Wildlife, fear, and real life

Politicians play to the incoherent fears of wimpy folks.
This is bad for protecting the planet and its wildlife-

Just two months ago many Americans feared they would soon be stricken by dread Ebola and those who survived would have their heads lopped off by ISIS. Fortunately a cure was deployed for both Ebola and the bloody blade of ISIS. The November election cured both.

The practice of politics consists mostly of talk –well, it’s best to say “communication.” A surprising amount of this talk is designed to manipulate fear in the public. Raising the fear level appropriately, or lowering it, or misdirecting it, are tools of the trade.

With the coming of the web, however, it isn’t hard to find some objective facts about what needs to be feared. There are statistics that enable us to find the probability of the possible ways of our demise. Now as a result people can know to worry most about heart disease because they can find their chances of dying from it are one in five. Next on the worry list is cancer, one in seven. Third is stroke, one in 23. Some kind of accident is one in 36, auto accidents being one in 112. Assault by firearms is one in 306, while accidental firearms discharge is one in 6500.

We can also learn what is improbable, such as getting hit by an asteroid is estimated at one in 200,000 to 500,000. Fireworks is one in 386,000. Really improbable is death by falling coconut — one in 250-million. Improbable too is death by terrorist attack. It’s one in 9.3-million. We could go on. Perhaps death by one’s lover sitting on your face (a growing concern of the U.K. government). Whoops! That one is not reported.

What about those big, mean animals? Death by shark attack is one in 200-million. I couldn’t find grizzly bear or wolf, but it is not hard to estimate grizzly bear attack for American to be about one in 225-million. I assume about 1.5 deaths by griz a year. The odds of becoming wolf dinner over the last 20 years appears to have been only one in 6-billion (just one case in the USA)! I calculated this using 300-million Americans and the odds of a fatal wolf attack somewhere in the U.S. once every 20 years.

Some anti-wolf activists call them “wildlife terrorists,” but the odds of death by wolf seem to be close to 6500 times less than attack by real terrorists in the United States, the latter still being very unlikely.

So, given that this information is now available at the click of a mouse, do people appropriately worry a lot about heart trouble and nothing about wolves? Do they change their lifestyle to save their heart, but not avoid outdoor recreation so to avoid wolf trouble? No, it turns out. Many people are wimps about about wolves, yet their fear is incoherent because they think little about their cardio, not even to worry how their fear of wolves raises their blood pressure.

Why is this so – people underestimating danger of real threats and overestimating uncommon things, even incredibly rare events like wolf attack? One reason might be, to quote a recent article by Gary Ferguson, the offerings of the Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel. Recent listings there include “North America’s Top 20 Most Fearsome Predators,” a rerun or two of “Shark Attack,” and a couple of episodes of “Nature’s Deadliest,” or “Rattlesnake Roundup,” or “Yukon Men.”

It would be wrong to blame it all on the media because fear is not the media’s intent. The passive fear generated by them is just a way to make money.

Fear is the intent, however, when some cattlemen’s group predicts wolf attacks on people. They want people to fear for their lives, or more likely, those of “the little children,” when they think of wolves roaming in the hills. It is politically beneficial to them. They make similar predictions about other animals they don’t like.

This brings us to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) wanting to restart the plan to restore grizzly bears to central Idaho. We can bet this will be met with blatant fear-mongering. After all, the process was well on its way back at the turn of the millennium, when Idaho’s then- governor Dirk Kempthone stated that the grizzly restoration plan “is perhaps the first federal land-management action in history likely to result in injury or death of members of the public.” He continued railing against “bringing these massive, flesh-eating carnivores into Idaho.” He forgot they were already in Idaho, with a small population in both the Panhandle and in Eastern Idaho, in Yellowstone and adjacent country. He also forgot that grizzlies are omnivores, not carnivores . . . kind of like himself.

Kempthorne’s worries at the time, which seemed almost personal, seemed to cause the Bush Administration to stop the process. Now CBD wants a restart. Politicians and groups usually don’t truly fear big animals because they think they will get eaten though, they have other reasons to oppose them. The fear is meant for the public. Do they disrespect us when they use it, or are we as wimpy as they think and hope?

