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  • Local wolf pack wiped out?


    Judith Lavoie
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    Many in the Sooke area are heartbroken that a wolf pack that no one was complaining about may have been wiped out.

     

    FOR MORE THAN A YEAR, naturalist and wildlife researcher Gary Schroyen followed the activities of five wolves that ranged around Metchosin and East Sooke.

    In many ways, images captured on Schroyen’s wildlife cameras demonstrated that the pack, which he named the Meteask wolf pack, could live harmoniously among humans.

    Most area residents were unaware of the proximity of the wolves, which lived on deer and small mammals, and Scott Norris of the BC Conservation Officer Service confirmed that there have been no reports of the pack killing pets or livestock.

    “We’re not really getting any [complaints]…Nothing more than a sighting or a potential sighting. We haven’t had calls from concerned people at all,” Norris told Focus.

    All of which makes the deliberate killing of the wolves more tragic, say residents and wildlife observers who are mourning the loss of the animals and pushing for the provincial government to tighten regulations around wolf hunting and trapping.

    “This is a prime example, a model example of a wolf pack that can co-exist with people,” Schroyen said.

     

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    Naturalist Gary Schroyen

     

    The wolves were apparently trapped by trophy hunter Jacine Jadresko of Victoria, who goes by the name of the Inked Huntress and hunts animals around the world. 

    Jadresko, who could not be contacted by Focus, previously said on social media she was aiming to remove an entire pack of wolves in the Sooke area because they were threatening people and attacking pets. She then posted photos of herself with two dead wolves.

    The loss is felt deeply by Schroyen, who uses a series of wildlife cameras, placed strategically in well-used wolf territory with the help of Shadow, his 13-year-old border collie who sniffs out wolf scat and identifies scent markings and scuffs.

    “I have spent maybe 1,000 hours researching these wolves,” he said.

    Over the last year Schroyen, who has also studied other wolf packs on Vancouver Island, has often heard howls from the Meteask pack—frequently close by—and has gathered numerous videos, photos and recordings, but has never encountered the animals face to face. 

    “I was able to identify the different wolves based on their tail markings and it is clear there are five different individuals,” said Schroyen, who did not previously disclose information about the wolves for their own protection.

    But, after more than a month without any sign of the pack, he is convinced they are all dead and he has posted a poignant video with the introduction “In memory of the wolves that I have come to know as the Meteask Wolf Pack. The wolves that chose to co-exist among the people of Metchosin and East Sooke.”

     

    “The Wolves Among Us,” a short video by Gary Schroyen

     

    The video opens with a wolf joyfully playing with its food—tossing a dead squirrel in the air—and footage of the wolves at night, passing the camera in formation.

    It also includes pictures, taken February 6 and 7, of Jadresko with two dead wolves and concludes with images taken about 10 days later of a lone wolf panting, sniffing and walking slowly down a path.

    Schroyen believes that was the last wolf left in the pack and some of the final camera images show her heading towards the area where he knew snares had been set.

    The traps were on property close to Beecher Bay and, judging from blood on the rear leg of one of the wolves, Schroyen believes they were trapped and then shot.

    For days before the last images were taken, the lone wolf returned to the same area, he said.

    “It led me to believe she was searching for the rest of her pack and just doing loops around. It’s incredibly rare for the same wolf to keep coming back to the same area,” he said.

    Schroyen knows it would be unusual for the wolf to leave her territory and he believes she is dead, which is why he decided to post the video.

    “The pictures speak for themselves. I just wanted to show the public the side of wolves that the media don’t usually show,” he said.

    UPDATE Following initial publication of this story, a spokesperson for Jadresko told FOCUS that Jadresko has seen evidence on her own trail cameras as recent as two weeks ago (as of March 30, 2021) that the wolf pack is alive and well. 

     

    Community outraged and heartbroken at wolf killing

    People have forgotten how to live with animals, said Schroyen, who is “sickened” by people who kill for the sake of killing and then glorify the deaths on social media.

    A 2017 CBC Fifth Estate story on Jadresko describes her hunting bears and giraffes and her desire to kill an elephant. She told the Fifth Estate that kill pictures demonstrate “respect for the animal.” After killing a lion she posted pictures of herself with the dead animal and then a post-taxidermy photo with the caption “Look who’s all stuffed and ready to come home with me.”

    Sooke Mayor Maja Tait has fired off a letter to Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Katrine Conroy to share the community outrage at the destruction of the pack and to support an Oak Bay resolution calling for a moratorium on recreational wolf hunting.

