Why are Wolves endangered?

Wolf Country

There are many reasons why wolves are endangered, Most people used to be afraid of wolves and thought they were dangerous to humans.

For a long time, people would get money for bringing in a dead wolf. This was called bounty hunting

(between 1850 and 1900 more that a million wolves were killed. In 1907 the call was given for the total extinction of the species.)

People also use to poison wolves, poisoning is probably the main reason there are so few wolves left today.

Myth and Superstition

The Middle Ages in Europe was a time of growing enlightenment and crushing superstition. A belief in werewolves was widespread. The Roman Church exploited this sinister image of the wolf and, during the years of the Inquisition, used the peoples' fear of werewolves to maintain secular control. When the European settlers arrived in America, they brought this dark wolf of their imaginings with them.

In contrast the indigenous people of North America both admired and emulated the wolf. The Native Americans respected the wolf's hunting abilities and honored him because he provided food for the community at large-the fox, the coyote, and the raven.

To some the wolf was seen as a wise, powerful, an instinctive hunter, a teacher in fact, of tactics humans could emulate against buffalo or caribou.

To learn more about wolf myths and stories, Click Here

Over the centuries, the wolf has come to mean different things to different cultures. Revered as a deity, or reviled as a devil, the wolf has often paid with its life for crimes it did not commit.

The Wolf today - Conflicts and Compromise

Today the wolf is starting to come back, but as its population increases so does the conflicts with humans.

There is a great emotional debate about wolf control, some want the wolf destroyed, while others think wolves should never be killed, the answer may be somewhere in the middle of these positions.

Ranchers and Farmers worry that wolves will eat their livestock - cows, sheep, pigs . Today in the areas where farmers and ranchers come into conflict with wolves, there is some killing of problem wolves by the federal government.

Today there is a strong anti-wolf lobby, Some judges and political leaders in these areas are feeling pressure to side with this lobby.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "wolf predation of live-stock; sheep, poultry, and cattle does occur, but it is uncommon enough behavior in the species as a whole to be called aberrant"

To save the wolf there may have to be a few problem wolves destroyed to save the species as a whole, there must be agreement from both the wolf conservationist and the ranchers and farmers, the alternative will be the return to the days of wolf bounty hunting. In the United States and Canada wolves are for the most part protected from unrestricted hunting, but in others countries such as Russia, and parts of eastern Europe wolf bounties are still paid. More and more wolves and man come into conflict with each other, in poor rural areas of russia for example hunting of deer and other wild game has increased causing competition between man and wolf. With less game to hunt wolves look for other food sources such as domestic sheep and cattle.

Modern reindeer husbandry also conflicts with healthy wolf populations. Consequently, populations of wolves are low in central Beringia. For example, in 1989 the number of wolves on the Seward Peninsula was estimated at only 50 to 150 individuals. In Chukotka recent decades have seen an official policy of shooting wolves from helicopters to protect reindeer herds, but there seems to be a shift away from this policy. It is said that in olden times wolves and people worked out a balance, with wolves taking what they needed from the herds, and Chukchis hunting only individual wolves that had become wasteful killers. Is it possible that such balances as these can be reestablished, not only in reindeer husbandry but all human endeavors, so that the song of the wolf will always be heard in Beringia?

Growing Human Population

With the growing human population the wolf is coming into conflict with people in areas where they have not been seen before. Wolves need lots of land, away from humans, to live and raise their families. As our population has grown, the amount of wilderness where wolves can live has gotten smaller.

The wolf has been exterminated in most of Europe in the past four centuries. pockets of wolves survive in mountainous Spain, France, Italy, and forested Finland. The wolf population of Asia has been equally decimated, although substantial numbers remain in remote corners of the Middle East and on the Russian and Mongolian steppes.

The wolf has been exterminated in most of Europe in the past four centuries. pockets of wolves survive in mountainous Spain, France, Italy, and forested Finland. The wolf population of Asia has been equally decimated, although substantial numbers remain in remote corners of the Middle East and on the Russian and Mongolian steppes.

A wolf is neither good nor evil, it seems Myth still out lives the wolf, but now many understand their nature.

And now many Ranchers and others are now seeing through a real understanding of the wolf and through some preventive measures on their part (Checking herd regularly, removing carrion, having guard dogs, etc.), Both the wolf and man can live together.

There are extremist on both sides of the wolf debate, Most ranchers don't hate wolves, but sometimes they kill their livestock, some on the other side think that wolves should never be killed for any reason, no one wants to see a wolf killed, but when man and wolf come into conflict usually the wolf will loose. It is then better for a few wolves to be put down then have a back-lash against wolves and see unrestricted hunting legalized, a compromise must be reached to save the wolf as a whole, it is unfortunate that the wolf through no fault of its own has come into conflict with us, but the reality is that with the ever shrinking wilderness that if there is no compromise the wolf may once again be on the brink of extinction.

To help protect the wolf, we will need to help protect the wilderness that is left.

Today we understand the science of the wolf, but the soul is lost. this once crafty hunter revered and respected is now seen as vermin and a danger to livestock.

The Future?

Wolves are wild animals, meant to live out their lives in freedom. When human beings interfere in the lives of wild animals, it becomes their responsibility to provide what the animals cannot provide for themselves - a healthy environment in which to live.

We must also reach a balance with those who want to see the wolf controlled, thier concerns must not be dismissed, they must become part of the conservation debate

For some wolves live in the imagination as shadows of evil, fueled by fallacy and fiction. Will they forever remain a thing of darkness or will the wolf emerge in the light of understanding?

Is the cry of the wolf a mournful farewell? or does it announce his return. Will we grant him a place to live? and in turn give ourselves something more valuable? We all must work together to ensure that the songs of the wolves will always be heard in all the wild places of our earth.

The wolf has been part of the natural balance for thousands of years, in less than 100 years man through ignorance and misinformation has almost made wolves disappear forever.