June 17, 2019

Historically Wolves Have Killed Man on Regular Basis

VargensEuropaDespite historic documents that show to the contrary, all too often defenders of large predators, particularly the wolf, go out of their way to deny facts in order that their prized wild dog goes without blame for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

There are even knee-jerk responses from wolf lovers to somehow justify the killing of a person by a wolf because the wolf may have had rabies or some other disease, dishonestly causing people to think this event somehow disqualifies the wolf as a killer. Perhaps it is the same demented notion people have about insanity, that it presents a justifiable cause to kill.

Regardless of how anyone chooses to look at killing, whether a wolf is healthy or sick, under the right circumstances, they will kill and kill repeatedly. This fact does not justify the wanton destruction of wolves, or other large predators. It does, however, call for responsible management and control. As much as some people loathe that man exists and thus interferes with their precious wolves, the same historic documents readily show that wolves, forced into man-settled landscapes, is a formula for disaster – for both man and wolf.

Recently I was reading the “Abstract” of a study about, “Predators that Kill Humans: Myth, Reality, Context and the Politics of Wolf Attacks on People,” John D.C. Linnell, Julien Alleau. The Abstract reads as follows:

Seventeen species of large mammalian carnivore have been documented to kill people, although of these only five or six seem to do it on a regular basis. Predatory attacks on humans are generally rare, which combined with very variable and inconsistent reporting makes it hard to identify the mechanisms and patterns explaining spatial and temporal variation in attacks. In contrast to other species, the extent of wolf attacks on people has been subject to intense controversy in recent decades. Competing myths have been advanced by advocates and opponents of wolves, and the issue has become politically intertwined with a diversity of social conflicts associated with the changing nature of rural life and wildlife conservation in general. Examination of both the historical record and recent reports provides a massive body of evidence that wolves have been involved in many cases of attacks on humans. Although many of these cases are linked with rabid wolves, there is also plenty of evidence of recurring cases of predatory attacks. Because these have been associated with a special set of environmental circumstances (absence of wild prey, heavily modified landscapes, high density of humans engaged in vulnerable activities) that are no longer present in most areas the risks of wolf attacks are currently very low in most of wolf distribution. An emerging situation in North America and Europe concerns the appearance of fearless and habituated wolves, which requires careful study to develop appropriate threat assessments, mitigation measures and reaction responses.

The key elements here to pay attention to are “historical records,” “recurring cases of …attacks,” and “a special set of environmental circumstances.” Denying any and all of these serves no purpose other than to influence public opinion that might run contrary to the agendas of those intent of having large predators in everyone’s back yard.

While it is one thing to deny historic documentation, working feverishly to enhance the “special set of environmental circumstances” will accelerate the onset of human/wolf attacks. It would be of an extremely perverse intention that anybody would want for killing of humans by wolves. But, we do live in extremely perverse times.

In Will Graves book, “Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages,” his travels and research to Russia provided clear documentation of the hundreds of thousands of attacks on man and property throughout Russian history.

Chapter 6 of Grave’s book reveals what seems an unending documentation of wolf attacks on humans. It becomes clear as you read the accounts that the number of attacks on humans is directly proportional to the wolf population. There are, of course, other environmental circumstances that influence this event. None of these circumstances should be ignored or denied.

Chapter 3 of “The Real Wolf,” co-author Ted B. Lyon writes:

“Save the Wolf” dogma indicates that wolves are not dangerous to humans, despite centuries of historical evidence to the contrary. This willingness to ignore historical records accompanies a propensity to rewrite the wolf’s history and habits, leaving people unprepared.

Centuries of historical evidence clearly and specifically recounts fatal wolf attacks. Wolves hunt in packs, thereby making them very dangerous to the relatively defenseless human. Unless wolves are routinely hunted, trapped, or shot at, they do not recognize or fear humans as the dominant species and instead view them as potential prey. Wolves are dangerous predators and should be viewed as such.

