The Pack is Back

Big and Bad or Wrongly Accused?
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The definition, or role of the wolf in the wild has been strongly debated. Is the wolf a misunderstood, wrongly accused killer? Robert Fowler believes that "wolves are scavengers and clean up messes that other animals of prey have killed." He adds that when humans witness this, their reaction is to automatically blame the wolf for killing that animal.

D. Anderson and Outdoorsman disagree, citing the wolf as a sheer predator of livestock. “As for wolves being scavengers—that's about as far off the mark as you can get. It happens more than on occasion that wolves attack livestock,” says Outdoorsman.

How about wolves attacking humans? We know about tales of poor old grandma getting gulped by the big bad wolf, or the freakish werewolf preying on unknowing suburban teenagers, but are wolves really a threat to us?

Time magazine reported on a boy being dragged from a campfire by his face where he and his group were sleeping and his group had to throw rocks and sticks at it to scare it off,” claims Outdoorsman.

Saying that claims such as this are anecdotal evidence passed off by “wolf-haters”, Pete asks, “Where's the evidence? If this event actually occurred, is there any proof that the attacking animal wasn't a dog-wolf hybrid, which is known to be more unpredictable and unstable than a full-blooded wolf?”

“Even if this attack were documented fact, so what? Several people each year are attacked and killed by deer! Where's the outcry to exterminate them?” Pete continues. “There are even a few documented incidents of squirrels attacking people. I have yet to read about any group calling for the complete removal of squirrels from our public lands!”

Robert Fowler agrees. “Wolves are not man-eaters nor aggressive as they have been made out to be,” he says. "Wolves just want to be left alone to live as God intended them to live. It is the aggressiveness and unfounded superstitions of man that have people afraid of them."

Many other forum guests agreed that wolves are not a threat to humans. John MacDonald, who has had the opportunity to get up close and personal with wolves, says that the only thing they'll do is howl at you. And Rodney Adams believes there is no direct evidence that wolves are a threat to human life, only “human lifestyles.”

Still, despite lack of evidence that wolves are a threat to humans, it is hard to separate myth from reality.

D. Anderson summed it up by saying, “I don't know about you, but I don't care much to be out in the dark walking in the woods full of wolves that ate up all the deer and are looking for something to tide them over.”

Many forum guests believe that the issue of wolf versus ranchers and livestock is the result of humans forcing wildlife out of their habitat. More and more land is being claimed by humans, thus leaving wolves and other species to wander, minimizing boundaries.

“You can only push so far,” says William. “Laws should be created to stop this ruthless destruction of our wilderness. The animals one day will retaliate, like the mountain lion is doing.”

Jennifer Collenburg agrees and believes that with education, children can learn to act responsibly and respect the natural world. “They are our future leaders and through them, wilderness areas and big-game wildlife will survive,” she says.

Which brings up the question of whether it is ethical for man to interfere with the wolf population, whether by choosing to eliminate or reintroduce them.

“I think wolves are a beautiful animal but I also believe that man has the right to control their population when it gets out of hand,” says Armin Johnson of Canada. “The Bible says something about us having dominion over the animals.”

Not everyone shared this sentiment on the Christian Bible. Tom Buckley responded, “I wasn't aware that my actions, or my values regarding human-wildlife interactions, were supposed to be dictated by the contents of the Christian Bible. I've been operating under the curious assumption that as a sentient being and a member of a huge community of other sentient beings with whom I can readily communicate, we may be able to determine an appropriate course of action in light of a consensus of our values as humans.”

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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