I fell in love with wolves after reading Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat ten years ago. Their grace, playfulness, loyalty, keen sense of hearing and smell, and beauty made my heart bow low in respect. They were animals to admire. As the Conservation Manager at the Oakland Zoo, I had the opportunity to investigate my wolf interests by asking the California Wolf Center to present earlier this year at our Conservation Speaker Series
On a wolf roll, I am excited to host yet another canine event: Living with Wolves, on April 29th. This evening will feature a screening of the film Return to the Wild: A Modern Tale of Wolf and Man and a talk by the films’ producers. We will also welcome Never Cry Wolf Rescue & Adoption and a few of their canine ambassadors.
The film Return to the Wild looks at the human-wildlife conflict that is felt all over the world with various humans, animals and habitats. We all want a place to live, to be safe, to find food and to raise a family. When settlers came to this country, they decided that there wasn’t room for both the wolf and the new American. As they ‘settled the wilderness” and fear overtook ecological knowledge, most wolves were killed by the 1930s, by extreme and unnessesary brutality. Myths were created to keep the name of the wolf dark and dangerous in the human psyche. The continent dwindled from a healthy and balanced abundance of wolves to just over 500 animals. Living with wolves is something our country struggles with still.
In 1995, the Grey Wolf was reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and the wolves made a comeback. Tens of thousands of tourists are thrilled with the wolves and come to the park in packs with giant cameras, hoping for a peek at the majesty a real wolf. Some, of course, are less thank thrilled with the wolves and their hunting choices, and have faced loss of livestock and livelihood.
Fear-based solutions to the conflicts have been formulated, such as in 2007 when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin offered a $150 bounty for wolves, asking hunters to present a wolf’s foreleg to collect the money. The latest science has proven that hunting has is an inefficient means to control population, unable to mimic the complex web of life created by nature. Better solutions must exist.
Others dedicated fans of the wolf are ecologists, calling wolves the Bioengineers of the Wild. Wolves keep the ecosystem in balance, as many keystone species do. As wolves returned to the park and created balance in elk populations, Aspens and Willows returned. So did songbirds, stream beads and beavers. The eco-systems began to function and thrive.
Return to the Wild takes a fair look at the re-introduction of the gray wolf and the various stakeholders involved. Wildlife experts, hunters and ranchers all get a turn at speaking their mind. The film’s hope is that a balanced, fair and soundly sustainable solution does indeed exist. That is something to bow to.
You can help wolves by going to:www.savewolves.org/act