Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Well the three little pigs and Little Red Riding Hood are certainly not fans … but apart from myths, legends and children’s fairy tales, why is this beautiful creature so demonized in the modern world?
If someone asks you what is more likely to kill you; a wolf or a cow? You would probably go with the wolf, right? I know that’s what my first thought was. But let’s have a reality check.
Cows are responsible for an average of twenty two human deaths in the U.S. each year. On average wolves are responsible for zero. In fact, you are more likely to be struck by lightning or killed by an elevator than be killed by a wolf. In the 21st century, only two known deaths have been attributed to wild wolves in the entirety of North America.
The War on Wolves
So what’s with all the hysteria? Anti-wolf fanatics have been hard at it spreading myths and fairy tales, and sadly some people seem susceptible to this scaremongering and genuinely believe that the big bad wolf is going to enter their homes with fangs bared to gobble them up for dinner. You think I’m joking? I’m really not. But that’s not even the worst part. This anti-wolf rhetoric has made its way into the corridors of power.
Fairy tales are influencing legislation, regulations, public opinion and threatening the recovery of wolves and their vital contribution to our ecosystems.
I could give you countless examples of this war on wolves but let’s take a look at what’s going on in Washington state, where wolves are only just beginning to re-establish themselves after being very nearly wiped out by human persecution.
Anti-wolf fanatics have launched a campaign to demonise the wolf. In a crusade to win over the hearts and minds of Washingtonians a group by the name of Washington Residents Against Wolves (WARAW) have erected billboards carrying a warning of death and destruction to all by the big bad wolf. Snarling teeth, glaring vicious eyes … at first glance you could mistake it as an advertisement for a new horror flick. They even say that the wolf is going to kill your children! Reminds me a bit of a dingo stole my baby.
So it is pretty clear that calm, fact based debate is not on the table for the anti-wolf fanatic’s. They are steadfast in their quest of fairy tale ideologies. They even seem to openly admit this. With a quick browse of their Facebook page I noticed they have a picture of Little Red Riding Hood brandishing a gun and the message, “looks like Little Red decided to join WARAW and fight back on the wolf issue.” Well at least they are honest about the fairy tales within their ranks.
The Casualties of War
The sad fact is that, as ridiculous as this anti-wolf hysteria is, wolves do suffer and will continue to suffer as a result of this demonization. Just look at Idaho.
Over 1,470 wolves have been killed in Idaho since 2009 when the state demanded the chance to control wolves within its territory. Wolves have been slaughtered by various methods including firearms, aerial gunning, trapping and snaring. And shockingly this is just the beginning of Idaho’s war on wolves as a wolf killing fund has been set up to kill hundreds more wolves. All of this despite the fact a recent scientific study shows that killing wolves actually increases livestock predation. What an absolute tragedy.
Could this be the future for Washington’s wolves? Reassuringly Washingtonians are not falling for the fairy tales. Billboards where erected by Defenders of Wildlife to counter the anti-wolf campaign and the bulk of the funding was actually initiated by locals who thought the anti-wolf bill boards needed a response. It is wonderful to see local people taking a stand for their natural heritage and rejecting the crusade of the fanatics. But we must also speak out for wolves.
So What Can You do to Protect Wolves?
Wolves need you now more than ever to secure their full recovery.
As an apex predator, the wolf plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and thriving ecosystem. When the wolf population was removed from the Yellowstone region of Wyoming, we saw an increase in small, grazing animals who decimated the local verbiage, making tree roots less stable, leading to an increase in soil erosion. Soil erosion poses a threat to local waterways and can damage the health of aquatic life. The wolf is the stable peg that holds the entire ecosystem in balance and if we do not wish to see this same sort of degradation in Washington, or other regions of the U.S. it is up to us to protect the wolf species.
The greatest threat to wolves in the U.S. is the proposal to delist them from Endangered Species Act Protection. Demand that this reckless delisting proposal is abandoned and secure the full recovery of gray wolves.The wolves in Idaho desperately need your support. If you are sickened by the 1, 470 wolves already killed then please take part in this action.
Lead image source: Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr
в разных странах схожие проблемы, страхи, люди…
My family were farm/ranchers. We locals tried to tell morons what would happen. But nobody listened to us. It makes me mad that people like yourselves now call the stories about ranchers lives being effected livestock being destroyed, family pets taken. But that is rhetoric to a 2bit armchair warrior who really has no stake in the decision other than that the wolf "looks pretty."
I wish the article would have mentioned the ad that Budweiser ran during the Superbowl since it was very demeaning to wolves and aimed to incite fear against them. Also in theory it would have reached the largest audience of approximately 150,000,000 people. I wrote a letter to their corporate office complaining about the ad. Here is a copy of what I wrote to them:
"To CEO–I was really dismayed and disappointed in Budweiser when I saw the super bowl commercial with the puppy that got lost and the wolf growling menacingly at him. This commercial was filled with hyperbole, fear mongering and inaccurate representations of wolves. It was really disingenuous to demonize the wolf in this manner since there is no real indication based on no verification that wolves are running around at large killing peoples\’ pets (or children for that matter.) Your images and message were a gross caricature of a phantasmagoric delusion of someone who wants to incite and create hyped up drama during the super bowl by turning wolves into the childish fairy tale bad guy. We have done enough slaughtering and demonizing of wolves over the last 150 years and with their delisting on the Endangered Species Act they are now getting killed with abandon in many western states. It is ironic and absurd that you not only misinform the public about the plight of wolves but you fail to see the scope and harm that we humans are doing to millions of dogs in animal shelters that are being euthanized because they are deemed "unwanted." So the puppy running around in your commercial is much more likely to get killed in a shelter or hit by a car (both at the hands of humans) than by a wolf (or any wild animal for that matter.) You are doing a great disservice to the public by promoting such banality. l will not purchase another one of your products and will boycott your company until you make amends for this kind of ill-conceived and embarrassingly ignorant message."
Wolves are predators and must kill live animals for survival. There is no reason to judge them for that or (seemingly to hold that against them.) There is also no reason to expect them to act like harmless kittens if you are camping or hiking in areas where they live and hunt. People who expect to spend time in pristine areas where predators live need to understand they are on the predator\’s turf and acquiesce to that fact. If wolves occasionally kill cattle most states will reimburse the rancher if he can prove it was killed by a wolf (mountain lion or other predator). Most moose, deer, elk are killed by humans and that is why their numbers decline in some areas. Blaming the wolf for man-made declines just perpetrates more "wolf myths." Humans have much more negative impact on the destruction of wildlife and their habitat than any wolf ever could. Wolves do not harm ecological environments–they help sustain and preserve them. This is a scientific fact that has been studied at length for several years. So Mystella, yes indeed, "Please (do) look at all the facts."