     

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    Sooke Mayor Maja Tait

     

    The resolution, which is going to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities and the Union of BC Municipalities for support, asks the Province for a moratorium until there is a “scientific, data-driven and evidence-based study that includes consultation with the Island’s Indigenous communities, to re-examine the efficacy of unrestricted wolf harvesting practices and their impacts on the Island’s biodiversity, wildlife ecology and sustainability of the resident wolf population.”

    Many in Sooke were sickened by the “callous threat” by a Victoria big-game hunter to trap and kill an entire pack, especially as so many groups are working to protect wildlife and habitat, says the letter.

    The Sooke organization Project HOWL (Help Our Wolves Live), founded by teenagers Finn and Chloe Unger, has documented packs of Vancouver Island “sea wolves” roaming the Sooke Hills and looked at the role the wolves play in a balanced ecosystem while the Wild Wise Sooke Society and Coexisting with Carnivores have a living-with-wolves working group aiming to educate people on the importance of wolves as a keystone species.

    Sam Webb, Wild Wise president, said numerous people have shared videos or tapes of howling wolves, both from the Meteask pack and a couple of packs in the Sooke Hills.

    “We feel we got to know them, not necessarily on a personal level, but the community really started to love them,” she said.

    Sadly, Jadresko apparently killed the wolves legally and there is outrage in Sooke and surrounding communities and concern about the future of other packs, Webb said.

    “To take out a whole pack is just not good wildlife management,” she said, pointing out that controlling outside cats and keeping dogs on leash are better strategies. “You can see the comments of people who are just heartbroken that this happened right in our backyard,” she said.

    Sooke is growing and there is a concerted effort to make residents aware that, in a rural community, there is a need to co-exist with the carnivore population, said Tait, adding that most people thought it was cool to have a wolf pack in the area. 

    “Then we find out that they have been trapped and murdered. How long have they been here, just co-existing peacefully?” Tait asked. “So then this one selfish person decided on her own to do this…What is it—boredom? You’re just going to kill these animals because you can’t travel and kill some endangered species elsewhere because of COVID. I’m so disgusted by it, it really makes me upset,” she said.

    Tait pointed out that people are fined for poaching crabs, but there is no penalty for killing wolves. “They have no protection. They are treated like vermin and there needs to be some level of protection and a consequence,” she said.

    Almost 72,000 people have signed a petition asking for a moratorium on wolf hunting and trapping, as population data is scarce and relies largely on reports from hunters.

    A new poll, conducted by Mario Canseco Research and commissioned by The Fur-Bearers, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, shows public opinion appears to swing solidly in favour of more controls.

    The survey found 87 percent of those polled disagree with hunting or trapping wolves to increase ungulate hunting opportunities, 90 percent disagree with killing wolves for fur and 91 percent disagree with “recreational” killing of wolves.

    A large majority of British Columbians also disagree with killing wolves with neck snares, leg hold traps, poison or aerial gunning—a tactic used by the provincial government to control wolves in areas where caribou are threatened—according to the survey.

    However, more than half of British Columbians surveyed agree with eliminating wolves when they kill unprotected livestock.

    The Province has no information about the distribution of wolf packs, but estimates there are about 250 wolves on Vancouver Island and the ministry says the population is not under threat.

    Hunters on Vancouver Island have a bag limit of three wolves for anyone holding a basic hunting licence, with no special tag required, meaning the Province relies on hunters self-reporting.

    There are 217 wildlife management units in BC where wolves are likely to live; 115 of those areas have no bag limits or closed season on wolves.

    Conroy has said she will look at closing “loopholes” in the wolf trapping and hunting rules. When asked whether the actions of Jadresko were legal and ethical, she pointed to a previous statement to Focus.

    In that emailed statement Conroy said “The hunters I know are conservationists too; they support activities that protect populations. This kind of story is something that most hunters would find offensive. This person is abusing the hunting regulations just to boost her own profile.”

     

    Repercussions of eliminating wolves

    The basic problem is that the government and conservation officers continue to treat wolves as vermin and encourage hunters to kill them, said Gary Allan of the SWELL Wolf Education Centre in Nanaimo.

    Valid scientific evidence is needed to justify killing wolves, not anecdotal information from hunters and ranchers, said Allan, describing hunting surveys, used to assess wolf populations, as useless.

    Allan also noted that eliminating an entire pack is likely to have unforeseen consequences. History shows that cougars will likely move into the vacuum until another wolf pack repopulates the area, said Allan.