Unrealistic fear has major consequences for the outdoors, for conservation, and more are worrying about these.

Fear of harm coming to children has resulted in children not playing outdoors unsupervised. There is little unstructured access to it. This writer, being of a earlier generation, had almost total unsupervised time in the outdoors. This was during the days when the crime rate was much higher than now. Now, we have traded fun and fearless time in the sun (and familiarity) for watching “killer” fish and wildlife on TV indoors. This kind of child rearing makes it hard to instill love of the wilderness, though this has always been true to an extent, with most Americans never spending a night outdoors in the woods alone.

Climate change is something that should lead to great anxiety. It is very probable and already underway, but as we have seen, more than half relegate it to a low concern. It is perhaps like a smoker’s view of the dangers of cigarettes. “I want to quit, but not right now.”

It is true that those who hate endangered species are more than proportionately folks who say they love a high CO2 emitting economy. It is also likely true that the same are content with our alienation from nature and have no problem is Americans have an unreasonable fear of the outdoors.

So, I am afraid . . .





  1. skyrim Avatar

    Excellent observation Ralph, and well written.
    Nothing like sex and fear to sell your product or ideals. In these days of fictional “reality”, the mass of humans never really learn there is a difference.
    Selfishly though, I am grateful for the fear factor. It keeps many folks out of my way in the outdoors.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      Right now on page 212 of The Animal Dialogues/Childs (Christmas gift from a friend) Really hard to put the book down for long.

      Have you read it Skyrim?

      1. skyrim Avatar

        Nancy, I have not. With your recommendation however, I might. I’ll check my e-book catalog. (Ya, I’m one of those) ^..^

        1. Nancy Avatar

          Quotes from the book at the bottom of the page Skyrim. A lot of his wanderings & animal encounters, in your neck of the woods.


          1. skyrim Avatar

            Thanks Nancy.

  2. Todd Wilkinson Avatar
    Todd Wilkinson

    Bravo Ralph, another excellent commentary and thanks to you and colleagues for being here in the trenches all these years. Best during the holidays.

  3. MJ Avatar

    This is at the heart of the battle, I would like to understand more why introduction is first being looked at in more hostile states, vs the Pacific states, which tend to have a more progressive attitude towards environmentalists and animals.

  4. Cody Avatar

    Great article. Making those comparisons really hits home at how ridiculous and embarrassing these “protect the children from the man eating wolves” people really are.

  5. Yvette Avatar

    Thought provoking article, Ralph. It is interesting how closely that the group of people more likely to respond with a greater degree of fear also is the group that thinks and votes right of center. The fear response to some issue whether it be something like the ‘white flight’ syndrome we saw in the past, or predator management and all of the tall tales that goes with that fear factor is related to the individual’s risk perception style.

    Ironically, when the ebola case happening in America, I noticed on my facebook feed those that were responding with fear of ebola were also the same people that tended to vote with the social conservatives. The more socially conservative the people were the more hysterical their fear of ebola. Does it mean anything? Who knows, but I did notice that trend.

  6. WM Avatar

    I tend to think statistics which put risk in proper context are the most important ones. If you are nowhere near water the risk of shark attack is 0. If you are on a Western Australia beach, on your surfboard, maybe at night, the risks are much, much, higher.

    Same thing is true for humans and grizzly bears. If you are in your car, even smack dab in the middle in grizzly country the risks are small. If you are in grizzly country, maybe hiking a trail quietly or camping in a spot where another visitor may have drained a tuna can, your risks are much higher. How about that quiet hunter who is stalking thru the woods and wakes up a sleeping grizzly or accidentally gets between mama and her babies, or startles some big ol’ boar as he’s munching down on an ant hill or some stinky cloven hoofed prey he’s taken a couple days earlier, and he now mistakenly believes you also want.

    Reintroducing grizzlies to Central Idaho has real and tangible risks (and the statistics of a bad encounter are increased; most stats are deaths only, but that doesn’t tell the full story, Ralph), and it is not all “fearmongering.” I believe there is risk you can manage, rather than actually creating additional risk. Some might say increasing risk of certain types is a fool’s errand. I don’t have the stats, but my recollection of grizzlies in the GYE indicates that roughly 8-10% get in some kind of trouble every year with people/livestock, and a fair number of those have to be put down.

