Timothy Treadwell: [petting a fox] You can see the bond that has developed between this very wild animal, and this very, fairly, wild person.
- “Grizzly Man“
A furious debate between the memories of the past and the beliefs of the present revolves around wolves. It’s not hard to find accounts of people being eaten alive by the wild animals from the pre-Industrial era but, once they were no longer living near populated areas, these accounts dramatically reduce in frequency. There is even a theory that over the years they have learned not to f–k with us. In other words, some people think we live in a world so dominated by humans wild animals are being domesticated by proxy.
Those on the side which maintaining the animals are just misunderstood can celebrate the news that this endangered species appears to have returned to the outskirts of Berlin. From The Independent:
Naturalists in Berlin have sighted a pack of wolves and their cubs just 15 miles south of the German capital for the first time in more than 100 years.
The German office of the World Wildlife Fund said yesterday that farmers had alerted its field workers to the existence a wolf pack which appeared to have moved into a deserted former Soviet army military exercise area near the village of Sperenberg south of Berlin.
Janosch Arnold, a WWF wolf expert, told Berlin’s Die Tageszeitung that naturalists equipped with infra-red night vision cameras had filmed the animals in the area overnight.
“There is definitely a wolf pack with cubs and they seem to be on top of the world,” he said.
Germany’s “last wolf” was reputed to have been shot and killed by hunters in 1904. In 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the animals were declared a protected species and the population began to grow again. Wolves were sighted in remote areas of eastern Germany after they entered from neighbouring Poland.
The discovery of wolves living and apparently breeding so close to a large urban conurbation like Berlin is the first since German reunification in 1990.
Mr Arnold said fear of wolves was unjustified as the animals were reclusive and shy of humans.
Meanwhile campaigners continue to try to push the UK’s Government into accepting the re-introduction of Wolves to Scotland, where they were entirely wiped out by humans around the late 1600’s. From The Wolves and Humans Foundation:
Reintroducing the wolf to the Scottish Highlands was first proposed in the late 1960s, [...]
Although the British government is required to consider the reintroduction of native species under article 22 of the EU Habitats and Species Directive of 1992, any proposal for reintroduction to Scotland would have to be approved by Scottish Natural Heritage, the government organisation responsible for wildlife and habitats in Scotland, and their position remains that they have no plans to consider reintroduction of wolves.
This is not going to change until something persuades them that reintroduction would not be a controversial issue and would be widely welcomed by the whole spectrum of land users and interests in Scotland. There are however pointers for the future; agriculture in Scotland, particularly sheep farming, which has always been one of the major stumbling blocks [...]
Initially the death of Scotland’s final wolf was seen as cause for celebration. It appears the people of the time had yet to be told by enviromentalists that wolves were ‘reclusive and shy of humans’. There was even a special stone carved to comemorate the name of the man who killed the last one, he appears to have been seen at the time as a hero. Fortunately for the conservationist side of the debate the BBC makes it clear how “sad” his apparent victory was:
A carved stone by the side of the A9 near Brora claims to mark the site where the last wolf in Sutherland was killed by a man called Polson in 1700.
The unremarkable grey marker reflects the sad demise of the wild animal in Scotland.
Disinfo welcomes your thoughts in the comments section. This is an ongoing debate and finding reliable sources has been tricky for your correspondent. It’d be particularly useful if you or a member of your friends or family have in fact been savaged by a wild wolf. The best case scenario would be if someone died in the attack. That would ‘kill the debate’ for me, if you’ll excuse the pun.
A scholarly document produced by ‘Norsk institutt for naturforskning’ on behalf of the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe.
From page 16:
Predatory attacks appear to usually involve single wolves or single packs, that learn to exploit humans as prey. In these cases the victims are usually directly attacked around the neck and face in a sustained manner. The bodies are often dragged away and consumed unless the wolves are disturbed. Although single incidents have occured these predatory attacks tend to cluster in space and time, and continue until the wolf is killed.
 The above document appears to be the original source for this theory. I think a similar process of evolution has driven pigeons in the opposite direction. Don’t believe me? Go to London and observe the well meaning mothers who stop their little children from chasing them. Then notice the brazen attitude of these birds and ask yourself, was it ever thus? In my opinion you should let your kids chase pigeons; it teaches them both a form of respect!