Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages by Will N. Graves, Edited by Dr. Valerius Geist
Wolves in Russia is an extraordinary piece of work. It became obvious to me only a few pages into this book that the author, Will N. Graves, did an incredible amount of research. Having said that, I would like to say that before I read this book, I thought I had a pretty good grasp and understanding of wolves, their habits and their affect on man. I’ve been subjected to a huge learning curve.
I have to admit also that when I first learned of Wolves in Russia, my initial question became, “Why would I care about wolves in Russia?” I’ve learned that wolves are wolves no matter where they are. What might make them act differently are circumstances. These circumstances are vital to a complete and proper understanding of this creature.
There’s no better place to go to learn about wolves than Russia. After all, they do have the history of wolves. Circumstances, although different from ours, are essential if we are to learn about North American wolves as their population grows and expands outward into more regions of North America. It has only been until recently, after the fall of communism, that we have been able to retrieve documented wolf activities in Russia. This is much of the work Will Graves has done in this book.
Wolves in Russia educates the reader with spine-tingling, real life tragedies of wolf attacks on humans, numbering into the thousands, as well as pets, livestock and wild animals. Graves shares the seemingly unending accounts of poor and unprotected Russian peasants being subjected to attacks by wolves and terrified in the knowledge that wolves carry disease, such as rabies, of which years ago there was no cure.
The documented accounts should help us all gain a better understanding of wolves, a different respect for the vicious predator and just as importantly, give us a base of knowledge to learn how not to repeat the tragedies of what transpired in Russia and Eastern Europe here in the West.
Wolves in Russia also helps dispel the many myths associated with wolves. The more common myths are that wolves prey only on the sick and old. Evidence provided here shows that not to be the case at all. As a matter of fact, there is evidence to suggest that wolves, being the intelligent and adaptable creatures that they are, can actually recognize the healthier animals and choose to attack them.
Another myth that gets busted is the one that wolves only kill what they need to eat. Graves tells us of one account of two adult wolves killing 96 sheep inside an enclosure, in one hour’s time. Account after account shows us that wolves kill for more reasons than simply the need to eat.
The idea that only rabid wolves attack people is unfounded and proven false. In the documented accounts shared by Graves, it is clear that a large percentage of wolf attacks on humans are from sick wolves, evidence suggests that over 30% come from very healthy wolves proving that it is not just the sick wolves that attack humans.
One thing that becomes clear in studying this book is that it is easy to see that as populations of wolves rise and fall, so too do attacks on humans, incidents of disease and wild ungulate populations.
There are many things we in North America need to learn from the history of wolves in Russia. The main questions might become, what is so different between the people of Russia and the people of North America? Are there that many more wolves in Russia than in North American and how does this compare with human populations? Why aren’t people here in the West being attacked by wolves?
Those questions are all answered in this book but there is one thing that became abundantly clear to me. Managing wolves is an extremely difficult task. Merely hunting and trapping them may not get the job done. Controlling population numbers and growth has to be an ongoing effort and as is shown to us in Wolves in Russia, any lapse in that effort has dire consequences.
The effort of Will Graves should be commended. Hopefully this book will open up better and more complete research into our studies and understanding of the wolf as we press into a future that is bent on being shared with wolves and preserved by those determined to let the wolf grow and expand unchecked, unmanaged.
You can order your own copy of this book by visiting Wolves in Russia website.