    “If you get a younger wolf pack that is not as accomplished in hunting their traditional prey, experience has shown us they will predate on livestock,” he said.

    “So you see the damage that this one trapper/hunter will do to both the wolves, the livestock and humans in the Metchosin/East Sooke area,” he said.

    Many Indigenous communities revere wolves as an integral part of the culture, but the question of hunting and trapping is complicated and controversial according to Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs president.

    “It’s very much a part of our spiritual connection to the land and our beliefs,” he said. “But a major concern to a lot of different groups, including Indigenous hunters, is a wolf sustains itself on 40 pounds of meat a day, so a pack of five can have a devastating effect on the population of deer and moose and caribou that sustain Indigenous people,” he said.

    The essential part of the equation is for the NDP government to consult Indigenous communities on any changes to regulations, Phillip said.

    Meanwhile, Schroyen has summed up his feelings with a quote from author Farley Mowat, which he used in the video.

    “We have doomed the wolf, not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be—the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless kill, which is, in reality, no more than a reflected image of ourself.”

    Judith Lavoie is an award-winning journalist specializing in the environment, First Nations, and social issues. Twitter @LavoieJudith

     

    Video of Finn and Chloe Unger, Sooke residents, on wolves as a keystone species:

     

     

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    She was not alone in her culpability,someone invited her. If she was killing people , she would be called a serial killer. Because she is killing animals ,with all its inherent grey areas, she is called a hunter.  Short of harming her in retaliation , it is important to channel our rage into changing the laws into ones that will arbitrarily protect and provide deterrents to future killers. Seek a balanced world, protect the watersheds, leave only footprints and let the wild creatures be. Rage against the injustice, but do it with intent.

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    “Respect for the animals she kills, honouring them by picking them, each one is special to me”, ... blah blah blah 

    The money she spends on killing international and local animals (with as much right to be here as she has), could be better spent supporting the children who live in her killing fields and leaving the animals alone.

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    Thank you Focus and Judith Lavoie for this article.  Most of all, thank you Gary Schroyen.  You are the ultimate nature ally to the wolves of Sooke.  What can one say that hasn't already been expressed by others here?  Or that which I already expressed  here

    Perhaps because I have been intensively active in wolf conservation and ecology, I am impatient for the public discussion to evolve past the cliches: we haven't had any complaints, there have been no calls from concerned people.  When are we going to grow-up and accept that "Little Red Riding Hood" is a fairytale?  

    I concur with others who regard this as a colonialistic viewpoint that needs to be challenged.  Our European forebears ravaged ecosystems and this frontier mentality needs to be consigned to the past.

    Healthy wolves are not interested in eating you for dinner.  And wolves are specialists in wild predation.  They prefer wild prey.  And if you are so irresponsible as to let your pets run unaccompanied in the forest because you can't be bothered to exercise them then yes, a wolf might kill it as a wolf might kill any other interloping wolf. 

    Pity the domestic pet and shame on the owner.

    If you are a farmer or rancher, you owe it to your flock or herd to protect them.  You also owe it to the wild predators on whom you are encroaching to safeguard your livestock with non-lethal wolf deterrents including increased human presence, woven wire and electric fencing, a squad of trained guard dogs of specific breeds, llamas, donkeys and flagging.

    The positive comments by the inhabitants of Sooke for the local wolves is an indication of high social tolerance for them.  Is that to some degree borne out of ignorance?  Probably.  Many did not know they were there.  But I think there is irrefutable evidence to show that the majority support an end to year-round unlimited wolf hunting and trapping.

    It is high time that the BC provincial government acts.  I certainly hope that Raincoast Conservation is consulted as they seem to have done more for BC conservation than anyone.  And their researchers have pioneered  a social license approach to hunting that is even more progressive than the stakeholder model.

    I caution that a “scientific, data-driven and evidence-based study that includes consultation with the Island’s Indigenous communities, to re-examine the efficacy of unrestricted wolf harvesting practices and their impacts on the Island’s biodiversity, wildlife ecology and sustainability of the resident wolf population.”  sounds very bureaucratic.  "Management" has historically meant culling and it is time to move the baseline on from that as a starting point.  Nature's self-organizing principle means that nature will find its own stasis if we would stop meddling with it.  The research has already been done.  Contact the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, USA and they can signpost you. 

