Judge for yourselves.
Preface to, Wolves in Russia
My first real job started in 1950 working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Animal Industry in Mexico. I had the unique experience to work for the American-Mexican Commission to Eradicate the Foot and Mouth Disease (CAMPEFA). I became the Chief of a Livestock Inspecting/vaccinating Brigade in a horseback only area in a tropical rain forest with headquarters in District IX, Area C, Sector 26 near the village of Cozolapa, Oaxaca. CAMPEFA was formed to prevent the spread of the foot and mouth disease (fmd) from Mexico into the U.S. as over 15,000,000 head of Mexican cattle had been infected. Resistance to CAMPEFA was fierce in some areas of rural Mexico. One US agriculture magazine reported that 157 CAMPEFA workers were killed during the eradication program.
My brigade would constantly travel throughout my sector by horseback inspecting and vaccinating all cloven footed domestic livestock to prevent them from catching this dreaded disease. My brigade consisted of my Mexican Counter-partner, various numbers of cowboys, and a few Mexican Calvary Troops. Huge Brahma bulls would run from the cowboys, until lassoed; then they would charge the cowboys. To help, I kept out of the way until I could vaccinate the bull. If we found the fmd, I had the authority to quarantine the area, halt all movement of cattle, and a veterinarian would be called in to supervise the slaughter of all cattle in a designated area. Fortunately, there were no active cases of fmd in my sector while I was there. Sometimes there were 25 to 35 horses and mules in my brigade.
The fmd is a highly contagious viral disease that has a broad host range of cloven footed animals. If one animal in a herd of 1000 catches the disease, within 24 hours every animal in the herd can be infected. It is considered the most costly of all animal diseases. It is often necessary to conduct a wholesale slaughter of animals whenever there is an outbreak. In 1924 there was an outbreak of the fmd in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the probable mode of infection of some cattle was dogs. In 2001 there was a major outbreak of fmd in England and approximately 8 million head of cattle were slaughtered.
When working for CAMPEFA, I was absolutely and thoroughly committed to stamping out the fmd. An American veterinarian told me that one reason the fmd was so difficult to stamp out in Mexico was that dogs and coyotes were possibly spreading the disease. This statement was etched into my mind and had a profound effect on my future interest in livestock and diseases.
The outbreak of the Korean war brought an abrupt end to my work in CAMPEFA. I was a bachelor and was called to duty to serve my country. I volunteered for the U.S. Air Force, and was selected to be trained as a Russian linguist at Syracuse University. As soon as I learned the Russian alphabet, I learned the Russian words for fmd, anthrax and rabies. I knew these words before I knew the words for cow, sheep, goat or pig. Perhaps you can imagine some of the good laughs my Russian teachers had about this.
In order to accelerate and develop my skills in Russian I started to read Russian wildlife magazines and books extensively. Wolves were often discussed and soon my interest became focused on wolves in Russia and the USSR. I asked every native Russian I met if they had any knowledge of wolves. I began to record data and sources on 3 by 5 cards. I especially watched for reports that wolves can and have carried the fmd and other diseases and parasites around Russia and the USSR. My interest in wolves grew into a serious hobby.
All my reading or discussions about wolves was in Russian until I started in 1965 to read American literature about wolves. I became intrigued by the differences in reported wolf behavior in Russia and the reported behavior of wolves in the U.S. Why all the differences?
The following are some areas of my research on Russian wolf activity which I found to be especially interesting and different from much Western writings. My research about the characteristics, habits, and behavior or Russian wolves generally indicated the following. Human fear of wolves is deep and is based on documented facts and events; it is not based on myths, fables, and old wives tales. The population of wolves depends on humans and not on epizootic diseases. Wolves kill many healthy and fit game animals and not just weak and diseased ones. Wolves sometimes engage in killing more animals than they need for food. This characteristic is called surplus killing. The questions are when and why? When wolf numbers are high, they can begin to carry and spread to other animals damaging and dangerous parasites and diseases. When wolf numbers are high, they can drastically affect the dynamics of wild game populations. Wolves are not always afraid of humans, if wolves show signs of habituation, exploring around humans, and challenging humans â€“ then they may attack humans.
In November 1993 I took the opportunity to comment by letter on the Draft Environmental Impact Study about re-introducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park.
I wrote that in my opinion, more research was needed on the potential negative impact wolves would have on bringing and spreading parasites and diseases into the park. There are numerous Russian writings how wide ranging wolves carry and spread many types of dangerous parasites and diseases - including taenia hydatigena, brucellosis, deer-fly-fever, listerosis, anthrax, rabies and reported to carry fmd and others. Wolves in Russia are reported to carry over 50 types of parasites, including echinococci, cysticercocci, coeruni (all of which can attach humans) and the trichinellidae family. Russian wolves are reported to create, spread, and maintain "hot spots" of disease. Russians report that parasites are the invasion route of diseases to other animals. The parasites which wolves carry to wild animals, may then be passed on to domestic animals and then pets may pass them to humans. I believe more research needs to be done about the fact that wolves may cause serious harm by spreading dangerous parasites and diseases over large areas.
I believe that wolves have a legitimate role and place in the ecosystem. I support that their numbers be carefully managed as result of scientific research on their impact on given areas.
After all my years researching Russian wolf behavior, I conclude that as a general rule, many Western writers and supporters of wolves often over emphasize the positive role of the wolf in nature, and tend to ignore or overlook the negative aspects of wolves in nature. I hope readers of English will read my book and begin to look at the many differences in wolf behavior being reported in Russian and North American wolves.
- End -