Thanks to a reader for a news tip, I have a link to a news story from Germany about the return of wolves to that country after what is said to be 200 years. Incredibly, this story could just as easily have been written in any American newspaper.
Oh, the similarities. Two people who make up what is known as the team of German experts, say Germany now has 40 or fewer wolves and those opposed to the protection of the animal say the real number is closer to 100 than 40.
I laughed though as I read what I have read hundreds of times in American newspapers and magazines.
”If people have no experience of the real animals, all they have is the old stories like little Red Riding Hood,” Reinhardt says. ”Most people don’t hate wolves but when they are told over and over that they are dangerous, of course, they start to believe it.”
Reinhardt is one of the “wolf experts” on the “team of experts”. It’s amazing that history is evidently forgotten, and in this case disregarded as fiction, in Europe as well as in the West. The stories of hundreds and hundreds of people being attacked and killed by wolves in much of Europe and Russia are real, and yet this person, just as they do in the U.S., either remain ignorant to the facts by choice or refuse to learn about them because they care not to know.
Farmers are compensated for attacks on their sheep and so most have accepted the wolves’ return.
I’ll almost guarantee that the farmers being compensated aren’t as eager to accept the return of the wolf and the author of this piece seems convinced they are.
Wolves, like most wild animals, will avoid humans and are only dangerous if they are routinely fed and become habituated.
If we could go back in history a few years, I would like to hear Ms. Reinhardt tell that myth to the families whose children and other loved ones were killed by attacking wolves.
And like here in the U.S. when someone calls to report what they believe is a wolf sighting, they are treated like a complete idiot and ridiculed to the press who anxiously puts it to ink.
”We are always getting calls from people saying, ‘There is a young wolf and it’s very bold, behaving very strangely.’ So we go out with our blowpipes and tranquilisers and 95 per cent of the time, it’s a dog,”
The same people scoffing at the notion that as wolves continue to repopulate the German landscape, it will be only a matter of time before someone, perhaps a child, is attacked and killed, make ignorant statements like this one.
Only nine people in all of Europe have been killed by wolves since World War II and five of those cases involved rabies.
Only nine people? I wonder what it is like to go to bed at night believing that nine people who lost their lives is much worth the sacrifice so a handful of people can have their little pet projects of playing with wolves? How irresponsible is it to hide the truth about this animal, while at the same time telling people things about wolves that are simply not true?
No, we don’t need to panic and demand that all wolves be killed instantly but telling people that the only time a wolf will bother somebody is if they are routinely fed, borders on criminal.
Over the weekend, a woman was attacked and killed by wolves in Georgia, in an area not too far from Tblisi. I also have unconfirmed reports that at least 4 people in Russia have been killed by wolves this past year.
Another great resource on wolf history is Will Graves’ book, “Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages”
If you want to learn more of the history of wolves, the attacks on people and how the people of Europe and Russia dealt with these animals, check out my five-part series, “To Catch a Wolf“.