    I have little problem with natural grizzly re-population because it is a slower process which allows for greater acceptance over time, but reintroduction of grizzlies to the Selway-Bitterroot as suggested by CBD in its petition is, IMHO, a really bad idea. If you have ever been charged by a grizzly maybe you would agree with me. I had that experience once in Alaska, and it makes for a great story, but one I would rather not repeat.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      Thank you. I wondered if anyone would take the time to point out that every person faces a different probability of events. The chances of death by falling coconut are not one in 220-million for a person who never sits under coconut trees. They are zero. What are they for people who do find shade that way? I don’t know, but much less than one in 220,000,000. However, they are still extremely low.

      More relevant, is attack by wolves and bears. Yes, you have to be where they live. You have to be outside. You have to be where it or they are immediately nearby, though you might not be able to tell that because of lack of knowledge.

      For very rare events, statistical analysis doesn’t make much sense. There was just one wolf attack in the U.S. in the last 20 years. It was the woman jogging in Alaska who was taken down by two wolves. Why did they do it?

      More important is “why don’t they?” because it seems very difficult to provoke a wild wolf into attacking.

      Carter Niemeyer has told many of his life stories about handling wild wolves. Very often he has been alone. You approach a trapped wolf, and it submits. You go to a wolf den with pups, and the adult wolves scatter. You run at a wolf and it runs away.

      The cases of wolves approaching people, who then get frightened, are cases of people who are frightened to begin with and ignorant too. There was the recent case in Washington state where a man shot at a wolf because he said it was stalking him (along with its packmates?) “A hunter who took a shot at a gray wolf [with black fur] after being virtually surrounded by a pack in northeastern Washington on Oct. 30 has been cleared of any wrongdoing by Washington Fish and Wildlife police who investigated the incident.” See Spokesman Review. http://tinyurl.com/l22hrnu

      For a different viewpoint from someone who knows this wolf pack — the Smackout Pact — I got this email about the incident.

      “For the few who don’t know – the Smackout wolf pack is composed of one gray adult female wolf that successfully whelped five black puppies and raised them by herself this summer (the black adult male was killed and eaten by a mountain lion). There “might” be another adult wolf with her now.  No livestock damage has been confirmed in the pack’s territory this past summer, although local residents would strongly beg to differ. Facebook propaganda from Stevens County is accusing a local stockman of being “paid off” to keep his mouth shut about all the livestock this female and her puppies have brought down this summer. Hopefully investigators are looking for bite wounds made by “milk teeth” that resemble pin prick marks easily visible under an electron microscope. I am assuming the “stalked hunter” most likely blasted one of the black puppies that was “stalking” him. This kind of publicity is appalling because it is so unbelievable. Hopefully some of the pups will survive until spring WHEN they are capable of taking on large prey.”
      – – –
      So this new almost wolf-attack tale was likely that of a pack’s curious wolf pups approaching a hunter who even had his friends nearby. I think something like this has probably been the case in all of the “the wolves almost got me” stories. Unfortunately, this will go down as yet another example of dangerous wolves in the fear-the-wolf cottage industry.

      I would write more about grizzlies and fearful people too, but this reply is already quite long.

      1. Nancy Avatar

        Probably good to keep in mind that yet another hunting season has come and gone in ID, MT, WY, WI, MI, MN (and Alaska) where hundreds of thousands of hunters take to the woods, open fields, etc. (where wolves and packs of wolves are more prevalent) and not one hunter has been brought down by a wolf or wolves.

        1. Louise Kane Avatar
          Louise Kane

          yes Nancy and also compare the statistical liklihood of being shot by a hunter or being killed by a wolf or other wild animal. I’d rather be in wolf territory than in hunting area on opening day. Ralph, another excellent commentary.

      2. JB Avatar

        I don’t know, Ralph..have you ever been bitten by a puppy? Those damn milk teeth are sharp! 😉

    2. Kirk Robinson Avatar
      Kirk Robinson

      Quite right. And if you are a person living in Catron County, NM, in the heart of the Blue Range Mexican Wolf recovery area, your chances of getting attacked, let alone killed, by a Mexican wolf are zero. Yet they have those ridiculous kid cages at some of the bus stops so their kids won’t be hurt by wolves. The kids love them because they can do naughty things in them. The wolves ignore them.

