preview

Wolves

Powerful Essays
Wolves

The wolf was once a much slandered animal. In the western world, people feared and hated wolves, and this legacy is reflected in stories such as Little Red Riding Hood and The Boy Who Cried Wolf. In these popular children's tales the wolf is made out to be a prowler and a killer of livestock and people. There is some basis for The Boy Who Cried Wolf, for wolves have killed cattle and sheep. But what of Little Red Riding Hood? There are no records of wolves killing humans in Canada or the United States. Yet, when wolves were spotted near rural communities, fear used to grip the populace, but over time this has become less prevalent.

Today, many people know that scientists studying wolves have lived very close to dens where there were pups without being attacked. They have even taken pups from a den without being injured. The parents have usually run away, returning later to take their young to a more private den or to a rendezvous site (a place where the pack meets).

In areas where wolves are hunted or trapped they fear people and are very wary. However, in remote places, such as in the Canadian Arctic, they show little fear and will often allow people to live near them.
Two hundred years ago, Canis lupus, also known as gray wolves, were more widely distributed than any other mammal of historic times. They lived in large areas of North America, Europe, and Asia; the only places they could not occupy were deserts, tropical rain forests, and peaks of the highest mountain ranges. Wolves still live in large areas of the northern hemisphere; however, their primitive range has been greatly reduced due to changes in the landscape and people's efforts to exterminate them. In North America, wolves have been exterminated in the Atlantic provinces, Mexico, the United States (except Minnesota, Alaska, and some of the western states), and the heavily populated areas of southern Canada. They are still common in lightly settled portions of Canada from Labrador to British Columbia and in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

The red wolf was once common in the southeastern United States. It has been eliminated in the wild. However, through a captive breeding program, the species is being reintroduced into its former range.
It is virtually impossible to describe the typical appearance of wolves. Wolves of many large arctic islands and Greenland usually appear sn...

... middle of paper ...

...ibou numbers decline.

Wolves have already been exterminated in many places. However, there may be less danger of such excesses in the future, as wolf control is increasingly based on biology rather than emotion. There is now a greater awareness among people that the killing by wolves of deer and other prey species, which we may want for ourselves, is not a sufficient reason for the extermination of wolves. Sometimes populations of game animals are critically low, so on biological grounds wolf control could be justified; however, control programs are always opposed by ever-increasing urban populations. Proposed wolf culls have become major political issues in many areas in North America. When controls are carried out, they need to be done to meet certain criteria, which are based on sound scientific information and stewardship of wildlife populations.
In the wilderness scheme of things wolves play an important role. And from a human point of view, the great interest and value of having this intelligent animal as part of our wilderness heritage should be sufficient justification for allowing it to survive in a wide variety of wilderness and semi-wilderness areas all over the world.
Get Access