April 29, 2019 3 min read

Wolves are highly politicized animals, and wolves follow wherever they go because of this much misinformation. Unfortunately, common misconceptions about wolves can cause real harm as they promote irrational fears and can spark unnecessary retaliation or misguided policies that are not in wolves or people's best interests. Read and pass on the most common myths and the truth behind them. One important way you can help wolves is to help correct misinformation.

MYTH 1:

Wolves are dangerous to people.

Reality:

Wild wolves usually fear and avoid people. Wolves can be dangerous to humans, along with other large animals such as moose, cougars, and bears. Incidents involving wolves, however, are extremely rare. There have been only two cases in North America over the past 100 years in which wild wolves allegedly killed a human being. In order to put this statistics into context, bears have killed at least 40 people since 2000, including in North America, and cougars have killed nine since 1990. In the U.S., every year, domestic dogs kill about 30 people.

MYTH 2:

Wolves kill many cattle and sheep.

Reality:

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over six million cattle heads live in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, the three states where the vast majority of wolves live in the West. For those states show that in 2014, U.S. Fish and Wildlife reports wolves killed 136 head of cattle, or 1 of every 44,853 cow. 820,000 sheep are living in the same three states. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife shows that wolves killed 114 sheep in 2014, or 1 in 7,193. However, due to the uneven distribution of these losses, they can take a toll on a single producer.

MYTH 3:

Wolves kill for sport

Reality:

Unlike humans, for sport, wolves are not killing. For sustenance and survival, wolves and all other predators kill. Sometimes it is found that carcasses are consumed only partially, leading to the assumption that the kill was abandoned and wasted. The reality is, when other predators or people approach, wolves are very cautious and alert, and are therefore easily chased from their killing. Usually wolves are gone long before people realize they've chanced a kill. Research, however, reveals that wolves repeatedly, sometimes over weeks and even months, return to their food and most often eat the whole animal. Like many other predators, wolves sometimes kill more than can be eaten immediately, causing multiple prey animals to die. This unusual behavior has been documented in many predator species, known as "surplus killing." Surplus wolf killing is more likely to occur in late winter when it is critical for survival to have a supply of food caches to return to. Nature, if ever, is rarely wasted. Whatever the wolves do not eat first, innumerable other animals are welcomed with nourishment. Not only do sheep lack natural defenses, but they are often not well served by their instincts. Instead of fleeing, sheep tend to run in circles as wild prey would. This chaos can trigger a prey response to multiple kills in predators. This behavior with mountain lions, bears, coyotes, wolves, and domestic dogs has been recorded in the Northern Rockies. However, many of the incidents involving the killing of multiple sheep were the result of panicked sheep stamping themselves.

MYTH 4:

The wolves brought back to the West are larger and more aggressive than those who lived there before being reintroduced.

Reality:

The average weight of gray wolves is between 85 and 115 pounds. The gray wolf of the Rocky Mountain is the same wolf living along the Canada-U.S. border. Wolves are completely unaware of invisible political boundaries, like all wildlife.

MYTH 5:

Wolves kill all the elks and deer.

Reality:

Elk, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho's primary wolf prey, has recently held steady in number. In fact, since the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, the number of elks has increased substantially. But wolves made elk more alert to danger and more challenging to hunt, causing some hunters to resent.

These are just some debunked myths about our beloved wolves. Do you know any myths that needs to be debunked? Let us know and together we'll spread to  others about the misinformation about wolves. Visit wolvestuff.com or check our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wolvestuff, and show your support and save Wolves!

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