Hug a Wolf

by Robin Forman

You hear the word “wolf” and what comes to mind?

Little Red Riding Hood?

Le Pacte de Loups or The Brotherhood of the Wolf?

Maybe a guy named Blitzer?

Stay those guns, and put that red cape away.

Wolves are widely misunderstood creatures. They have earned a dreadful reputation in fairy tales and they have yet to recover from this.

Last week, the Department of the Interior announced that gray wolves in the Northern Rockies are being removed from the endangered species list. This is good in that this means the wolves have reached a respectable population so they are no longer endangered. Their numbers are somewhere around 1,500 in the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

However, this means that the governments of those states will probably open up wolf hunting again as early as this fall. Bet you the whole hundred dollars wolves drop back down to endangered levels within two years.

Once upon a time, wolves were common throughout the United States, but, like the Native Americans, we rounded them up and killed them. And just like the Native Americans — who, mind you, respect and honor the wolf — we almost killed them all!

Here are a couple of things you should know about the wolf:

First, and most importantly, wolves rarely attack humans. No human was killed by a wolf in the 20th century. This century is clean too.

The few attacks that have occurred are mostly because humans have encroached on wolf territory. Wolves tend to be shy and actually afraid of humans. I mean, wouldn’t you be shy too if all the wolves you knew who met humans didn't survive?

Second, all dogs are descended from wolves. Yes, even you’re tiny squirrel of a Chihuahua. There are some theories that they actually evolved into domesticated dogs in a matter of ten generations because they, somewhere in their genetic mind, knew it was the only way to survive with humans.

Third: Gray wolves mate for life. That makes them better than a whole lot of people I know.

Long ago, I met two wolves in person at the Natural History Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. They walked calmly and curiously around the lecture room as the people doing the presentation explained about the misconceptions about wolves. It profoundly changed my life and sparked a lifelong love of wolves. I know. Now you’re thinking I was one of those people in the tech club who wore a tee-shirt with a wolf portrait on it. Well, buddy, I love wolves. And I was a friggin’ cheerleader.

(The photo is of a Mexican wolf at the zoo in Columbus, Ohio by Sleestak66 of Canal Winchester, OH, via Flickr, using a Creative Commons License.)

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