An Untrue Wolf Story: Continuing the Conversation

Candice Gaukel Andrews November 14, 2013 25

Stories about our nation’s wolves always arouse passion and garner lively debate. ©Paul Brown

Other than climate change, there may be no other environmental topic that arouses more passions or garners livelier debate than our nation’s wild wolves. A recent Good Nature post is a case in point.

Both topics deserve our thoughtful consideration and the voicing of our personal opinions, careful judgments and real-world solutions. So when I read a news story this week about a Michigan legislator who admitted that he had lied about the sighting of gray wolves outside a day care center in order to convince Congress to strip the animals of endangered species protections, I knew that Good Nature readers would want to weigh in.

Read the story here. Then, let’s continue the conversation about wolves and wildlife started on Good Nature on November 5, with a companion piece on November 12.

As humans encroach more and more on wolf and bear territory, how much of what is reported about our large, native carnivores can be trusted?

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,


Whatever your beliefs and sentiments regarding living with wolves and bears, learning more about them is what Natural Habitat Adventures’ expeditions into wolf territory and bear habitat are all about. To see these animals in the wild and engage in discussions with wildlife experts, check out our winter Yellowstone wolf trip as well as our grizzly bear tour.



  1. Dan Brook, Ph.D. December 5, 2013 at 5:05 am - Reply

    Just like the Gulf of Tonkin incident and other false stories used to justify violence against the “other”…

  2. Bob Johnston November 23, 2013 at 5:15 am - Reply

    Thank you professor. A little humor is the most palatable medicine.

  3. Barbara Hayton November 23, 2013 at 5:13 am - Reply

    How sad someone would lie in hopes to kill one of God’s creatures. So much effort was put into returning the wolf to the Yellowstone eco-system which was getting back to nature’s balance when It was decided in Wyoming and Montana they could be killed on site. Most of the allotted number of wolves have already been killed. When visitors come to Jackson they want to visit Grand Teton Nat. Park and Yellowstone and they want to see wolves and grizzlies. Those who hate the wolf have gotten their way and now it looks like we’ll have trophy hunting of our grizzly bears. I live in Jackson and feel so sad at what we’re doing to our wildlife and our wild places. Nature can handle the balance if man would allow that to be.

  4. David King November 21, 2013 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Since this descended into the sordid world of politics I have to take one small isse with Jim’s implicaiton that the fear of wolves is tied to a dislike of government. First it is an illogical position since those with that sort of paranoia would want to leap on the bandwagon to have even larger governmental oversight to protect us, often from ourselves, and create programs making us even more dependant on their largesse. Second, although I am profoundly opposed to “big government,” I am also profoundly opposed to the paranoia and myth surrounding wolves and making us all into modern little Red Riding Hoods. I am solidly with Bob on this one.

  5. PROF. PARTHASARATHI CHATTOPADHYAY November 21, 2013 at 10:26 am - Reply

    The humor of of Mr. Bob Johnston is understandable……

  6. Bob Johnston November 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    …and the worst predators are politicians. Trust the wolf first.

  7. Kevin Pack November 20, 2013 at 6:33 am - Reply

    Lord –
    So a politician lied. Are all of you so dense as to think that ANY politician is trustworthy?

    So here we are having a wolf discussion again and the emotions take over the discussion to the point that a debunked myth, (but a positive myth for the wolf versus a negative one), finds it way into points being made about the myths on wolves.

    I probably, more than anyone understand the love of a wolf, having owned a captive one, but replacing on myth for another to make a point is beyond ludicrous. Yes, the wolf was domesticated to become the dog, but the animal that is domesticated is no longer the wild creature that you are all pining over. Try taking a sub-adult, (teenager) wolf through puberty, yes they go through it, and then come back after you get an education and tell us about the wonderful experience.

    Wolves as a whole are not endangered, a few subspecies are, but the Grey, (which this discussion seems to revolve around), is far from it and where they have been allowed to roam unchecked the damage done to the Ungulate population is noticeable within 5 years, now some of you will say that is the way of nature, but once the hunting gets hard the wolf packs turn on ranch herds of sheep and cattle, the wolf is not stupid and it knows an easy kill means less work and more nutrition for all.