      True words, Ralph!

  7. snaildarter Avatar

    Fear is a proven political weapon, and the political right loves to use it whether its Ebola, Putin, the government is taking your guns away, or crime is terrible, or wolves are blood thirsty killers. Unfortunately it works with a lot of people.

    1. timz Avatar

      As does the left with “they are going to take your kids lunch away and starve them to death,
      they are racists, they hate women,” and on and on.

      1. Debra T Avatar
        Debra T

        But Timz! The Right has voted down the funds for kids school lunch programs.. and they vote down the women equal pay bills. So..

  8. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    All right,all right – I got the message. I know I post too much. My New Year’s resolution is to keep my posts to five and under. Actually, that was a very good suggestion – no more rants and free associations. Lol 😛

    Happy holidays everyone –

    1. The Wilderness Guy Avatar
      The Wilderness Guy


  9. Kathleen Avatar

    Issues like climate change are so huge, and individuals feel (and actually are) so powerless, that it’s no surprise most people don’t lose sleep over it. The 24-hour news cycle has put every scary disease and disaster right in our living and bedrooms. Plus, we’re evolving toward an ever-more technological society–right now, our “devices” are practically extensions of our selves; in the future, perhaps *we’ll* be extensions of our devices. Where does time spent in the outdoors, wild or tame, fit into this scheme? Our culture is becoming increasingly distant from everything that’s real: food (processed, GMO), nature (video games, internet, TV), human interaction (Facebook, online discussion forums). Do succeeding generations even realize/recognize this? The rhythms of nature have been lost to us for a long time already, what with electric lights, car/jet travel, etc. In the 1980s I spent 4 months on the Appalachian Trail and learned exactly what that meant: going to sleep and getting up with the sun, while catching a ride to a town for groceries was a telling experience: traveling 40 mph in a car was absolutely dizzying! That’s a “primitive” experience most people will never have.

    Here in the northern Bitterroot Valley I still see “No grizzly re-intro” bumper stickers on occasion left over from the first attempt. Not sure if this is “fear” or a fundamental dislike/hatred of predators, the intrusion of government and laws like the ESA, “liberal” ideas, etc.

    FYI: A fairly recent thesis, “Grizzly West: The Story of the Failed Attempt to Reintroduce Grizzly Bears to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.” I haven’t read it, except for the intro, which includes this:

    “… The plan for the Bitterroots not only relaxed the restrictions of the Endangered Species Act, but also allowed unprecedented local management of the grizzly bear population. The plan’s advocates believed that their innovative approach would be the model for future endangered species restoration. Despite criticism from both conservatives and liberals, the plan marched steadily forward over the closing years of the twentieth century. In November of 2000, the FWS approved the project and expected to begin implementation in the summer of 2002. But when the Bush Administration took office in January, 2001, the new Secretary of the Interior promptly shelved the project. This thesis situates the collapse of the project as a product of the political, economic, and cultural divide that characterized the West during this period.”

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      This thesis is very well done. The quote I took from it is very insightful about the issue:

      “For Old Westerners, who by the 1980s were predominately Republicans, reintroducing
      grizzlies was not only a rejection of their values, it suggested they may have been wrong to
      exterminate them in the first place. Furthermore, such a drastic shift in policy from killing bears
      to reintroducing them could mean their political influence would continue to wither. As a result,
      reintroducing grizzlies was not just about bears, it was about power, and keeping grizzlies out of
      the region was part and parcel of preserving their authority. For New Westerners, who mostly
      identified with the Democratic Party, reintroducing grizzly bears was no less about power.
      Despite all the high-minded rhetoric that saw reintroducing grizzly bears as “an exercise in
      humility” that gives “some hope for the earth,” the action partly represented an urge on the part
      of the region’s new and rapidly expanding demographic to become the West’s dominant interest

  10. Richie G Avatar
    Richie G

    A friend went to Yellowstone with his family two years ago. He hiked about five miles in his words. He loves the outdoors , he has hiked and biked in Maine and other states too. He told me he ran into a Bear with her cubs, he slowly and being very quite got out of her way. So my contention if your in Bear country ,you must be careful very careful. For wolves bring something loud ,that should help. I came within thirty yards of a wolf he or she looked at me ,ran back into the trees came out again looked at me again then the wolf heard her pack and left. You must be careful IMHO nothing else.

