–beset by the pressures that so many of his kind face today, including trophy hunting, government culls and habitat destruction—left to start a family of his own.

Takaya was first spotted travelling alone by members of the Songhees First Nation whose territory includes Discovery Island in British Columbia. He lived solo for many years, earning the sobriquet of the “lone wolf.” Earlier this year he ventured out once again, possibly on a search for food or a mate. He completed a dangerous swim across coastal waters to Victoria where he was eventually tranquilized by conservation officers, tagged and relocated to a remote area near Port Renfrew. It is there that the trophy hunter shot him.

The British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource and Rural Development, which relocated him, had a heightened responsibility to ensure his safety, especially from trophy hunters, but unfortunately it failed to do so.

Takaya’s senseless death is echoing around the world, but the sad truth is that thousands of wolves meet similar fates in Canada. In addition to the threats of trophy hunts and aerial shooting, wolves are targeted by trappers in several provinces, and continue to be poisoned in Alberta (which still allows the use of extremely dangerous and inhumane poisons, such as strychnine and compound 1080).

There is a vast disconnect between public attitudes towards trophy hunting and the actions of provincial governments in managing wildlife populations. Nowhere is this discrepancy more clear than in British Columbia, where polls show more than 90% opposition to trophy hunting, and yet the government continues to authorize trophy hunts, and even permits the promotion of wildlife killing contests, similar to those we are fighting here in the United States.

HSI/Canada has, for many years, made it a top priority to protect wolves from trophy hunting and culls. We led a coalition of groups in successfully shutting down Ontario’s plan to expand wolf and coyote hunting in 2016, and in British Columbia, HSI is working to end the province’s archaic and scientifically unsound wolf culling program as well as killing contests that promote recreational trophy hunting.

The situation stateside is not much different for wolves. Here, too, they face multiple threats from climate change, habitat destruction and trophy hunters.

Last year, the Trump administration proposed and is now considering a rule that would end federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the lower 48 states, leaving them to the mercy and inconsistency of state law. Not long ago, we wrote about the challenges wolves who leave the safety of Yellowstone National Park face because of rampant trophy hunting, trapping and predator control in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. And last year, Oregon opened the door to future trophy hunting of its small population of wolves.

We are keeping up the pressure on the U.S. government and states to stop persecuting wolves. Wolves in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and other midwestern states are still federally protected from trophy hunting because of litigation brought by the HSUS. And in the wake of Takaya’s death, HSI/Canada is calling on the British Columbia government to prohibit the trophy hunting of wolves throughout the province.

An op-ed last week in the Globe and Mail likened the killing of Takaya to that of Cecil the lion, who was killed by an American trophy hunter in 2015. The deaths of both these animals, so beloved by so many animal lovers worldwide, are indeed stark reminders of the heavy price the world’s wildlife pays when our lawmakers pander to trophy hunters. It is high time we stop this injustice. U.S. and Canadian laws should reflect the wishes of the vast majority of citizens who love animals and would rather see them survive in the wild, not those of a handful of trophy hunters who kill for fun.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. David Bernazani says:

    Please reveal the name of the person who murdered Takaya, so we can shame him like we did Walter Palmer, the killer of Cecil. He doesn’t deserve to hide in anonymity.

    • Pete Braun says:

      If the trophy hunter was stupid enough to brag about it, then the odds of uncovering his identity are good.

    • Frannie J says:

      If you want to shame people, shame the boards of the elite hunting groups. They are the same trophy hunter sas the one who killed the lone wolf, except they are worse because they lobby for trophy hunter privileges. It public record who they are and they all have businesses too which is how they afford to to what they do

      • gerald O says:

        ‘if you want to shame people, shame the boards of the elite hunting groups.’ anybody specific you have in mind?

    • Carol Keith says:

      I agree. There should be no hiding after such an event as this. If they are so tough, let them come to show us.

  2. Daniel O'Brien says:

    Please keep the wolf population stable and stop killing them because they are top predators and keep ecosystems in balance and prey animals down and not too high. Since they were reintroduced to Yellowstone after being absent for several years before I was born, they helped fix up the National Park and we must not allow any trophy hunters near them. Also, do not allow any rollbacks of environmental protections by that rude president Trump. He is in so much trouble for doing this to nature since he doesn’t respect it.

  3. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Necesitamos detener esto no es posible que por diversión estemos acabando con nuestras especies y nuestro mundo solo por diversión

  4. GORD says:

    Ever since the CBC documentory on TAKAYA I fell in love with this wolf///I have his pictures plastered on my computer////Before this virus hit the world,I was planning to go to the BC coast to view this beautiful GODS creature in person/// I dream of his lonely howl—gives me shivers and goosebumps—and his eyes that shows what he went thru as a lonely wolf///TAKAYA was not violent or scared of nothing\\ How anyone with a heartbeat could kill one of GOD”amazing creatures will never understand it///TAKAYA gave millions of people a reason to live and enjoy the wild outdoors that he did///RIP TAKAYA–I will never forget you\\\

    • Maggie says:

      I don’t even understand how killing animals is some sort of ‘amazing accomplishment’. What do trophy hunters do that’s so special. I can understand if they need to defend themselves, or they need food. But killing animals for enjoyment and sport, and literally nothing else really says a lot about how mentally dangerous and disgusting these animal killers are. Takaya or any animal did not need to die for a big hunk of gold metal. You only deserve a trophy if you accomplish something NECESSARY. Not for killing an animal that wasn’t even attacking anyone. But I agree with you these are graceful and beautiful animals being killed for boasting someones worthless ego.

    • Jack Lavallee says:

      Yes, this is heartbreaking, I grew up a trapper and lived off the land trapping and hunting, in the late 70s and early 80s, but I was taught the most important thing, respect, if I didn’t need it , I would not take it, there was no need to kill Tayaka , it hurt our way of life back then when people faught against trapping but I can see why they did it, too many trappers and hunters not respecting anything, just kill for bragging rights, you make a comment, now I hope they can stop this trophy hunting of great animals who should be able to stay alive for all of us to see, not on somebody’s wall

  5. Michele Jankelow says:

    What an absolute tragedy! Man and his gun epitomizes the horrors of man’s blood lust. What honour, what decency, what respect, what a tragedy for animals that this has to be endured time and time again! Hang your head in shame you despicable person!

  6. Natalie Durer says:

    This is truely heartbreaking
    I’ve never understood people’s desire to destroy beautiful animals for their own sick pleasure.
    Please keep up the fight to make this illegal and save any more wolves from the same fate

  7. Kathleen E. says:

    This was a horrific act. All hunting and trapping od wildlife must be banned id we hope to preserve any id or wildlife at all. The ESA must be upheld against the onslaught of the Trump administration.

  8. Anita Bainbridge says:

    Shame on all “humankind” for allowing trophy hunting. All trapping of wildlife
    and trophy hunting must be banned.

  9. Amanda Bowman says:

    I don’t understand why trophy hunting is legal. I don’t get why these animals are hunted down and killed because some one thinks it’s fun. It’s ashame. This shit makes me sick. That poor baby. He was beautiful. Selfish evil humans.

  10. Jessica Bianco says:

    This is such a tragedy and makes me ashamed as a Canadian that these loose laws and idiotic behaviours of certain people are still permitted in this day and age. Why does it always seem that hunters have so much priority in both Canada and the US? Why do governments give these individuals so many freedoms to disrupt ecosystems and kill much needed predators? This needs to stop!

  11. Celia Metcalf says:

    This was a horrific act. Takaya’s tragic death should never have happened. Stop the inhumane and senseless killings of these magnificent animals who are an important part of the eco system and have every right to live. All hunting and trapping of wildlife must be banned if we hope to preserve any wildlife at all. The hunter who did this should be brought forward and shamed. RIP beautiful Takayya.

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