NTY Editorial – A Stay of Execution for the Wolves

A Stay of Execution for the Wolves. The New York Times.

The Times writes: “This deep-set hostility has only a little to do with ranching. It is really driven by the competition between human hunters and wolves for the same game animals: elk and deer. And underneath it all is a false myth — the wolf as a kind of ferocious coward and an indiscriminate killer — that says less about the true nature of wolves than it does about human fear.”







  1. Barb Avatar

    Who is truly the “ferocious and indiscriminate killer?”

    It is definitely man, not beast.

    Just look at his history (and current story still) of killing and exterminating predators in the West for his private ranching interests using whatever means possible including cyanide poisoning, steel jaw traps, “denning” and other means.

    If it meant killing other unintended wildlife, domestic pets, or even humans, well, that’s the price that has to be paid so they can sell their beef to the market.

  2. Catbestland Avatar

    “We humans fear the beast within the wolf because we do not understand the beast within ourselves.”
    ~ Gerald Hausman

  3. Mike Post Avatar
    Mike Post

    The one group that has escaped responsibility here is Hollywood. Entertainment media is full of inaccurate and negative stereotyping of wolves reminiscent of the old european fairy tales. Sad thing is, the wild eyed wolf pack with blood dripping from their muzzels as they circle the terrified humans huddled around the campfire makes for great theater as well as dangerously flawed perceptions on the part of most who have no real life wolf experience.

  4. Barb Avatar

    Yes, Hollywood is partly to blame but it is so much more the ignorant thinking that was brought here from white Europeans — the big bad wolf — in fact, Europeans saw nature and ALL wild animals, but especially predators, as “dangerous.” The countyside was “wild” and “undomesticated” = “bad.” Anything that was there naturally was bad — buffalo, etc. So white man brought more “civilized” animals such as cattle and ignored, feared or exterminated the native magnificent buffalo.

    Amazing how these views have stuck — even in 2008.

  5. Pronghorn Avatar

    Speaking of fear-mongering, check out the gratuitous posting at the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website:
    “The Fear of Wolves: A Review of Wolf Attacks on Humans.” It’s from the Norsk Institutt for Naturforskning–an accounting of wolf attacks in Scandinavia, Europe, Asia, and North America. http://fwp.mt.gov/content/getItem.aspx?id=10997

  6. JB Avatar


    You should go back and take a look at the report. It was actually initiated to REDUCE people’s fear of wolves. There’s actually an entire section called “Why are there so few attacks in North America.”


  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I’ve posted the Norsk Institutt for Naturforskning study a number of times.

    It tells me that in North America wolf attacks are few and almost always the result of habituation, human intervention into wolf – dog fights, or sick wolves.

  8. Ice Avatar

    This story making the New York Times is very good publicity for wolves in general. I think most Americans are unaware of the battle being fought over predators in the west. I work for the Dept of the Interior and just recently learned about “wildlife services.” The Dept of Agriculture keeps this branch of federal service under the radar. I think a story on wildlife services should be published nationally. The USFWS is subject to a lot of “political” pressure and they folded. Maybe they have a bigger plan and this was part of it. Anyway I can’t thank Judge Molloy enough for making the right decision under these conditions.

  9. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    Well, on the flip side of the popular media coin, Hollywood’s been none to kind or accurate in its portrayals of hunting and hunters either. I recall watching some sitcom or another a few years ago – about a bunch of people who worked in a big-city office. Anyway, one of them comes back from a “hunting trip” and is terribly traumatized. See, on the trip, apparently, the “hunters” baited a deer to walk right up to them using a Twinkie and then shot it in front of its “family.” That was wrong and ignorant on so many levels, I wouldn’t even know were to start with the script writers – who I wager had probably never laid eyes on a deer that wasn’t in a zoo.

    Anyway, I think the popular image of hunters is that we’re all basically like Elmer Fudd – only more psychotic.

    Frankly, I’ve been happy with most of what the NYT has had to say on the subject of wolves – but the parting shot in this latest editorial comes a bit too close to being an anti-hunting screed for my taste. It never delves into WHY hunters might have a problem with wolves. It just seems to imply the same old stereotypes – that we’re basically destructive and uncaring interlopers in nature — out there shooting deer and elk for “fun,” — and upset that wolves might spoil that “fun.”

    Even among most anti-wolf hunters (and I know quite a few) it’s a bit more complex than that.

  10. Mike Post Avatar
    Mike Post

    You are right Hal. I belong to a group of hunters who spend as much time in the field pulling old fence, picking up trash and junk, building wildlife water projects, treating noxious weeds and generally making the wilderness better for every user, hunter or not, then they do actually hunting. Won’t see that on the news.

  11. Pronghorn Avatar

    Quote: You should go back and take a look at the report. It was actually initiated to REDUCE people’s fear of wolves. There’s actually an entire section called “Why are there so few attacks in North America.”

    I actually DID take a look at it. But given its inflammatory title, the ponderous amount of info in it, the small print, and knowing which way FWP leans, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that it isn’t there to reinforce the casual wolf-hater’s attitude through the title alone! One wishes they might have called it, “Dispelling the fear of wolves” etc.

    Ice, check this out http://www.predatordefense.org/USDA.htm regarding Wildlife Services. Beware the mountain lion picture that tops the page. Sickening.

  12. JB Avatar

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Is the title really inflammatory? A title is supposed to convey what it is that your report contains. This report reviews wolf attacks on human beings. I actually found the title quite descriptive.

    As to why Montana would post it on their website…well I suspect Carolyn was hoping to reduce people’s fear of wolves. I think you’re grasping at straws.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan