Reid sent LAT article on wolves returning to Germany which seems to indicate that wolves are as polarizing there as here.
“..Joachim Bachmann, a hunter with a wall full of trophies, is not so lyrical when it comes to the wolf’s reappearance amid the birch and pine of the eastern woods in Saxony.
“In today’s Germany, the wolf is a “protected species.” Mention these two words and you’d better duck, because Bachmann can’t quite get his mind around how a sheep-eating machine should not be shot on sight. It bothers him even when he sits at the big table in his big house looking out the window to a damp land speckled with paw prints.
” “What positive thing does a wolf bring to nature? Nothing,” he says, cutting his schnitzel and salted potatoes.
“There is something else out beyond the winter grass that perturbs him too. Down the road, past a church and through a forest so dense it seems like walking through the bristles on a hairbrush, a woman Bachmann describes as a misguided Little Red Riding Hood charts the personalities and nocturnal habits of wolf packs.
“Gesa Kluth’s boots are muddy and her maps are worn; to Bachmann, the biologist is an infuriatingly dedicated state-funded wolf lover.”
Sounds distressingly like home!
Somewhere at the root of all the controversy is some sort of failure to see the wolf as an animal, a splendid predator of no human virtue or vice, rather than as a symbol of either the evil outside of human control or of a vanished innocence.
Allegedly the old Canadian trapper who caught some of the wolves for reintroduction to Yellowstone said of wolves that “the ranchers think they live on cows and the environmentalists think they live on mice. They’re both full of shit.”
I DO feel that despite the wolves’ North American rep for never having harmed anyone (recently refuted by the killing of a geologist in Canada– I have asked Valerius Geist for details) that sooner or later human- habituated wolves are going to eat someone or, worse, somebody’s kid. Big predators DO; it doesn’t prove them evil, just to be dangerous animals worthy of respect and caution.
I had an exchange with Matt over this and he suggested I add it here.
“Wolves eat children in India all the time, and have been implicated in attacks on humans in Russia. They ate humans in Europe probably into the 1700’s.
“LOTS of lions eat people all over Africa every year, even in parts of South Africa. It is not emphasized by most governments.
“Crocs eat some and hippos kill more but don’t eat ’em.
“In Zimbabwe everybody had tales. Lions at the gate after dark scared the crap out of me once (I was in an open car). And not too far from there I got out of the car to pee on a dirt track near Hwange Park we were using for a short cut ( don’t know WHY I did in retrospect– we had already flushed a Cape buffalo and had to wait for a feeding elephant to depart and detour around the tree it had dropped). Mrs. Muza, the gov’t aide, didn’t want me to get out– she said a “European” had had a car break down near there not long ago and was walking out when he was eaten.
“Tigers are no longer doing well enough in India to be a threat, though, except in the Sunderbans where all the tigers eat people and there are still rather a lot.
“Siberians seem rather uninclined to prey on folks– don’t know why. The natives call him a “gentleman” there.”