    It is time to take back wildlife management and conservation from the hunting community.  The North American approach to funding conservation through license (user) fees and setting policy that appeases deer hunters et al is archaic and not used in Europe.  Besides the number of licensed hunters is declining, hence the revenue stream.

    I disagree that wolves eat 40lbs of flesh daily.  Sometimes they don't eat for days and then gorge on a large mammal over a couple days.  I don't know where Grand Chief Stewart Phillip got that information but I believe it is incorrect.

    Finally, Indigenous or non-indigenous, trapping is a cruel and inhumane practice that has no place in a civilized society. 

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    Apex predators are essential pillars of a healthy ecosystem. Kill them and you create a domino effect that  harms the network of biodiversity we live in.  Few regions in North America  are so  deeply fortunate to have bears, wolves and cougars in their area. Let's not mess this up.  

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    On 2021-03-27 at 12:14 PM, Guest Jail said:

    Should this person that killed these wonderful animals be jailed ?

    I think so , we need to stop letting this go on. 

     

    Unfortunately, it looks like the hunter's actions were legal. So there's nothing she could be jailed for. The law needs to change.

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    On 2021-03-27 at 8:14 PM, Guest Jail said:

    Should this person that killed these wonderful animals be jailed ?

    I think so , we need to stop letting this go on. 

     

    YES !! She should be in jail for 50 years without parole

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    This should be a crime. This is just one more way the NDP government is mismanaging natural resources in the province. The forests are disappearing, the animals are dying. What will be left for future generations.

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    On 2021-03-27 at 2:24 PM, Guest George Costanza said:

    Here's a sporting thought.  What if for every hunting license sold we sell two to hunt the hunter?  That could level the playing field.

    This is a pathetic comment.

    You people better get your facts straightened out before you start making threats. 

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    14 hours ago, Doug Pazienza said:

    Thank you Focus and Judith Lavoie for this article.  Most of all, thank you Gary Schroyen.  You are the ultimate nature ally to the wolves of Sooke.  What can one say that hasn't already been expressed by others here?  Or that which I already expressed  here

    Perhaps because I have been intensively active in wolf conservation and ecology, I am impatient for the public discussion to evolve past the cliches: we haven't had any complaints, there have been no calls from concerned people.  When are we going to grow-up and accept that "Little Red Riding Hood" is a fairytale?  

    I concur with others who regard this as a colonialistic viewpoint that needs to be challenged.  Our European forebears ravaged ecosystems and this frontier mentality needs to be consigned to the past.

    Healthy wolves are not interested in eating you for dinner.  And wolves are specialists in wild predation.  They prefer wild prey.  And if you are so irresponsible as to let your pets run unaccompanied in the forest because you can't be bothered to exercise them then yes, a wolf might kill it as a wolf might kill any other interloping wolf. 

    Pity the domestic pet and shame on the owner.

    If you are a farmer or rancher, you owe it to your flock or herd to protect them.  You also owe it to the wild predators on whom you are encroaching to safeguard your livestock with non-lethal wolf deterrents including increased human presence, woven wire and electric fencing, a squad of trained guard dogs of specific breeds, llamas, donkeys and flagging.

    The positive comments by the inhabitants of Sooke for the local wolves is an indication of high social tolerance for them.  Is that to some degree borne out of ignorance?  Probably.  Many did not know they were there.  But I think there is irrefutable evidence to show that the majority support an end to year-round unlimited wolf hunting and trapping.

    It is high time that the BC provincial government acts.  I certainly hope that Raincoast Conservation is consulted as they seem to have done more for BC conservation than anyone.  And their researchers have pioneered  a social license approach to hunting that is even more progressive than the stakeholder model.

    I caution that a “scientific, data-driven and evidence-based study that includes consultation with the Island’s Indigenous communities, to re-examine the efficacy of unrestricted wolf harvesting practices and their impacts on the Island’s biodiversity, wildlife ecology and sustainability of the resident wolf population.”  sounds very bureaucratic.  "Management" has historically meant culling and it is time to move the baseline on from that as a starting point.  Nature's self-organizing principle means that nature will find its own stasis if we would stop meddling with it.  The research has already been done.  Contact the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, USA and they can signpost you. 

    It is time to take back wildlife management and conservation from the hunting community.  The North American approach to funding conservation through license (user) fees and setting policy that appeases deer hunters et al is archaic and not used in Europe.  Besides the number of licensed hunters is declining, hence the revenue stream.

    I disagree that wolves eat 40lbs of flesh daily.  Sometimes they don't eat for days and then gorge on a large mammal over a couple days.  I don't know where Grand Chief Stewart Phillip got that information but I believe it is incorrect.

