ESPN just published a very interesting article on Will Graves research on wolves in Russia. For those of you who remember the old Movie Never Cry Wolf, this article is a must read. http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/general/columns/story?columnist=swan_james&id=3113247
A few quotes from the article:
In the heat of media frenzy about the environment, one must always remember to think critically and be on alert for romanticism, exaggeration and what Teddy Roosevelt called “nature fakers.”
In the U.S., we have been led to believe that wolves are not dangerous to people. In books and movies like Farley Mowat’s “Never Cry Wolf”, Michael Blake’s “Dances With Wolves,” and Barry Lopez’s “Of Wolves and Men”, wolves are “nature’s sanitarians” who prefer eating lemmings more than larger mammals. They are presented as secretive, adverse to attacking humans and may even friendly to people, like dogs…
…A pack of 3-5 wolves will kill an average of two reindeer or caribou every three days. They can eat 6-7 pounds of meat per day; over 10 pounds if they have not eaten for awhile. That translates into 1.5 tons of meat per wolf per year.
Contrary to some authors, Graves asserts that Russian wolves prefer healthy prey, not sick or diseased animals. They seem to enjoy indulging in “surplus killing,” running havoc through herbs of animals, or even through villages, killing more than they can eat and leaving the surplus carcasses for scavengers…
…There are many, many accounts of wolves attacking people in Russia. As many as 80% of the attacks are by rabid wolves, but at least 20% are perfectly healthy wolves. The worst attacks on humans tend to come from wolf-dog hybrids, as well as wolves that have lost all fear of people.
…A healthy, athletic man may beat off an attack by one wolf, but he will always lose to a pack, unless he is well-armed. One reason why we have not had as many wolf attacks on people in North America is that the populace is armed.
Wolves in North America are not supposed to attack people, but the reality of fatal wolf attacks in North America became real on November 8, 2005: 22-year-old Kenton Carnegie, while walking through the woods of Saskatchewan, was killed by a pack of four wolves that had become habituated to a garbage dump…
James Swan’s entire article is well worth a read http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/general/columns/story?columnist=swan_james&id=3113247