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Author Topic: Wolves never attack humans...as much as they'd like to
megaira
The Red and the Green Stamps


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This is a great study, and no, it doesn't rave that there are tons of predatory attacks on humans, the person came up with 3 out of 80 cases in modern years.

It's a pdf file, just fyi.

I'd debate more and dance circles with you, but we're basically not on opposing sides, necessarily and I'm short on time. LOL

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Barns & No Bull
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Thanks. That study basically concludes with what we agreed upon - that human predation by wolves is insignificant (at least in Alaska which is the data set of the study). It's a different story with black bears and cougars.

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Terrified, mortified, petrified, stupefied... by you!

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megaira
The Red and the Green Stamps


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To quote you:
quote:
They are natural predators of humans because they will regard humans as prey and kill and eat them. How often they do this is entirely inconsequential to that fact.
Insignificant to the general population, yes, as is also predation by black bears, and for nearly everyone but Californians [Wink] , mountian lions.

However, according to what you said ^, it is significant enough to show that wolves are "natural predators" of humans.

I'm not argueing that the other two are not "natural predators" at this point, just pointing out it is illogical to say one is, while the other isn't, if, as you say, frequency is "entirely inconsequential to that fact."

I like wolves, but I'm not about to diefy them as moral predators, either.

Populations:

There are less than 70,000 wolves in North America today, and only about 15,000 of those are in the United States and that includes the 8,000 or so in Alaska.
Their territory in both the US and Canada has been strictly remote wilderness (or conservation land). Chances of a random human encounter with a wild wolf are slim to none at this point.

They're intelligent, and have a pack mentality -it has been demonstrated that one pack member may learn something and teach it to the rest of the pack. It is not farfetched at all to believe that the reason there have been "insignificant" issues with wolves considering humans as prey is because a. there aren't many to begin with and b. they have learned humans are their predators and instinctively avoid us. For a very adapatable species, that's quite logical. However, that could certianly change over time with desensitization, as it has with mountian lions.

Black Bear population in North America is estimated at nearly 700,000. Their territory extends into densely populated areas. Their exposure to humans is much greater than wolves at this time, and they're often, unfoturtunately, fed by humans, much less they have all learned that humans provide garbage, which in turn provides food. They have not only had plenty of opportunity to desensitize to humans, but have also seemingly (well, to their perspective) benefited from this.

It stands to reason that human/black bear encounters would be much, much higher than both mountian lion and wolves combined. Out of god knows how many encounters (and I've run into them frequently myself with no ill results) with humans in North America, less than 36 of those have resulted in death, and roughly 27 of those were predatorial attacks. Given the sheer number of bears, their close proximity of habitation to humans and the way we enable that relationship with foolish ignorance, that's pretty darned impressive.


Mountian Lions -
According to Arizona Game and Fish there were 10 fatal cases of mountian lion attacks in all of north america between 1890 and 1990, then between 1990 and 2004, 10 more.

Mountian lions are now at a number of roughly 50,000... an estimated 6000 of those are in California alone.

Obviously in the last decade, numbers of attacks and fatalities have skyrocketed, and the theory is: we're more active in their territory (particuliarily in california) and like bears, they are becoming more and more desensitized to humans.

We again enable this (and again, it's often the people who are so vocal about wanting to "save" them that endanger them with ignorant behavior) by building homes in their territory, encouraging deer and wildlife to hang out in the yard and not doing anything to scare of ML's when they do appear (there are pictures down at the park that someone took of a ML in the hedge. so "cute"). We used to shoot at them and, they knew it was a good idea to steer clear. Now, that's a non issue for them... we only shoot when they attack, rather than to scare them off as well...which is fine, or would be, if people stopped other behaviors which ulimately encouraged the lions to hang around closer to human habitation...or jogging/biking through their territory at dusk and dawn when they're still active.


If you want to ping numbers back and forth, that's fine (well, you'll "win" the debate and I will die of boredom. [Wink] ), but I think you're ignoring the context factor in the process. Wolves are carnivores - in some instances they may view us as oddly shaped fellow carnivores and share their turf, but it would be exceedingly foolish to rely on that and assume that because Farley Mowatt and a couple others have danced around the tundra with arctic wolves, and that because they are intelligent and we can often communicate with them, that there is no risk there and no chance that it will *become* significant.

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Barns & No Bull
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by megaira:
To quote you:

quote:
They are natural predators of humans because they will regard humans as prey and kill and eat them. How often they do this is entirely inconsequential to that fact.
Insignificant to the general population, yes, as is also predation by black bears, and for nearly everyone but Californians [Wink] , mountian lions.

However, according to what you said ^, it is significant enough to show that wolves are "natural predators" of humans.

I'm not argueing that the other two are not "natural predators" at this point, just pointing out it is illogical to say one is, while the other isn't, if, as you say, frequency is "entirely inconsequential to that fact."

Yeah, and I also said this about wolves being natural predators of humans...

quote:
In the strictest sense this may be true.
I don't relish the idea of making illogical or contradictory statements, but I may have.

