Since the start of the wolf hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana, as one might expect, I have received several photos of killed wolves. I seldom post the photos because I have no way to easily verify the authenticity of the information that accompanies the photo, so I just leave it alone.
Even dating back to the first wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana (2009), it seemed the most popular pose for photo taking of one’s trophy wolf, was very similar to that of the photo I’ve provided below.
This is a bit troublesome for the hunters and trappers, I was disappointed to think that I and others haven’t done a good enough job educating the sportsmen on a good and proper way of handling these critters.
Several years ago now, it was discovered through testing, that about 2/3rds of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies were carrying echinococcus granulosus (E.G.) eggs. These eggs get deposited all over the landscape through the feces droppings of infected wolves. The eggs remain viable for long periods of time under some very harsh conditions and can be deadly to humans if ingested.
In addition to finding E.G. eggs in wolf and coyote scat, these eggs can readily be found clinging to the fur of wolves, especially near the anal area of the animal. Or, as all of us are aware, canines do a lot of licking in places most humans wouldn’t care to lick, and as such these eggs could be found around the mouth and head area of the wolves.
When hunters and trappers choose to hold and pose with a dead wolf in the fashion depicted below, they run the risk of coming in contact with these viable eggs.
I sent a copy of the email I received that had the below photograph in it to a few scientists and authorities on wolves and canine diseases. Will Graves, author of “Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages“, responded with: “At a minimum, hunters should handle bagged wolves carefully to reduce risk of picking up E.G.”
Also this morning, Dr. Valerius Geist, professor emeritus of the University of Calgary and well-known authority on animal behavior and has also studied about canine diseases, wrote: “over 50 years ago i was instructed as a budding wildlife biologist at the University of British Columbia to be careful bout wolves, as there was a possibility of contracting hydatid disease from Echinococcus granulosus eggs in the fur of the wolves. It’s the same warning issued officially to trappers in British Columbia. At the very least, wash hands as quickly as possible after handling a wolf and never eat without washing hands first.”
If hunters and trappers find it absolutely necessary to take up this kind of pose, my advice is to then use every precaution to reduce the risk of picking up any eggs on their own clothing and/skin. It poses considerable risk if those eggs are carried on the hunter or trapper back home with them running the possibility that a family member or pet could pick them up.
Please use extreme caution when handling these animals.