Thursday, January 7, 2010

Of Wolves and Men

I hope many wolf hunters and those, who critize the efforts of wolf supporters, will read my story.

I am not a vegetarian and I am not against animal hunting. Hunting for food, and logical hunting, that is.
I am not an oversensitive city person, that never saw a wild animal in it´s natural surrounding.

I am an experienced breeder of working siberian huskies and I share my life with around 50 dogs, for 20 years. these dogs have very much similar behaviour and are genetically closest to the wolf.

I am also long time conservationalist. And I have never heared any such thing, that inbreeding of wolves would bring them to such extreme situation, that they would need to be shot for that. (On that note, I am really glad to have read an article on http://www.sr.se/ yesterady, called "Genetics No Reason for Wolf Hunt" which clearly confirmed, after a debate with Hans Ellegren, proffesor of evolution biology, University of Uppsala, Sweden), what I just said).

Instead, in such situations, those who really care for wolves, not those who find an easy and brutal solution, which will satisfy their trophy hunting needs, come with relocating programs, colars with electronic devices are attached to wolves so the population can be monitored and we can learn more about their living, instead of getting rid of them without even knowing them.

I wonder how many of the hunters who went out in the past days, and killed the wolves, know them, their social habbits, their way of hunting prey, their importance to the ecosystem.

People say that there is too many moose, so we need to keep their numbers down. But they forget, that it is not entirely up to us. The wolves, the coyotes, the bears and other beasts have the same rights to help keeping the numbers down and keeping the balance in nature. In fact, they are the ones who work the smarter and more "human" way than we do. They take the weakest individuals from the herds. They never go fo the leaders, for the strongest ones. But many human hunters try to go for those big, chunky, juicy ones or for those with the most majestic antlers. So where is the wisdom?

Another argument I see all the time lately, is pictures of dogs ripped apart by wolves. First of all, who gives a 100% guarantee, that all of them were killed by wolves, secondly, the interesting evidence is, that vast majority of these dogs are hunting breeds. Coincidence? I don´t think so.

The largest Swedish insurance company, Agria, which insures over 70% of Swedish dogs, provided interesting statistics of dogs being killed annually. Only a small percent of them were confirmed to be killed by wolves and those were confirmed to be hunting dogs!

An interesting number to mention is also the amount of dogs being killed by hunters annually - 135, comparing to wolves, which was about 30 in the past few years.

Regarding the small percent of companion dogs that were really killed by wolves - if people live in areas with high wolf and other wild predator population, it is their own risk and excuse my language, also stupidity, that they do not secure their animals well enough.

We live in the middle of wilderness, nearest community is 10km, nearest town with infrastructures (shops, gas station, post office) is 40km. We live right in the woods. I am always extra cautious when I go for walk in the woods with my dogs.There are eagles circulating above our kennel and house when we have small puppies, so we had to build our puppy kennels so that the big birds can´t hunt them. We never leave the dogs unattended, if they are not in their kennels.

Two years ago, I was attacked with my dog team by moose. The moose held us on place for two hours and kicked into my dogs seven times. Due to incredible amount of luck, we managed to escape the moose´s attacks with just a few minor injuries on a few dogs. Do I hate moose since then? Do I want to kill them brutally? No. I am just extra careful and I know that next time I meet one, who is wounded (like this one) or doesn´t want to leave the trail, I will turn my team around.

A man in our neighbourhood has a herd of 20+ sheep. He has them well secured. They´ve never been taken by wolf. He experienced a lynx attack once, and since then, he keeps his sheep close to the house at night. He also has several very good and sharp herding dogs.

It is us, humans, who have (or I should say should have) more brains and should make wise decisions to prevent tragedies. The planet does not belong to us exclusively. Many species were here before us. We have likvidated so many plants and animals already. And every time we feel we don´t have enough space for our comfortable living, we just go ahead and kill some more.

What would we do if the animals decided the same about us? that there´s too many of us? That we are sick, that we have many weak ones, or with genetic disorders among us, and therefore a certain quota should be killed? You would call that inhumane, right? And what we do the underpopulated, endangered species of wolves? We inhumanely and brutally planish their families and leave their children alone, in the middle of the winter, without the elders who provide food. We leave them starve to death. We proudly show off our trophies. Our easy trophies.

Almost every hunter I´ve ever met told me, that hunting is a wise thing. That animals can´t be put in disadvantage. That only certain amount of hunters can be in one group, to make it fair for the animal. Wow, so how is it possible that it was allowed for over 1200 hunters to kill 27 wolves?! That is absolutly unaceptable. And brutal and immoral. Swedish government should never consult the wolf problematic with the hunting association. None of them are experts in wolf behaviour. Conservationalist experts should have been contacted and consulted, before this tragic decision was made.

If you read the article below ("Sad News with Consequences - Tragedy for Sweden´s Wolves) I reposted yesterday, you will clearly see that the hunt of 27 animals to keep the population down, will result in a tragedy - as it was planned to decimate the wolf packs into such extend, that their species would barely recover. I also wonder, if the Swedish government knows about this plan, and if they specified what kind of animals (age, sex, etc.) should be killed. I do not want to believe that the decision makers would specifically tell to kill so many pack leaders, pupps, parents of young, dependent pupps, etc. This is a totally immoral, unacceptable act, that has to be investigated and punished. And many steps have to be taken, not to ever repeat such terrifying act that cannot be forgiven. Over one weekend of brutal killing, Sweden has lost it´s position of a leader in ecology and environmentalism. This country cannot any longer be used as a good example for other countires. But that is another story.

I could write on and on. The point is clear. Not all of us, who protect wolves and protest about this bad decision of the Swedish government, are city people and vegans who never set a foot in the woods, or anarchists that have to protest against everything. We are not driven by hate. Many of us, unlike the wolf hunters, know what we are saying. We read facts and follow stastistics. We listen to experts and to the common sence. How come the government and the hunters don´t?

With hopes and wishes that more of us will open our eyes and hearts.

Katerina

P.S. I would also like to make a clear statement, that I do not put all hunters in the same box, labeled "bad". I know quite a lot of hunters, some of which are my friends. They love and respect nature, and they follow a code of ethics. And they will not take this as an attack.

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