|Wiping out Wolves
- getting serious.
The change from a hunter/gatherer way
of life to one based on farming and herding started
about 12,000 years ago, and since then wolves and humans
have been colliding in many parts of the world. In Europe,
many forests were cut down during the Middle Ages to
be replaced by forms and fields, and wolves lost their
natural homes, driven to seek prey in human areas of
European settlers came to North America in the 1500S
and 1600s, they found wolves inhabiting the deep forests
and wide plains of the continent. Here there might have
been room for both human and animal predators to live
their separate lives in peace, Instead, North America
became the scene of the human race's most successful
killing campaign against the wolf.
Inspired by the traditional European
hatred of the wolf, the early settlers attacked
the wolf using pits, traps, and poison. Bounties - cash
rewards given by authorities to anyone who brought in
the hide or some other part of a dead wolf helped things
along. The American war against the wolf did not really
get under way until the 1800s, when people began to
move onto the great plains in the center of the country.
Here there were enormous herds of buffalo, which served
as a food supply for Indian tribes and for large numbers
of wolves. All three of these - Indian, buffalo and
the wolf were doomed to be brought almost to the point
of extinction by 'civilization'.
At first wolves were hunted for their thick winter
fur and a good price in European markets. Then as
cattle and sheep grazing became common, wolves were
killed because they preyed on the herds of domestic
animals. (Their natural prey, the buffalo were wiped
out during another concentrated massacre of wild life,
but that's another story..)
most common way to eradicate wolves by the American
wolfers or wolf hunters, was to use Strychnine, it was
placed in the carcasses of dead buffalo, cattle, or
sheep. Wolves feeding on the animals would die, painfully.
And so would any other creature - coyote, dog, bird,
even human - that ate the poisoned flesh. It did not
one knows how many animals were killed during the
last half of the 19th century, when the anti-wolf campaign
was most active in the western part of the United States.
Perhaps 1 or 2 million wolves died, and thousands of
other creatures fell victim.
By 1900, there were not many wolves
left in the western United States. The few remaining
animals were still being pursued by wolfers rancher,
and herders eager to eradicate the species completely
from existence in America, In 1919, the government joined
the antiwolf campaign, passing a law that called for
the extermination of wolves on federally owned lands.
By 1942, when the law was abolished 25,000 more wolves
had been killed by the government plan.
This was the last phase of the organized campaign
to eradicate the wolf. By this time, it had been
virtually exterminated in most parts of the country.
The situation remains almost unchanged
Today the wolf is classified as an
endangered species in most parts of the United States.
This classification means that the killing of wolves
is strictly controlled by federal law. For most wolves,
such protection has come too late. The killing has already
taken place, and the millions of animals slaughtered
in the past cannot be brought back to life. Ironically,
most people now agree that the world is a poorer place
because of their loss.