  11. Richie G Avatar
    Richie G

    Ralph thank you for a very interesting article, we can always depend on you for a great insight.

  12. Kayla Avatar

    Good Article Ralph!

    Now how much I have seen this for myself as of late. I have pursued for years a lifestyle where I have backpacked deep in the wilds all by myself. It has been excellent!!! But how many people I have met is always wondering what about the bears and all the other critters I met when in the wilds during my hikes and if I am afraid. It seems this modern day society of ours has become so alienated from anything ‘Wild’. It seems so many are now so afraid of whatever might happen to them when out in the woods. But those same people are not whatsoever afraid of the big cities and everything that might happen in some big city. We people have become soooo brainwashed into being nothing but comsumers of material stuff for the military industrial complex it seems. How many people it seems rarely really live life to the fullest it seems because of all of their fears in my opinion.

    As for myself in what I have seen, the deep wilderness is far far far safer then whatever might happen in some city. I personally have experienced that being around grizzlies in the headwaters of the Yellowstone is far far safer then walking down any major street in any city on this planet anymore with the grizzlies it seems having so much more ‘common sense’ then most people anymore it seems. How much is this deep wilderness such a paradise and a necessity for us Two Leggeds in soooo many ways. But how many have become afraid of anything wild letting their lives become what the large corporations and elites can manufacture for them instead.

    Good Article Ralph and Thanks for Posting!

    1. Nancy Avatar

      “But those same people are not whatsoever afraid of the big cities and everything that might happen in some big city. We people have become soooo brainwashed into being nothing but comsumers of material stuff for the military industrial complex it seems. How many people it seems rarely really live life to the fullest it seems because of all of their fears in my opinion”

      BIG +1 Kayla!!

      1. Cobra Avatar

        I’ll take the woods anytime over the big city. I know what’s in the woods and how things work but in the city I’m lost. After about a day, if that, I get a pounding headache and nervous and just not much fun to be around.
        I did see my first lower 48 grizzly two years ago while elk hunting in North Idaho about 6 miles from the house. I’ve tried to keep track of her but did not see her this year so hopefully she just moved on. We seem to see them in that area every couple years or so but they started logging the hell out of the area this summer. Sure screwed up some good elk hunting and probably chased the bear to somewhere else.

          1. Cobra Avatar

            You never know. It was a smallish bear, maybe 250 – 300 lbs. I watched her on a rockslide for quite sometime. Pretty bear, nice colors.

  13. Professor Sweat Avatar
    Professor Sweat

    This is a fantastic article. As someone who has lived in the west side of Chicago (on the border of two different gang territories) for over a year, I know first hand what fear of real and imminent danger is for many people in this world. I’ve had my apartment broken into and ransacked, encountered a smoldering body in an alley half a block from my building, seen a row of cars set ablaze on my block, had a classmate shot to death at a party, have had friends mugged at gunpoint (or as the case of my roommate, who fell asleep on the el train and woke up to a man sawing open his pocket with a knife), and have been struck on the head by a brick by a drug addict in a robbery attempt.

    Living on a landscape with predators is not a life that would include fear. It sounds downright idyllic. Perhaps my definition of a predator is different. A grizzly isn’t going to silently beat you to death for the few dollars in your pocket. A wolf wont smash through your front door and make off with thousands of dollars worth of personal belongings. Wildlife can be unpredictable, but the vast majority of negative encounters can be avoided. They don’t have hidden agendas like humans do. All they try to do is survive.

    To me, these fears from rural Americans are simultaneously preposterous and yet believable. From my personal experience with fear in the inner city, it is silly to think that wolves will be out hunting children once they’ve eaten all the ungulates, both wild and domestic. However, living is a rural setting with less exposure to other lives, races, living situations creates a different version of reality and with different realities comes a different face of fear.