    Finally, Indigenous or non-indigenous, trapping is a cruel and inhumane practice that has no place in a civilized society. 

    I think the basis of psychopathic behavior stands alone as a fitting argument to make this activity illegal.   It really is the most simple and appropriate reaction.  To keep society safe, we must demand behavior that is modeled after non-violence and respect for life.  

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    The idea to pressure government to change the law is the proper tactic to alter existing regulations. Science based not emotion based. Legally hunting and trapping wolves is legal in B.C. Words like “trophy hunting” and “murdering animals”are emotional based words and are false under the current law. Seeing suggestions that the hunter be hunted or jailed or beaten sickens me. Peace loving people don’t advocate for hate crimes. The entire wolf pack was not wiped out that is impossible. 2 were taken the rest moved out of the area.
    “Lovingly playing with a dead squirrel”. OMG. That pack would soon become Sookes worst nightmare. 

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    30 minutes ago, Guest Lawman101 said:

    The idea to pressure government to change the law is the proper tactic to alter existing regulations. Science based not emotion based. Legally hunting and trapping wolves is legal in B.C. Words like “trophy hunting” and “murdering animals”are emotional based words and are false under the current law. Seeing suggestions that the hunter be hunted or jailed or beaten sickens me. Peace loving people don’t advocate for hate crimes. The entire wolf pack was not wiped out that is impossible. 2 were taken the rest moved out of the area.
    “Lovingly playing with a dead squirrel”. OMG. That pack would soon become Sookes worst nightmare. 

    I suggest you read my comments to "What really killed Takaya" that address the morals, ethics and principles which inform individual behaviour and the implicit social contract that we are beholden to as members of society.  I would hope the criminology course you took to get into law enforcement addressed these personal attributes that underpin common law....  Most of us here do not dispute the legality of Jadresko's actions or the actions of trophy hunters like her.  Rather we are appalled by the absence of morality in her decision to interpret the law in this way and act upon it as she did.  If you are in mental health as I am, then you will be alarmed at the frequency and scale of compulsive killing that she and others take so much pleasure in doing.  Are you not concerned for public safety when people as mentally disturbed as Jadresko are in possession of and licensed to use deadly firearms?  How can you register your disgust that commenters think the hunter should be jailed but dismiss the carnage, gruesomeness, pain and sufferring inflicted on animals by this/these individual(s)?  Yours are not the words of a peace loving person.

    The time is coming when BC govt will have to reconcile itself to the power of the people who will demand change in the law and will get it. 

    The saddest side to this whole thing is that you can't see that if a person can inflict that kind of cruelty on a wild animal, they can just as easily do it to a pet, and they can just as easily do it to another human. 

    Please consider carefully what you post as a law enforcement officer (if that's what you are).

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    With organizations such as National Geographic taking an interest in our Island wolves, and the discovery that they are unique, I am gobsmacked that we allow hunting of an animal that numbers around 250. 
    literally any other animal with numbers so low would be protected by being considered endangered. I am not against hunting and fishing but at the same time out island wolves number too few to be allowing hunting of them. Especially trophy hunting such as has happened recently in East Sooke where the community mourns the loss of an entire pack at the hands of a person who eradicated them with the only goal of Instagram likes. 
     

    it’s time to stop killing them.

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    This is to inform the "Inked Huntress" that my 4 acres in East Sooke is a weapons-free animal sanctuary where all creatures are welcome, though she is not.

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    Absolutely unacceptable. This fellow researched them and spends over a year following this very pack and some sad excuse for a human comes in and kills them for herself. Greed, selfishness and just sick in the head. WHY? There was no valid reason to do so and don’t you dare say conservation. 
    this has to change. 
    enough is enough. 
    the government and people have and MUST do better.

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    It's ridiculous that hunter's claim to be 'stewards' & 'conservationists' and hold this attitude that wildlife is only for them to choose whether they live or die. Letting hunters have any authority over stewardship and conservation is like letting arsonists manage fire fighting, or the NRA overseeing gun control. Hunting should entirely be under the purview of true conservationists and naturalists that seek to preserve life in the ecosystem rather than alter it for the psychopathic pleasure of trophy killing. 

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    Guest Inked Huntress is a _____

    Posted

    This sort of story makes me so angry that I honestly start shaking and wish things upon said person that I wouldn't on anyone else.

    If you kill animals for sport, you deserve to be hunted for sport too.

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