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12/21/07 Letter of response from Gail Hildreth to Hannah
Thank you for your letter. One of the things we enjoy about living in the United States is the right to freedom of speech. Of course that right provides all of us the opportunity to write about both sides of an issue. There is another side regarding your feelings about wolves, and that is the correct understanding of wolves and animals in general.
“Anthropomorphizing” is a term that is used when people attribute to animals human thoughts and actions.
You have chosen to anthropomorphize the wolf , just like in Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf cannot think in human terms, no matter how much you want him to.
A wolf does not have the ability to rationalize like a human; his brain is not complex or evolved enough to do so. A wolf’s brain operates according to his stomach and his innate instincts. His brain is triggered to chase animals that move. Have you ever watched a dog run after something that is running away (even in play)? The wolf’s eyes see movement and they are drawn to that movement and then the wolf’s brain analyzes if that movement is coming from something to eat or chase, like a cow or sheep or a single human being.
Wolves also chase animals, just like dogs. Does your dog chase you when you run, does he pull on your coat or pants leg when he catches you? Sometimes does he get a little strong with his teeth and actually bite you when he’s excited? The wolf is the same way, he lives with his pack and chases animals that move. But when he catches them he bites them hard and tears them apart, because that’s his INSTINCT to do so. So often times he additionally kills because his brain is programmed that way and excessive animals die. I have some photos of dozens of elk killed all at once in Wyoming by a pack of wolves. The animals were not eaten because the wolves weren’t hungry, they just instinctually killed everything that moved. They weren’t mad at the elk; it was pure instinct
Wolves evolved late in geologic history. They are one of the largest land mammals so have few natural predators (grizzly bears). They are not a particularly old species, like the dinosaurs for example. You do remember the dinosaurs, don’t you? They arose and declined and became extinct long before man inhabited the earth. Extinction is a natural process. More species lived, evolved to complexity and became extinct than there are presently on earth , and all of this happened BEFORE man ever rose to dominance. How do I know these things? I went to college for many years, earned multiple degrees and studied with the best paleontologists living in the world. World renowned men who had spent their lives studying the exact issues you write about.
I hope you will continue on with school, learn to examine all aspects of an issue, and learn how to spell (or at the very least learn to use “spellcheck” on your computer, if you won’t learn to spell from memory). At 12, you should know how to spell simple words better than you do, if you ever want to be taken seriously. I am not being mean, simply stating facts. You need to apply yourself better and get a correct understanding of paleontology. I have a nephew your age, who knows every single line of dinosaurs and how to spell their names correctly. He understands their anatomy and purported causation of behaviors. He reads voraciously and commits facts to memory.
I hope you have a very Merry Christmas .
Make a New Year’s resolution to work harder in school and question things that are presented to you by your teachers, if this is where you are learning what you have written. What you have written is neither correct scientifically nor correct behaviorally about the wolf. It is called “fiction”.
Signed: Gail Hildreth, A paleontologist
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