    In a more urbanized society, that face is one of corruption and poverty. If one is still out on the range (away from much of society) herding cattle or farming just like their parents and grandparents did, you’re probably going to be holding similar fears and worldviews as they did. Those that will market fear to us for their personal gain know this.

    1. Yvette Avatar

      You have a way with words, Prof. Sweat and always bring to the table thought provoking posts.

      I’m in a much smaller city and in a neighbor that is what I would call ‘on the edge’. A little further north and it is competing gangs. My hood isn’t that bad to me, but I’m also desensitized to it. To me, it’s simply ugly, or at least pockets of ghetto looking houses interwoven with old, craftsman houses that have been restored. I don’t think it is that dangerous. Other’s perceive it as ‘rough’ or dangerous.

      I was out in the field quite a bit this past summer, and not once did I encounter threatening wildlife. I say that only because if I listened to the number of people that warned me about the rattlers, the wild hogs, the water moccasins, bobcats and coyotes that may attack me I would have been to scared to get any work done. It isn’t that it should be ignored, it’s more that the warnings were exaggerated.

      I think it boils down to personal perspective. My biggest fear when out doing field work was the region I was working in was once one of the largest regions for growing pot in this country. I had more concern over stumbling over someone’s pot field than I did over getting attacked by a wild hog.

    2. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      Professor Sweat,

      Nice interpretation. Humans have proved to be the most dangerous animal. Ironic that those same humans who anthropomorphize and transcribe their own viciousness on the animals with which we share the planet

    3. Makuye Avatar

      Hi Sweat,
      Carnivores ARE quite predictable as they both intentionally and inadvertently communicate.
      For instance:
      I mentioned below in a comment beginning with Aw, Ralph,some of the signals of bears; there are many more visual which you, too can accurately read. You merely have to have sufficiently reverent respect – let natural fear reawaken natural alertness and skill in reading these, our relatives from whose parents we sprung in the 60 million ya range.
      Wolves are neither automatons. I do recommend if ever you should find yourself among the captives of those sanctuaries, that if their eyes get big and googly, with whites showing, that you immediately cease your inattentive crossed-up mis-signals. and seek to withdraw with extreme courtesy.
      You will not likely experience this in the wild. Those few who believed that a gun would help back in MO in the 20s, and quite recently in Saskatchewan (I DO sometimes keep up with “incidents”, but this is just a comment, and I am just jawing with y’all), the miner who may have made many faux pas.
      The Alaskan woman teacher who kept on running when she encountered wolves of an evening (or am) may have been unfortunate enough to have had as last experience, the meeting with a group who remembered the 28 or so who were killed by men just within the week (of whom HALF were pups. You may not know that wolves of the North get along with the related packs/family groups, as they are more seminomadic and less territorial than those farther South. It’s a sociocultural thing having to do with migration and travel of things-to-eat).
      I can hardly speak of Wolves without boring through length: I lived with a wolf , who remembered the aggression of a single Rottweiler towrd his chosen, and became a “Rottweiler racist for several years, attacking only and every mutt of that color pattern, aged, female, whatever. With all other domestics, he was tolerant, unless they made the mistake of ignoring proper wolf social behaviors. Even then, he largely just grabbed them by what is the ruff or mane in the wolf, and taking them down like a jiu-jitsu expert, until they submat.
      Fear is useful; anciently, it required self-control, and its use is to awaken to the awareness and behaviors appropriate to others, that we all share.
      Once again, anger and death-giving is a last resort – 98% chimps with guns have forgotten this, in their mistaken belief that they are boss.

      1. Professor Sweat Avatar
        Professor Sweat

        Hello Makuye,

        I do not dispute that large carnivores are be very predictable in most instances. I said that they “can” be unpredictable in certain situations (usually if it is s surprise encounter), but that these sorts of situations are preventable most of the time. I should have been more clear. My point was that humans are far harder to read.

        “They don’t have hidden agendas like humans do”

        Thank you for your response to my post though, as I found the “rottweiler racist” wolf anecdote quite funny and the rest was very informative. I have been to a wolf sanctuary here in California a few times and they are quite interesting to interact with and observe.