It would be wrong to say that wolves have not treated humans as prey in modern times. It would also be wrong not to explain the situation. In Alaska, 3 out of 80 wolf attacks appear to have been predatory attacks. All three were small children. Predation by wolves on humans might increase if wolves had more access to small children.

So, I maintain that frequency is inconsequential to declaring that an animal will prey on humans. But the frequency is very consequential in how one describes the behavior of the animal and how to deal with encounters (or potential encounters) with the animal.

I have no arguments with the statistics you cited concerning populations of these animals in the context of human interactions (lots of carnivore encounters and few attacks). But those general statistics become meaningless when a cougar is stalking you with the intent of eating you. There is a categorical difference between large carnivores that don't want you around them or their babies and those that want to eat you.

Encounters with cougars and black bears are not significant to the general population, but they are potentially very significant to those who do encounter them because the record shows that many are treating humans as prey.

There are important differences in how to best defend yourself in a predatory attack vs. an aggressive attack. A society that rejects the fact that these animals will prey upon humans might cheat themselves out of life-saving tactics when a predatory attack occurs.

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Barns & No Bull
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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As crazy as it may sound, if predatory attacks are on the increase some Americans may want to adopt a tactic that the Indians have used to ward off tiger attacks.

A rear-facing mask seems to deter attacks because the tiger cannot pounce on you 'from behind'.

New tangent: Is the effectiveness of this mask real or an Indian Urban Legend?

 -

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Morrigan
Happy Holly Days


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I believe it's effective, from as much as I've read.

Morrigan

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"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep." Robert Frost, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

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megaira
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:


A rear-facing mask seems to deter attacks because the tiger cannot pounce on you 'from behind'.

I wonder if one of those would work on my inlaws?
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Barbara
Layaway in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by megaira:
quote:


A rear-facing mask seems to deter attacks because the tiger cannot pounce on you 'from behind'.

I wonder if one of those would work on my inlaws?
Nope. But a tiger would.

Barbara "and thanks to your backwards-facing mask, it wouldn't subsequently work on you" Mikkelson

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tagurit
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Morrigan:
quote:
Originally posted by fictional lie:
The closest animal genetically to a full blooded wolf is obviously the dog (the poodle, actually, if you can believe it).

Cite?

Untrue, by the sources i found.

Such as this one (http://www.inetdesign.com/wolfdunn/breeds/) which lists several breeds that are more closely related to the wolf than any others. Breeds such as Czechoslovakian Wolfdog (a recognized breed), the Saarloos Wolfhonds, and several others.

That site seems to be targeting dogs that are closest in appearance to wolves and/or including contemporary wolf hybrids in the mix. I wonder if a dog has to look more like wolf to be more closely related. Without all that frou frou hair, what does a poodle really look like? [lol] Though, for my money, I'd pick one of the ancient breeds of domestic dog, such as the norwegian elkhound, etc. To me, alaskan malamutes look most wolfie.

So, what is it? Appearance or genetics?

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Cervus
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Without all that frou frou hair, what does a poodle really look like?
"Natural" poodles are covered in short, tightly curled hair, much like a curly-coated retriever. Standard poodles are in the same group as Portuguese Water Dogs in the sense that they were bred to be water retrievers; their coats are tightly culed and oily to help them dry quickly.

There are several sites depicting a possible "evolution" of dog breeds; I'll try to find one for you.

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Won't somebody please think of the adults!

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megaira
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Barbara:
Nope. But a tiger would.

[Big Grin]
It might, but I bet I'd be paying out the nose for the favor.

quote:
Barbara "and thanks to your backwards-facing mask, it wouldn't subsequently work on you" Mikkelson
We can count on it having a heavy case of indigestion for days afterwards.
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Joseph Z
Xboxing Day


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Aren't we a little off topic? Lets add a total bottom line.

Wolves only attack when provoked or hunted pray. Quite simply, if one approaches you, get a gun and shoot in the air to scare them off. Or shoot them dead. They will avoid you if they already haven't.

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Joseph Z

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megaira
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Aren't we a little off topic? Lets add a total bottom line.
Oh, sorry Charon. Kids! Get back in the boat!

quote:
Quite simply, if one approaches you, get a gun and shoot in the air to scare them off.
I'll just smack the pause button and step out for a gun. And when that bullet comes whizzing back down, I won't have to worry about wolves anymore.

quote:

Or shoot them dead.

What if I just shoot them wounded?

quote:
They will avoid you if they already haven't.
If they're dead, this is a nonissue.


While I think it was removed from the endangered species in '03, I'd probably be better off being eaten than dealing with the aftermath of shooting one.

I propose "wolf strips" - giant strips of deer flavored tape you can string around your property. [Smile]

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Barns & No Bull
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Joseph Z:
Lets add a total bottom line. Wolves only attack when provoked or hunted pray.

...and the Alaskan study shows that this is untrue. A better bottom line is that your advice is bogus.

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Horse Chestnut
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Barns & No Bull:
A rear-facing mask seems to deter attacks because the tiger cannot pounce on you 'from behind'.

New tangent: Is the effectiveness of this mask real or an Indian Urban Legend?

 -

Maybe we should ask the tigers if it is a U.L.?

 -

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Garth
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by megaira:
This is a great study, and no, it doesn't rave that there are tons of predatory attacks on humans, the person came up with 3 out of 80 cases in modern years.

It's a pdf file, just fyi.


Well, 1st of all, that Study comes from the AK dept of F&G, which has always been anti-wolf, and has pushed the concept of hunters shooting wolves from aircraft. Those folk also have stated that they believe if the wolves are killed there will be more game for hunters- which show they don't know a freaken thing about Population Biology, etc. Basicaly, the Dept seems to be run by a bunch of no-knowing morons who want many many hunters up there.

Now, on to the study itself- it actually shows just the opposite- hidden in all those wolf "attacks" is the fact that in many areas wolves get very acustomed to humans, and happily live side by side with them- and will get used to handouts, sometimes taken from hand etc. They are freindly, gregarious & curious. Most "attacks" occured when the wolf bit a hand or something when the human was feeding said wolf a piece of sausage or similar by hand. Heck- I have had my own dogs occ do this by accident.

Then there are the "three predation attacks". Case 15 starts out with boys being mostly by themselves and then an "unprovoked attack" happens [Roll Eyes] but we really don't know what the boys did, and they certainly could have provoked the wolf. In both cases, the wolf had clearly been habituated to humans, and accustomed to handouts. It could have simply got confused over what it thought was more handouts.

But the bias of this "study" is shown clearly by case study #17, the third "predation" attack- the "story" comes from a fictionalized book written in 1920 or so about things that perhaps happened in 1900. More than a century ago, and of course the story could not be- nor was- fact checked or verified. [Roll Eyes]

It is clear that if wolves live close to humans and the humans make a habit out of feeding them, there will be a few accidents. Compare these to the many many bear attacks during a similar period when humans "feed the bears". Bears in those attacks aren't thinking the humans are food- they thing the humans are a source of food- entirely different.

Altho Barns states his opinions that wolves and dogs are the same species as an absolute FACT- that is disputed. Since the two species (or perhaps subspecies) do not "normally and freely" interbreed, the classification is uncertain. This is still hotly debated, and opinion is split. Admittedly, the majority are now going for the two to be only Subspecies, but the debate is far from over. Note that Tiger & Lions can & do mate in zoos and produce viable, fertile offspring- but in no way are they the same species.

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Barns & No Bull
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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quote:
Originally posted by Garth:
Altho Barns states his opinions that wolves and dogs are the same species as an absolute FACT- that is disputed. Since the two species (or perhaps subspecies) do not "normally and freely" interbreed, the classification is uncertain. This is still hotly debated, and opinion is split. Admittedly, the majority are now going for the two to be only Subspecies, but the debate is far from over. Note that Tiger & Lions can & do mate in zoos and produce viable, fertile offspring- but in no way are they the same species.

I would not deny that there is still persistant use of both possible classifications of the domestic dog - Canis familiaris and Canis lupus familiaris. C. familiaris is the historical name. But recent genetic work has challenged (and is said to have overturned) that name. In lay terms, the domestic dog is the genetic equivalent to the gray wolf ( Canis lupus spp.).

Gray wolves worldwide are already divided into subspecies such as Canis lupus arctos, Canis lupus columbianus, Canis lupus lycaon, etc.

Domestic dogs are domesticated gray wolves.

If one appeals to Mayr's Biological Species Concept (described earlier in this thread), you are still faced with what appears to be the same species. Domestic dogs that have reverted to a wild life (feral) will naturally hybridize with gray wolves. The genes then flow freely in both directions. The lion/tiger analogy is flawed (and violates Mayr's Species Concept) because they do not naturally hybridize.

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conspiracy theorist
The Red and the Green Stamps


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i read bits and pieces of this article. It makes senes that a wolf would also attack if it were hungry as well as rabid. I read white fang and it talks about how it was dead winter and the wolves were starving.
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fictional lie
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Moosedog:
quote:
Originally posted by M'eyari:
quote:
Originally posted by fictional lie:
The closest animal genetically to a full blooded wolf is obviously the dog (the poodle, actually, if you can believe it).

[Eek!] Wow - that *is* hard to believe.

On the topic of wolves attacking/not attacking humans - is there any way to find out approximately how many wolf attacks were reported (per year) before and after the gun became a common weapon?

I always thought that the Siberian Huskey was the closest to the wolf. It certainly LOOKS most like a wolf.
sorry...when i said most closley related, i meant genetically...sorry for the confusion.

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LadyLockeout
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Heh. I had a boyfriend once who swore on everything he ever believed in that the wolf was closest related to the dolphin. He also wanted to free charles manson, and kill all the *insert racial slurs here* he could find. That relationship lasted a VERY short time.

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Wiley
The Red and the Green Stamps


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If you love them, shoot at them. Teaching wild animals that people are not food is a good idea!
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