Wolves are an iconic predator of a variety of habitats, historically persecuted by humans. A quote by L. David Mech summarizes the truth about wolves “ The wolf is neither man’s competitor nor his enemy. He is a fellow creature with whom the earth must be shared.”
Worldwide the wolf has been persecuted. For example the Italian wolf population was only protected in the late 1970’s from hunting and poisoning (Apollonio et al., 2004). In the United states wolves were hunted to extinction. Wolves often come into conflict with farmers and ranchers. The exposure of domesticated cattle to wolves is thought to cause high stress in cattle, which may result in animal mortality, abortion of offspring, and weight loss ( Laporte et al., 2010). Cattle have a variable response to predators as they lack anti-predator defence mechanisms found in wildlife due to years of domestication ( Laporte et al., 2010). Though protected in many areas of the world, humans still account for approximately 90% of wolf mortality in the wild, due to habitat destruction and vehicle collisions ( Caroll et al. 2003).
Their are many tools for wolf conservation this includes; animal re-introduction, compensation programs for cattle killed by wolves, as well as education programs. A wonderful way to learn about wolves and wolf-dogs is through the Yamnuska Wolf dog sanctuary in Cochrane, AB. This non-for-profit organization cares for wolf-dogs and and educates the public . The facility currently has 17 wolf dogs in large outdoor enclosures. They are fed a raw food diet every three days consisting of a one and a half pounds of food for each animal, or daily dog kibble. What these animals are fed depends on whether they have more wolf content or dog content in their genetic makeup. These animals are not appropriate for city living as they require large areas to live, and do not like small places. Wolf dogs tend to be more cautious in nature then full bred dogs. These animals are not for everyone and require a lot of time, energy and commitment. Though these are not pure wolves, they still help educate the public, allowing a close encounter with elusive creatures that many may never see in the wild.
Apolonio, M., Mattioli, L., Scandura, M., Mauri, L., Gazzola, A., Avanzinelli, E.(2004). Wolves in the Casentinesi Forests: insights for wolf conservation in Italy from a protected area with a rich wild prey community. Biological Conservation, 120, 249-260.
Caroll, C., Phillips, M., K, Schumaker, N., H., Smith, D., W.2003. Impacts of landscape change on wolf restoration success: Planning a reintroduction program based on static and dynamic spatial models. Conservation Biology, 17(2), 536-548.
Laporte, I., Muhly, T.,B., Oitt, J., A., Alexander, M., Musiani, M.2010. Effects of wolves on elk and cattle behaviors: Implications for livestock production and wolf conservation.Plos one, 5(8), 1-9.
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