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WOLF MYTHS

There are many stories about the wolf. The stories that immediately come to mind are the Native Indian myths, that revere and celebrate the wolf as brother and friend. These are the stories I wish to concentrate on, but I will also add wolf stories from other cultures as I find them - just to give a fair representation of how the wolf is perceived around the world.

I will also deal with the other kind of wolf myths - the "facts" that have survived for too long now, and are part of the reason that humans distrust and fear the wolf.

The wolf has been a feature in many myths and legends from different cultures, from Native Indian to Celtic to Germanic to Nordic. And don't forget the faerytales! (even though the Victorians changed a lot of them and thereby gave the wolf a very bad reputation). Even modern storytellers use the wolf (American Werewolf in London, Dances with Wolves, etc). The wolf will always be a creature of mystery, myth and legend.

THE LESS THAN POSITIVE WOLF MYTHS (OR "FACTS")

1. Wolves eat people.

No, wolves do not eat people if they can help it. In fact they are very wary of people, and generally won't go near human habitation unless they are starving or forced to do so. Yes, they are carnivores, no they don't go out in search of human flesh like some kind of hell-spawned demon. (if you believe that they do, then you've been watching too many movies). Of course they would consider eating you if you walked into the middle of their pack hunting grounds, alone and unarmed, in the middle of winter when there is no other food available, but if you do that on purpose, then you deserve to be eaten. (and let's face it, humans have been known to do the same thing to other humans in similar situations).

2. Wolves steal babies

Dear god! See above. (and how would they climb in the window or smash down the door to do this anyway, pray tell?)

3. Wolves eat livestock

Well, of course they do! What would you do if you had a smorgasboard laid out in front of you, with only a couple of fences between you and it? Exactly - you'd help yourself. So, as this is a fact, let's not use it as an excuse to wipe out every wolf we come across, but instead work out a system that makes it either a) less inviting for a wolf to take livestock (and I'm talking about better fences, etc, not shooting them - killing solves nothing) or b) not move into areas where wolves are known to inhabit - if you're going to move in with a smorgasboard in tow, expect that you'll have to share some of it.

4. Wolves make good pets

This I have to disagree with. Wolves are not meant to be pets. They are wild animals that do not understand the protocols involved in living indoors with human beings. They won't understand that literally biting the hand that feeds you isn't friendly, or that they can't eat the pet rabbit. They belong with a pack, and although they would eventually adopt the human family as their pack, they need their own kind. Wolves operate differently to their cousins (dogs) and would only pine in the constant presence of humans. As much as we would all love to have a wolf as a pet, they are not animals that can be owned - they are their own masters and their place is in the wild.

Some interesting facts that modern humans have only recently found out about wolves:

  • Wolves mate for life
  • Wolves form a close and intense bond with their pack
  • Wolves can communicate over great distances without sound
  • Wolves have their own ettiquette when travelling in packs. eg. they "ask" permission to hunt on another pack's hunting ground when passing though
  • Wolves don't bark, they howl and grunt, but they don't bark

Coming soon ... stories involving wolves from different cultures

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