“Who’s afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?”
“I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.”
“My, Grandma, what big teeth you have…”
“All the better to eat you with…”
We grew up with these tales of wolves. But are wolves really bad-actors?
Humans have always feared the wolf, a large predator. At 100 pounds for a male and slightly less for a female, a wolf is about the size German Shepherd. They are usually a mottled gray in color but can be black, reddish brown and even white. They are pack predators that can and do target domestic herd animals such as goats and sheep. However, since records started being kept in the 1800s there has been no documented case of a healthy wolf attacking a human—any recorded attacks were by a rabid wolf of a wolf-dog hybrid. Wolves are naturally afraid of humans and tend to “disappear” into their surroundings when humans are nearby.
Throughout American history wolves have been feared by the farmer and rancher. Over the years that fear decimated the wolf population in North America, which is slowly returning. In parts of Europe wolves were hunted to extinction.
The wolf is a pack animal; the pack consists of an adult pair and their offspring. It takes a pack to raise the pups. The alpha pair may even “adopt” offspring of other wolves.
They have a wide area for hunting prey, are very territorial and will defend that territory to the death.
Humans have taught the wolf survival skills. During the 1800s when the bison were being exterminated by hunters, wolves learned to listen for the gunshots, wait until the bison was skinned and then they would go in to feed on the carcass. In more modern times when wolves were hunted from the air, they learned to avoid wide-open spaces when there was the sound of an airplane.
Once on the endangered lists, their numbers are growing; however, there continues to be a backlash against these animals. To learn more and to help in the preservation of wolves in the wild, go to:
Inescapably, the realization was being borne in upon my preconditioned mind that the centuries-old and universally accepted human concept of wolf character was a palpable lie… From this hour onward, I would go open-minded into the lupine world and learn to see and know the wolves, not for what they were supposed to be, but for what they actually were.
-Farley Mowat, Never Cry Wolf