      2. Nancy Avatar

        So much stuff/sh*t cluttering the human “shelves” now a days with regard to wildlife. Thank you for these comments/insight, Makuye

  14. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Interesting perspective, thanks.
    I find it hard to believe that the probability of being struck by an asteroid is about ten times more likely than that of a fatal attack by a shark. I have never heard of the former, but have the latter.
    An asteroid in Russia in 2013 caused mostly injuries from secondary flying glass.
    Link to a report of a woman that was actually struck by a meteorite: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/02/130220-russia-meteorite-ann-hodges-science-space-hit/

  15. Logan Avatar

    The wolf attack in Alaska may have been the only wolf attack in the united states but not the only attack in North America. Still very few recorded attacks.

    I think the bear reintroduction issue is less about fear versus real life as it is an issue of acceptable risk. THe question on many peoples minds is “Are grizzly bears worth the risk?” “Are grizzly bears going to add enough value to an area to make the risk worth it?” To many people the idea of backpacking is dangerous. You are going miles into the wilderness with limited supplies where you are far from help should an injury occur. However, many people see that as an acceptable risk in exchange for the recreation and scenery they will enjoy. Add grizzly bears to mix and some people will decide that the risk involved is now too high.

    The issue seems to be that many of the old time ranchers and locals see bears as too high of a risk. I for example feel that the 1 in 200 million risk of a shark attack is a little too high for me so I avoid the ocean. However the risk of a bear attack doesn’t worry me so I spend a lot of time in areas with black and grizzly bears, wolves, mtn lions etc. I also think that the risk involved in lasik surgery is a little too high so I’ll keep my four eyes for now.

    I would much rather have central Idaho be repopulated by grizzly bears on their own but I won’t stand in the way of a re-introduction effort.

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      A had a feeling you were a bit myopic. 🙂

      1. Logan Avatar


  16. Joanne Favazza Avatar
    Joanne Favazza

    You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than you do of being attacked by a wild, healthy wolf.

  17. Makuye Avatar

    Aw, Ralph,
    Sometimes I tell people about where I was born, at the edge of wildness, next door to my Grandfathers’ wolf and bear traps, where he probably used to get bounty money – it was still going on in those years.

    Mom would tell me “go play outside.” I was four, and heard the call of Those Others, reaching to find their own assurance (for that is some of what the Wolf means).

    To me, it turned out to be the sound of the only true love I have ever known, as a young captive escape artist looked down into my window from the place of his “rescuers”; wolves early mature into real adults, needing the adventure of autonomy, and he finally got his way, through abuse and anger and fear of those who believe they could possess another life.

    Men and women demand the security of other-control, and give even death to those who cannot submit.

    This Wolf I speak of, I tell sometimes his stories (wilder and fiercer, and more gentle than men, I cannot tell all as they would shock and legally eat of us):
    He used to grasp my thigh with his huge alligator mouth, to inform me of his determination of what we would do, what path I was not choosing.
    (Wolves, by the way, are made too much captive everywhere still; they are made to wander until they find their mate, free, silent, delicate, like breeze and storm. To deny them their wild birthright is a great evil done by our kind: they are not made to be captive, ever.

    – Animal behaviorists can tell the amount of hybridization quite accurately. There are things a half-wolf will submit to and things a 3/4 wolf cannot comprehend surrendering to humans.
    This Wolf, in his profound integrity, could not do any of these things.)

    With superb bite control he could accurately nip, sending me the message of distinct no-nonsense, M!

    Unofficial to our political minds, yet Ambassador Plenipotentiary, he met and accepted my time-eating explanations, to two-leggeds, of his culture, language, social structure, and needs.
    (Luckily he also lived in his neophilic way, exploring many wildernesses and wildlands, mountains in the West, so he was neither confined forever captive, although never where he could hear or smell of the free ones.
    Yup, he knew what was food, and took what he needed; since his passing obviates human “illegality”, I can say that much.)

    But this missive of mine to you, is to help inform others that there are protocols, social niceties, innate and powerful courtesies, in the Tribe of Wolf; and there are also inherent, evolved demands that they make upon one another (and other canids).

    The Gray Wolf evinces a clear third-order theory of mind – you may have gotten that from my mention of his toothy suggestions.
    The wolf, in other words, knows, knows that YOU know (unlike a certain chimp relative who so often arrogates all consciousness to hisself!), and also, very importantly, knows that YOU know that HE knows.

