Monday, March 15, 2021

TAKAYA

 

Takaya, beloved by Vancouver Island residents,
killed by a hunter March 24, 2020
TJ Watts photo


For eight years, you loved me,
watched me, told stories about me,
listened to my songs.

I was your connection
to the wild,
to Mystery,
to a world in which you have
forgotten you belong.

You love wolves, you say,
yet hunters are allowed
to kill us every year.
"It's legal," they justify.
But is it right?
Of you, my kind
lives in great fear.

We live in peace.
We stay as far away from Man
as we can.
But you have left us little space
in which to be.
And every time there is a choice
of territorial rights,
you choose you
and murder me.

That day, I was
enjoying the sun.
I had not eaten yet;
the day had just begun.
I smelled his presence,
but other humans
had been kind.
The bullet hit me with such shock.
He left only my tag
behind.

I see some of you have tears
that I am gone.
It was prescience,
the lonely notes
you heard last winter
in my song.



Takaya's last smile
two days before he was killed
- so trusting
TJ Watt photo


Takaya's tag


Takaya lived for eight years on a small island within swimming distance of Victoria, the southern point of Vancouver Island. First Nations believed he carried the spirit of one of their elders who died just before his appearance. He lived wild, on his own small island, but had formed a trusting relationship with a photographer, Cheryl Alexander. Sometimes when she was sitting just being near him, he would lie down at a short distance. Through her photos, and those of TJ Watt, who took the photos in this post, the public came to know and love Takaya.

All winter in 2020, people heard his lonely howls. In March, whether looking for food or seeking a mate, he swam to the city across the bay and trotted down the city street. I feared for him. Because he was so beloved, wildlife officials did not dare to kill him, as is often the case in such situations. They tranquilized him and released him in unfamiliar territory, which usually spells a death sentence for a wolf, alone in other wolves' territory. But, as usual, it was a human, a trophy hunter, who killed him two weeks later. Hunters are allowed to kill two wolves a year.

We know it was Takaya, because he was the only wolf on Vancouver Island with a yellow tag. It broke the hearts of many. WHEN will humans evolve enough to allow wild creatures the same right to live we claim for ourselves? Asking for my friend Takaya.


for Brendan's wonderful prompt at earthweal: The Animal Gaze - most often, a tale of struggle.


12 comments:

  1. I heard of Takayas story from my baby brother who lives on the Island. You have written a wonderful and telling tribute.

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  2. Here in the US, Wisconsin just sanctioned a slaughter of wolves. I just wish there was some tit for tat in this -- a season in which hunters are hunted by the wolves. That's the only way this will stop.

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  3. What a wonderful piece, thanks for sharing and raising awareness. Warm greetings!

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  4. Oh, this is so sad, Sherry! I love your poem written from Takaya’s point of view and the thought that he was the connection to the wild. We don’t have wolves in the UK, they disappeared thousands of years ago. I thought hunters were not allowed to shoot them, that it was a punishable offence. Surely the hunter must have seen the yellow tag, that he was enjoying the sun and not a threat! And what a fantastic back story about him carrying the elder’s spirit, and about him swimming across the bay to walk the city streets – claiming back his land. I’ve read other stories about wolves and humans being friends, which is understandable, as dogs are descended from them. Thanks to Cheryl Alexander and TJ Watt for capturing Takaya’s essence in their photographs.

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  5. So sad... like family I’m sure he is missed.

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  6. 'to a world in which you have
    forgotten you belong.' I was thinking about this just the other day: when did we forget that we are part of nature? I think we know it in our hearts and when we abandon that knowledge the gift is depression and despair.

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  7. This is so very sad, Sherry. The last picture breaks my heart.

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  8. This is so tragic and you give such a voice to Takaya. I do not know why and when we will evolve so we can live compassionately with all creatures but it must come soon. We need to remember the wolf's howl.

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  9. Tragic and you tell this story so well. Good to hear it and try and defend the wolves and all animals from heartless destruction.

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  10. Oh what a terrible story. I really dislike hunting for the thrill of it. People are so barbaric sometimes. Lately I have been totally dismayed by the behaviour of many. It seems to have gotten worse since Covid struck. I'm still speaking out for a better world but sometimes I feel so sickened by this one. Your poem speaks so clearly of our need to change our ways.

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  11. This is so sad! I'm sure Takaya appreciates you sharing his story.

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