    Look, the mystique of the wolf runs imaginations on both sides but it is only the mystique. The reality is far from either story told, the wolf is not a boogeyman but it is also not a cuddly big dog it is a wild animal that has a temper that is dangerous. IF you read the book written about living with the wolves by the Norwegian scientist that almost died of exposure it took him months upon months to gain the animals trust and even then they did not fully trust him.

    Man is a predator, (whether you like it or not), and two predators very rarely coexist in harmony. They may tolerate each other but when territories are crossed either will defend their territory.

  8. Penny Lindlau November 20, 2013 at 6:30 am - Reply

    Coyotes do not seem to scare people the way wolves do. It will take more rabies cases in the coyote population to put the fear into folks and controling them is still a difficult thing. Increasing the wolf population is one way but not likely to win much support.

  9. PROF. PARTHASARATHI CHATTOPADHYAY November 19, 2013 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Wolves are wild animals. They very much part of our eco-system as we are. If these beautiful creatures are decimated and wiped out it will be an irreparable damage to the hunter-prey relationship set by the Nature. Prehistoric men survived by ‘out-sourcing’ meat from wolves’ kill, but they did not keep these intelligent animals as their pet. The wolves hunt by themselves. Nowhere I found any documented & scientific evidence substantiating that wolves in the wild relied on men for meat they need to survive. So how did the ‘wonderful symbiotic hunting relationship’ between man & wolf, as predicted by Mr. Dan Tubbs, did exist is a mystery.

  10. Tarie November 19, 2013 at 8:48 am - Reply

    I did not follow the earlier actions of the Michigan politician. But if he gave “official testimony” to a government agency and knowingly lied in the process, is this not an illegal act?

  11. Carlyn Kline November 18, 2013 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    It is obviously increasingly difficult to ascertain the truth about so many issues. Outright lies masquerade as “misspeaking” and are soon forgotten by the public, especially if they are not directly affected or if they profit from the deception. Somehow this does not fit my definition of good stewardship.

  12. Dan Tubbs November 18, 2013 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Man and wolf used to have a wonderful symbiotic hunting relationship. Too bad mankind has forgotten that bond. We need to figure out how to live with these beautiful creatures, not destroy them.

  13. Mosheh Wolf November 18, 2013 at 8:01 am - Reply

    I love how he said that it was “an error in the text”. A made up story is now “an error in the text”. To use the metaphor that the politician was using, it wasn’t a flat tire, it is a missing carburetor. Overall, I’d be a lot more worried about coyotes than about wolves. However, people grew up with stories of the Big Bad Wolf, versus Wile E. Coyote. I would also guess that the majority of people in the USA would mistake a coyote for a wolf,

    As for the attack, well, 4,500,000 people are bitten by dogs every year in the USA. In 2012 35 people were killed by domestic dogs, 19 of them children, and 8 of them younger than a year old. There are 9,000 wolves in the USA, with one confirmed attack this year. So that is 1/9000 attacks per wolf per year, 0 fatalities, and only one fatality this century. There are 83,000,000 dogs in the USA, ad, as I wrote, 4,500,000 attacks per year, and 245 fatalities this century. that is 1/18 attacks per dog per year. So, you are about 500 times more likely to be attacked by a dog than by a wolf, and 245 times more likely to be killed by a dog*. This makes dogs far more dangerous and deadly than wolves. As Casperson said, “Sound Science”.

    perhaps we should instate a dog hunt?

    * Ain’t statistics grand?

  14. Thorhold Souilljee November 18, 2013 at 7:52 am - Reply

    Wolves disappeared in the Netherlands during the 19th century. Nowadays, conversation management institutes try to lure the German animals. It is a matter of time of the rentree of this phenomena. Very exciting, however, this summer there was an road-kill and the body was in the news for weeks. Finally, it was a joke. Probably killed in Poland, driven to the middle of the Netherlands and dumped in a ditch.

  15. Trevor LaClair November 17, 2013 at 11:17 am - Reply

    Those birth defects are one of many reasons why we need wolves. In a balanced ecological system, the stronger individuals are the ones who pass on their genes but without the predators, then there will be a lot more diseases and harsh genes being passed from one generation to the next. Plus wolves are a keystone species but most people don’t understand what that means.