Once again, we are told not to ignore or deny historical evidence. Even if wolf attacks on humans are a “rare” event (this is a value-based adjective), educating oneself to the facts of wolf habits and those environmental circumstances that drive a wolf to want to attack and kill man, might, one day, save a life and that of a wolf.

In my own book, “Wolf: What’s to Misunderstand?,” beginning around page 18, I spend several pages dealing with wolf history, including world wide events of wolf attacks on humans. These attacks were a regular event and people had to learn how to deal with it or die. Often wolf advocates ridicule any occasion that might involve human fear of wild wolves. It is quite unfortunate because it sets an improper stage of learning how to deal with these animals. It’s easy to sit back and snicker, when you have never had to deal with an attacking wolf. Why is history so much denied?”

Throughout the First Chapter of, Wolf: What’s to Misunderstand?, I shared parts of documents from written accounts of wolves and human encounters from many parts of the world. These accounts are fascinating and full of information all of us can learn from. But will we?

The other day, I received a document that comes from Page 130 of Kaj Granlund’s book, “Vargens Europa.” This book (no English translated version available yet) documents the wolf and its history – how wolves for thousands of years have terrorized the world’s rural populations.

Please find a pdf of Page 130 here.

This document shows nearly 180 confirmed human deaths, caused by wolves, in Finland from 1710 – 1881. What is also remarkable in this document is how it shows that once wolves attack and kill one person, it is followed by more attacks. The author told me, “It is obvious from the table that when a wolf (pack) discovers humans as potential prey, it turns focus on humans instead of traditional pray.”

It is also important to point out some of the “environmental circumstances” surrounding this table. From the “Abstract” above, we are told that within each region where wolves exist, circumstances drive the habits of wolves. Readers of this website should, by now, have a pretty good understanding about how to recognize many of those circumstances by reading Dr. Valerius Geist’s, “When Do Wolves Become Dangerous to Humans?

Author Granlund writes in an email to me, “You have to know a bit about our history to understand variations. In fact the only thing we know is that these people were killed by wolves. We don’t know how many others were killed as the resident registration was kept by the local vicars. The vicars only registered important events as marriages, births and deaths. Births were registered on the parent’s, not on the born child.

If the body was found the vicar wrote in his diary name, date when killed, age and COD. If someone simply disappears in the forest nothing was written in the books. They knew the different diseases. If someone was attached by rabid wolves and he/she was infected then the COD would have been “wolf + rabies”. If a rabid wolf simply kills its victim and escapes, the COD would probably be “killed by wolf”.

There are some events in our history that needs some attention. During the Great Northern War (1700 – 1721) many events were never recognized because whole families disappeared from their homes without notice. Some were simply killed, others taken as slaves and brought to Russia.

After 1809 Finland was ruled by the Russian emperor (tsar). The welfare began to rise and the statistics were more accurate. Several events affected human-wolf relationship during 1860’s and after. Without digging too deep into history, one law that came into force was the dog licence fee (read tax). There was an annual fee on each dog which rapidly reduced the number of guarding dogs thus making it easier for wolves to roam without notice in inhabited areas.

The wolves were practically exterminated by Russian wolf hunters in the 1880’s and the wolf attacks came to an end.

As I have said, it is easy to lay claim that wolves don’t attack people, when one’s sphere of reality is limited to local surroundings and never having to encounter of deal with wolves. With self-imposed limitations of wolf history, how can anyone be expected to responsibly deal with the reality of wolves?

At the most elemental level of understanding, if wolf populations continue to rise in the United States and spread throughout greater geographical regions, it only stands to reason that the envelope of certain attacks will also increase.

Use some logical understanding and reason. We know that in places where many wolves roam and few people live, accounts of wolf attacks is quite rare. What then happens if many wolves are forced into man-inhabited areas?

If one was to honestly evaluate all the possible environmental circumstances that can and will drive a wolf, or any large predator, including an increase in numbers of wolves and numbers of humans, it makes little sense to deliberately increase the chances that someone is going to get killed.

Stop ignoring history. Examine the evidence. Understand the variables that changes habits of wolves and large predators. Let people live in peace.

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