Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wolves versus Dogs (and Humans)

Seems like Alaska is quickly learning that wolves, in fact, don't fear humans as much as some people would like to believe. And, really, if you take 10 seconds to think about it, would dogs ever have been domesticated if they were half afraid of humans as people always say wild animals are?

Wolves become increasingly violent towards humans, pets

A pack of at least seven wolves surrounded the three women and their dogs
as they jogged just on Artillery Road. The lead wolves came within feet,
circling the women as they tried to get away.
"I was rainbowing my pepper spray, and they fell back a little bit. But as soon as we would turn our backs to try to go, they would run up on us, and we would turn around and start screaming again, and I would spray my pepper spray," said Eagle River resident, Camas Barkemeyer.

Here's a tip people, "rainbowing" pepper spray is a waste. You need to get some good strong shots directly to the nose of the animal.

Wildlife experts say wolves are smart animals and that they learn quickly. This means the pack will likely get worse before it gets better.
"If they figure out that dogs are easy to kill, and good food for them, then they can just come to the conclusion that there is a lot more dogs than moose, and 'let's just start eating the dogs for now.' I'm not sure they have quite reached that point,
but they are working on that concept right now," said Rick Sinnott of the Alaska
Department Of Fish and Game.
From another story at the same station: Fish and game officials hopeful wolf attacks will soon stop

The wolves living in the Anchorage Bowl are getting bold and no longer seem to be afraid of humans. . . Wildlife experts say killing certain members of the pack was the only thing that stopped a string of wolf attacks 13 years ago; and it could end up stopping this pack.
"Wolves are instinctively afraid of people, and it gets reinforced sometimes by trappers and hunters," said Sinnott.

I think that "instinctive fear" is a slender shield at best. Just ask that furry creature with sharp fangs and her head in your lap.

And when it comes to maintaining that fear in a wild predator, the only thing that works is the human not being easy prey, e.g. hunting and trapping.

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