  16. Judy Hoy November 17, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Trevor, you certainly got it correct “that people will believe the word of a politician rather than scientific facts” (or published peer reviewed studies). By the way, without wild grazing animals for wolves to hunt and feed their pups, wolves won’t last long. Why won’t anyone look at the birth defects on the grazing animals that walk by while they are waiting for wolves to show up to look at in Yellowstone National Park. An even better question is, why aren’t the park biologists doing anything about the birth defects on the grazing animals. Have you seen any of them admitting the animals have obvious birth defects? The birth defects are affecting the populations of grazing animals all over the United States and Canada – where most of the wolves live. Does anyone care?

  17. Ashley Mecum November 17, 2013 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Interesting. I would think that even in lying, a Coyote sighting would have been much more plausible a story, seeing as they have been moving progressively closer to human settlements over the last few years.

  18. Douglas Fink November 17, 2013 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Link to further documentation of idiocy at work resulting in more illegally killed wolves. $21,000 reward offered for info on those responsible.

  19. Rob Wilson November 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    This is the stuff that puts the fork in trust of our elected representatives. Is it any wonder that fewer than 2 in 10 trust government? What a dolt. A lying dolt. He should finally take the honorable action and resign. And if he does not, voters should recall him. What is wrong with such people?

  20. Cynthia Bournellis November 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Thank you Candice for speaking up for wolves. If anyone lives in Calif. and can attend this hearing in Sacramento on Nov. 22, please do. Wolves need our voices!

    We need you to join us, Friday, November 22nd, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) public hearing in Sacramento, CA to speak out against the delisting of nearly all gray wolves in the Lower 48.

    This hearing is our chance to show key decision makers at FWS that Americans support continued protection for gray wolves and oppose this misguided proposal. Even if you’ve submitted comments to FWS, your testimony still matters.

    To ensure you are fully prepared to testify and/or attend the hearing, Defenders of Wildlife would like to invite you to a pre-hearing event. Please RSVP Today!

    Our best chance to stop this reckless plan from going through will be by showing up in droves at these public hearings and speaking out on behalf of wolves! Even if you would prefer not to testify, your presence will make a huge difference and show just how strongly Americans support wolves!

    During the pre-hearing event, supporters like you can gather and meet fellow wolf enthusiasts and participate in the pre-hearing rally. Defenders experts and our conservation allies will be present to answer questions on the dire situation wolves are facing. We’ll also guide you on how to deliver effective testimony if you choose to speak at the hearing.

    Please RSVP today if you plan on attending Defenders’ pre-hearing event in Sacramento.
    Defenders Pre-Hearing Event
    When: Friday, November 22nd
    Where: Outside Fairfield Inn next to the Marriott
    1780 Tribute Rd
    Sacramento, CA 95815
    Time: 4:00pm – 5:00pm: Hear from some amazing wolf advocates and rally with fellow supporters
    5:00pm: Sign up to testify
    6:00pm: The public hearing starts

    After the pre-hearing event, we’ll make our way next door to the official FWS hearing to ensure that they hear our voices loud and clear!

    The opposition and wolf-haters will likely be there in force, and FWS needs to know that the vast majority of Americans – and Californians — favor continued protection for our beloved wolves!

    You can help deliver that message just by showing up! Please – join us in Sacramento, CA and speak out for wolves!

  21. Trevor LaClair November 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    That is ridiculous. The worst part is that many people will believe the word of a politician rather than scientific facts. It’s a good thing he admitted he was wrong because that could have caused a lot of problems.

  22. Douglas Fink November 15, 2013 at 9:25 am - Reply

    There was a similar story here in North Carolina years ago where efforts are underway to restore the essentially extinct at one time, Red Wolf. After an island refuge for the wolves had been established some wandered on government lands and one guy claimed that “a snarling wolf was advancing on his child but he was afraid to shoot it for fear of being arrested”. What BS, if a wolf was attacking his kid he and anyone else would have shot it, at best he might have sighted a wolf hundreds of yards away and then made up crap for the notoriety.

  23. Mauverneen Blevins November 15, 2013 at 8:15 am - Reply

    One word for him – unprintable so fill in the blank.

  24. James "Jim" O'Donnell November 15, 2013 at 8:14 am - Reply

    The fear of wolves is astounding. Its a sickness actually that dates back a thousand years but in our times has the additional layer of the paranoia and idealogy of anti-government extremists.

    Thank for this great post.

  25. Phillip Tureck - FRGS November 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    A politician that told a mistruth – never!!

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