    It goes further, of course. You may have read the recent experiments showing that crows think analogically.

    Hell, even hunting spiders know when to hide and stalk.

    The wolf’s brain has some different sulci, etc. but you must understand that the human, with its convolutions, is more a detector of complex reciprocity, social status (not relevant to the wolf who adolesces through submitting to dad’s and mom’s experience), and a lot of imaginary projections – Yes, brains evolved for controlling and intending movement, but ours create complex fantasies, as well as long social and dextrous memory, not particularly adaptive to a speedy consciousness who must immediately respond to evolved evaluative abilities superior to ours.

    We have met a lot of bears, more solitary and moody , but also always clearly communicating (which should alert all that communication is a very healthy and relevant thing to do, and ubiquitous in this biosphere); bears, too, will clack teeth, chuff, and do a number of things to overtly signal that your proximity is distressing.

    It would be more civil of humans if they would be so courteous as to learn the languages of Others. Gun and imaginary terror do not make right.

    1. karen Avatar

      Enjoyed reading your contribution to this page. It’s not every day a person of your intelligence takes the time out of his day to leave such a profound remark. Thank you

  18. Rosemary Lowe Avatar

    Thank you, Dr. Maughan! Here is our version of the Christmas Story & some New Commandments!

    In the beginning the Great Felidæ said, “Let the Earth bring forth every kind of living creature. And we will make cats in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule.”
    And it was foretold: the wolf & grizzly shall once again roam free, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and a little kitten shall lead them.
    And it came to pass, after much begetting, that many cats had gone astray, and there was no room in the shelter. Then an angel of the Felidæ came to Mary and Joseph and said, “we need foster parents.” And she delivered to them a kitten wrapped in swaddling clothes.
    And lo, three wise men came to bring gifts to the baby kitten and to worship her. The kitten had many titles: wonderful, counselor, princess of peace, Queen of Judæa. The wise men wondered what to call her.
    The one who brought gold said, we should call her name Manuela, the Goddess is with us. The one who brought incense said we should call her Gloria, her Excellency. The third asked the kitten what she thought.
    The kitten responded “Mrrrrh.” And there was a twinkling in her eye. And she said: Humans are corruptible.
    For verily, I say unto thee, I am thy cat, a jealous cat, there shall be no others before me; humans will be humbled, and few.
    Remaining Humans will now obey the New Commandments:
    1. Humans shall no longer multiply and subdue the Earth.
    2. Thou shalt not wear, eat, experiment upon, hunt, trap, harass, capture, poison, torture, or otherwise, in any way, mistreat or disrespect non-human creation.
    3. Non-humans: those who crawl, burrow, fly, walk, swim, run, climb–from the great mammals to the smallest insects and bacteria–will be free from human bondage, never-ending human development and destruction, at last.
    4. All the waters of the Earth shall once again flow free. Dams, and other human diversions, machines, will be destroyed.
    5. Non-humans will take precedence over the land. Humans will be relegated to certain, small areas of the Earth, which will not disturb non-humans.
    6. Wild Nature will be held Sacred and Secure, as the Apostle, Walkin’ Jim Stoltz proclaimed in his songs to the Earth.
    7. Humans shall not make War anymore. Those lands scarred and desecrated by Endless Human War shall be restored.
    8. All weapons shall no longer exist: Guns, Arrows, Snares, Bombs, Cages, Spears, & any other weapon used to injure, kill, or capture, will be no more.
    9. Humanist Ideology & Religion shall now be replaced by Wisdom, Awe, Respect, Adoration, and Humbleness to The Great Filedae, who will Reign Over All.
    10. The Earth will breath a sigh of relief from the terror, greed, avarice, ignorance, prejudice, and mindlessness of The Rogue Species, once called Humans.
    These New Commandments Shall Now Declare a New Earth, birthed from the ashes of the sick, dying Earth humans have made. We now sing to the Great Felidae. “unto her, all the Power, the Glory, and Majesty—-FOREVER, AMEN.

  19. WyoWolfFan Avatar

    Idaho takes this sensationalist stuff to a whole new level with websites like saveelk.com.


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