Why Educate about Wolf Behavior?

Why Educate People about Wolf Behavior? In our view, it's important that people form opinions about wolves based on fact, not opinion. Wolf behavior has a function for survival, if human's want to co-exist with wolves, they need to understand these behaviors. Wolf behavior should not be categorized as good or bad, it just is, sometimes wolf behavior occurs in an inappropriate place, such as near humans, livestock or pets, this is why we Educate People about Wolves.

As you study wolf behavior and recognize instinctual versus learned behavior, it's important to correlate the implications of wolf behavior on recovery efforts and management. In this last Unit, we will look at historical attitudes, current wolf populations and their management issues. The PBS Nature Series has four great video clips reviewing the historical perspective on wolves in the Southwest. Let's start with the first clip entitled 1893 New Mexico, before you start, open the corresponding assignment page and review the questions for review as provided by the PBS Nature Series. The second clip in the series is The Wolf Problem, the third clip is entitled Trapping Lobo and the last clip is Seton's Legacy.

Complete the entire assignment page as provided by the PBS Nature Series to help ensure you comprehend the historical attitudes towards wolves.

We've come a long way since the view of wolves in the 1890's, there are many aspects of wolf management that can be covered in other courses, our focus for this course is on behavior. Wolves were awarded protection with the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, creating opportunities for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to develop recovery plans. In Minnesota, the wolf population is managed in conjunction with Wisconsin and Michigan as the Great Lakes Wolf Population but recent population estimates have shown the population to have reached its' recovery goal and is in the process of being delisted from the Endangered Species Act. In another area of the United States, wolves were introduced into the West with a project that began in 1995 near Yellowstone National Park and within remote areas of Idaho. This population has been delisted from the Endangered Species List and is considered recovered and managed by the States. To get a perspective about the population recovery and behavioral opportunities of the Yellowstone population, review this video clip entitled: The Wolf That Changed America Video: Wolf Expert Doug Smith on the Yellowstone Project.


A variety of sources address the behavioral issues that are discussed when managing recovering wolf populations, but the Blackfeet Tribe Wolf Management Plan adopted in 2008 summarizes the wolf behavioral issues as follows: "Wolf behavior resulting in livestock depredation or harassment, killing of pets, or aggression toward people will be considered undesirable nuisance behavior and management response will be directed toward behavior modification or wolf removal. Non-nuisance behavior that will probably evolve to nuisance behavior or human habituation, such as eating garbage or pet food will be discouraged through aversive conditioning or other management options."

The International Wolf Center offers many references to provide a perspective on living with wolves. Articles include a personal account of a wolf killing a dog, a Wildlife Services Agent recognizing that wolves have become more bold in recent years and Dr. Dave Mech's addressing the issue on wolf human threats. There is one last reference on the perspective of a Montana Sheep farmer who addresses the impact of wolf depredation. To comprehend the behavioral issues related to managing wolves, it's important to review all aspects of potential conflict and the human perceptions of wolves that determine a problem wolf issue. Every year, wolves are controlled for these problem behaviors. A recent publication reviewed the concept of sterilizing wolves rather than lethally controlling wolves. Dr. Mech co-authored an article entitled Wolf Management in the 21st Century, From Public Input to Wolf Sterilization. Recent efforts in Canada to proceed with wolf sterilization have been scrapped and environmental groups in Canada are actively monitoring this situation. When you've completed your review, open the Journal assignment and document any notes on the issues of management and public perception. You will also be writing an opinion paper. Please include an assessment of cultural views towards wolves including Native Americans, Europeans, agriculturalists, urban dwellers.


Last modified: Friday, July 8, 2011, 1:20 PM
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