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12/19/07 - Letter to KBC about wolves from Hannah, UK.
Thank you for your well thought out letter about wolves and their relationship with humans. The best thing about being 12 is that there is a lot of time left in your life to learn and listen and I hope that you will view this as an opportunity to be open minded and hear some of the facts, and pay close attention to experiences about wolves that others have had.
First I want to say that it is OK to love animals if we expect to be anything as a human society we must have empathy for other creatures. But that same empathy must first and foremost be applied to mankind and animals must be able to fit into human existence, it is our responsibility to care for animals and to manage them in such a way that they benefit from our presence just as we should from theirs. It disturbs me that you seem to believe that humans are not a natural part of the ecosystem and environment. Whether you believe humans were given the earth as a gift from God and created in Godís image, or you believe they evolved from lower life forms, humans are still part of the life cycle of all living elements in this world. Every living thing has a role to fill on this earth including humans. We are not just some alien occupying and destroying the landscape as so often appears to be the modern belief. Many species other than humans must manipulate their surroundings to create habitat for themselves. Humans are just so intelligent that sometimes they go a bit too far.
As someone who has lived with wolf presence for over nine years now, I have to profess a profound respect for this animal just as I do for bears and mountain lions. They are magnificent and awesome creatures. That also gives them the capability to create conflicts in the lives of human beings. It has been scientifically proven that when wolves begin to move towards human beings and their habitat, whether it be homes, towns, or even wilderness campsites, it is because there is something wrong with the pack. Whether it be a decrease in natural food source or a disease or weather issues, obviously something has stressed the animal.
What you absolutely must understand and I hope that you will be able to learn this as you move forward in your life and career choices is that animals must be studied on the basis of instinct and behaviors. You state in your letter that wolves get angry. I submit to you that they are not mentally similar to what you are most familiar with, the mechanisms of the human mind, therefore they do not get angry nor happy nor sad. When an animal is stressed, it does not reason as a human will, it only understands the stress, and it reacts to that stress through behavioral instinct although to a person who anthromorphosis the animal, it may appear sad or mad or happy. (By the way that means inflicts human characteristics where none exist, donít worry we all do it if we love and reflect our feelings onto our pets.) When an animal is doing well and in good condition it only understands that it feels well and reacts to that feeling by breeding and raising pups or playing this does not indicate happiness although one could assume that if it could be happy like a human this would be the time.
When wolves come into villages as is happening in Alaska right now, they are looking for food and at this point are eating dogs in backyards. Or in one case an entire pack had contracted rabies. Rabies is a disease of the central nervous system brought on by a virus that is spread through saliva and bites. The Alaska case is due to disease not lack of food. None of these instances have anything to do with the wolves reasoning ability or its feelings about mankind. They are stressed and acting on behavioral instincts. They do not think these things through and they will not think twice about attacking something that isnít well defended.
Even such stress is due to lack of food, that is likely caused by something other than human perhaps, a weather alteration or aberration has occurred such as drought or blizzard, and prey species have instinctively moved looking for better grazing lands. Because wolves are territorial they may not have naturally followed the migration of their normal prey. They may simply expect that the prey will be there and when they begin to be hungry and stressed they look for the nearest and most convenient thing they associate with food and in this case, it has become dogs in a community.
The current Alaska cases are just a small example. There are numerous cases of wolves doing these types of things. During World War II in Russia, wolves impacted villages on a regular basis, perhaps it began due to harsh weather and blizzard type conditions. But it was well documented that most attacks on humans occurred when men were off to war, and no one in the communities were armed and able to defend themselves. Women children older people and most dogs and livestock were killed. In one case, a military recognizance flight saw a village virtually under siege with huge numbers of wolves streaming in and out of it. So they sent an army platoon in and killed as many wolves as they could to rescue the village by the time they got there, someone in every household had been killed. This isnít the fault of the Russian peasants, they lived in those villages for centuries and were part of their environment. Also relevant in your argument you say wolves were part of the earth for millions of years well that isnít the case, man has also been part of the earth and since both are mammals likely they evolved around the same time, that is if you believe in evolution rather than creationism. If you believe in creationism, then you also believe that man has authority over all living creatures and that they are a gift to him from God and that means he would have authority to manage them.
Hannah, wolves are not in danger of extinction. They are protected under the Endangered Species Act not because of near extinction, but because they no longer exist in their former environment. Not because they are disappearing from the earth. The ESA law was written to restore them to former ranges even if they are not actually in danger of extinction. There are hundreds of thousands of wolves in Alaska and other parts of the world as well as reintroduced populations in the upper Midwest and Montana Idaho and Wyoming and the Southwest as well. They are not in danger of extinction, only not everywhere they once were. This has allowed people to begin recovery efforts in places where wolf habitat may no longer exist. In turn this creates strife as wolves and man directly compete for resources and that always leads to the death of wolves. Does this mean that humans who were in the areas prior to the recovery efforts should be packed up and moved out? That is hardly an American notion is it?
I hope that you will use this letter to make some more in depth inquiries and learn more about wolves as well as their habitats and surroundings. It has been an honor to address your letter, I have kids around your age and they understand wolves in a way very different than you have been taught. Needless to say they are somewhat surprised by your letter and what you have been taught about this very real animal. I hope that you will have every unbiased opportunity to learn more about wolves.
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