Wolves. Iconic and undeniably beautiful. They are shown as symbols of strength, danger, and ferocity. At a young age, we are taught to fear wolves through werewolf myths and the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. We see imagery of packs of wolves running through forests with a thirst for human blood. It is so ingrained in our history and society that terrorists are referred to as “packs of wolves,” or if acting alone, “a lone wolf.” These could not be bigger insults to wolves. This is because wolves are terribly misunderstood. The majority of wolves fear humans. Far more wolves are killed by humans than wolves have ever killed humans. In fact, more dogs have killed humans than wolves. Wolves kill for survival. They are so intelligent, that in colder climates, they may kill more prey than they can eat because the food will preserve in the snow. They return in the spring when the meat is thawed out. Wolves are highly skilled hunters and have unparalleled patience to attack at just the right moment. They communicate and work strategically as a team led by the alpha male. It is said that the great warrior and conqueror Genghis Khan learned his military strategies and combat methods from observing wolves. This allowed him to defeat large armies with only a few men.
Wolves are social, loyal, and mate for life. They are very family oriented. When travelling in a pack, the first wolves in line are the old and the sick. They determine the pace of the pack or else they would be left behind. They are followed by a few strong members, the rest of the pack, and a few more strong members. The alpha male is last allowing him to watch over the entire pack. Many First Nations cultures respect, learn from, and revere the wolf. They create totems in its honour. Wolf is one of the most powerful animal spirit guides. Being an essential predator, wolves are integral to the health of ecosystems. They are so integral, that when the near-extinct wolf was re-introduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995, the elk population stabilized and many species rebounded. The wolves even changed the rivers! See how by watching the fascinating short video below.
Wolves are endangered. In B.C., wolves are being blamed and killed for the decline in caribou populations, rather than from habitat destruction. They are also killed when found roaming near irresponsible campers who leave out their garbage. In the U.S., wolves are largely over-hunted because issuing hunting permits brings in big bucks. In 2011, wolves were delisted from endangered status in six states. Consequently, as of April 2016, over 4200 wolves have been slaughtered for sport-hunting alone. Wolves are also largely killed “to protect livestock” – even when they are not near or preying on livestock. The irony is, if you take out a pack member, the pack becomes weaker and increases the likelihood of it preying on livestock. Wolves are gunned down, trapped, snared, and shot from helicopters after being chased to the point of collapsed exhaustion. Entire packs have been wiped out. This killing is federally funded by the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services – what environmentalists call a “secret agency.” In 2015 alone, the USDA’s report showed that Wildlife Services killed a whopping 3.2 million wild animals! And many kills go unreported. These alarming statistics are being called a “wildlife bloodbath.” As part of this, environmental groups state that the wolf-killing program is outdated, “senseless and cruel.” To make matters worse, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pressuring to delist the grey wolf from the endangered species list nationwide. It is feared that this would spell certain doom for wolves.
I’ve recently had the privilege of visiting two beautiful rescue wolves and hearing them howl. It was soul-stirring. And it was a reminder that they are howling to be heard. If you would like to help the survival of these magnificent animals, please “howl” alongside our wolf friends by speaking out and taking action. Together, let’s protect our wolves – now.
You can take action here:
Book: Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong)