Little Red Riding Hood Lied: Myths and Facts About Wolves
Myth: Wolves are dangerous to humans.
Fact: You stand a better chance of getting hit by a meteorite than killed by a wolf. Although wolves are large, powerful animals that could kill humans, they do not. According to wolf expert Dr. L. David Mech, there is no documented case of a healthy wild wolf killing a human in North America. By comparison, more than 20 people are killed and 3 million attacked each year by man's best friend, the domestic dog.
Myth: Wolves will eliminate or substantially reduce prey species.
Fact: Wolves and large grazing animals lived side-by-side for tens of thousands of years before the first settlers arrived. Food availability and weather regulate wolf populations. When their prey is scarce, wolves suffer too. They breed less frequently, have fewer litters, and may even starve to death. Wolves often enhance prey populations by culling weak and sick animals from the gene pool, leaving only the strongest animals to reproduce.
Myth: Local economies in the northern Rockies are based on livestock production, and jobs will be lost if wolves are restored.
Fact: Ranching is a minor part of the economic base of the northern Rockies. For instance, in the counties around Yellowstone National Park, livestock production accounts for less than 4 percent of personal income, while tourism-related industries account for more than 50 percent. Moreover effects on livestock are negligible, so effects on ranching jobs will be virtually nonexistent.
Myth: The Endangered Species Act prevents the control of wolves that prey on livestock.
Fact: Both "endangered" wolves (such as those in northwestern Montana) and "threatened" wolves (such as those in Minnesota) are routinely controlled when they prey on livestock by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal Damage Control (ADC) units. If wolves are reintroduced into the Northeast Forest Region, they will not fall under full endangered species protection, but rather a special designation that allows land-owners more flexibility in controlling problem animals.
Myth: Wolf recovery on public lands will preclude other land uses, such as logging and mining.
Fact: According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, very few land use restrictions have proven necessary to facilitate wolf recovery in Montana and Minnesota. FWS says land use restrictions are necessary only if illegal mortality of wolves occurs at high levels.
Myth: Most people in the U.S. oppose wolf restoration.
Fact: Numerous polls taken throughout the United States consistently demonstrate that more people support wolf recovery than oppose it. In fact, in 1998, a poll undertaken by the National Wildlife Federation demonstrated that 76 percent of Americans support wolf restoration efforts.
Resembling a German shepherd dog, the wolf measures 4 1/2 to 6 feet long, including its tail. It stands 26 to 34 inches at the shoulder, and weighs 70 to 110 pounds. Females are generally five to 10 pounds lighter than males.
Its coloring ranges from white to black with combinations of gold, tan, brown and rust (a single litter can contain many colors).
The wolf's canine teeth may be 2 inches long.
The species of gray wolf common today has existed for over 100,000 years.