(Latin Canis lupus) are predators of the canine family. These animals are mammals, the analysis of their DNA has shown that they are the direct ancestors of the dog. Body length in predators can reach 160 cm, and weight – up to 62 kg. Wolves are common in Eurasia and North America, but the range and total numbers have recently declined significantly.
Wolves feed mainly on hoofed animals – deer, moose, roe deer. However, they do not disdain even smaller prey – hares, rodents. Wolves do not disdain to return to the half-eaten prey. In difficult times they can eat reptiles, frogs, large insects and even, quenching thirst, melons (watermelons and melons).
These predators always had a negative image, they were hunted everywhere, which led to the fact that in many places the population is on the verge of destruction. Although, as it turned out, wolves play an important role in the ecosystem. The main enemy of these animals is a man who, without really understanding his place in nature, on the basis of his invented concepts, breaks the balance. Consider the basic myths about wolves, replicated, in general, by hunters.
Wolves multiply rapidly if they are not shot.
In full flocks of wolves, as in general in nature, self-regulation mechanisms operate. In the first 2 years of life, 80% of all young wolf cubs die. In conditions when the tribe is not endangered, fewer females are born, and more males. In addition, the female dominant in the tribe does not reproduce to her friends who have a subordinate status. Not surprisingly, in a normal population the number is stable, since the mortality rate roughly corresponds to the birth rate. Each pair of wolves leaves behind a same pair of breeding. It should be noted that the pack is intolerant of strangers, biting them or simply driving them away.
In Europe, all wolves were killed, they remained only in Ukraine.
Surprisingly, there are fewer countries than Ukraine, but where there are no less wolves. These are Spain, Greece, Belarus, Romania. As many as 13 countries have a density of wolves more than Ukraine. For example, for 10 square kilometers in Latvia there are 0.14 wolves, in Romania – 0.11, in Greece 0.5, in Crete 0.19. It should be noted that in Greece, Slovakia, Portugal, Crete, Romania, Spain and Poland, the wolf is under full protection of the state. In all other countries, with the exception of Belarus, this predatory is partially protected. Where did the myth come from that there are many wolves in Ukraine. Are not European wolves other than meat eaten and therefore guarded? Anti-war sentiments are built on preventing the penetration of environmental ideas into the CIS countries. Our people are accustomed to taking by nature in full, and getting used to paying for it, guarding the little that remains, we can not do it.
Only the hunters understand the wolves.
Hunting publications of the CIS open spaces are willingly criticized by the Kyiv Ecological and Cultural Center, which protects wolves. Despite effective measures – prohibition of killing of wolf cubs and pregnant females, hunters charge accusations that ecologists do not understand wolves. But this method is not new. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, Nature and Hunt and the Hunting Newspaper literally exposed the professor of Moscow University, the outstanding zoologist GA Kozhevnikov, who was against harassment of “harmful” predators – tigers and wolves. Known worldwide scientist hunters declared in ignorance of zoology. Other prominent scientists who defended predators – professors Pacoski, Brauner, Buturlin, were also attacked in the 20th century. The self-confidence of hunters looks strange. They believe that the one who kills them knows the animals better.
It is noteworthy that in the mid-1980s a book by the famous Russian hunter M.V. Pavlov “The Wolf” was published in Norway. The reviews were scandalous. Norwegian zoologists and ecologists accused the author of instilling fear and bioxenophobia. The researchers noted that the materials do not have a scientific basis and are simply propagandistic.Norwegian newspapers wrote that for the wolf somehow traced the Stalinist policy, which is constantly looking for enemies, this time – in the wild. And the Polish ecologists call the situation with the extermination of wolves in the open spaces of the CIS, not only as medieval barbarism.
Reducing the number of wolves will increase the number of ungulates.
This myth emphasizes ignorance of hunters. In 1985 a monograph was published in Moscow. DI. Bibikov “Wolf”, in which the scientist proved that the destruction of wolves leads only to a short-term increase in the number of moose and deer. Soon, their number begins to decrease sharply. Nature also includes mechanisms of regulation, a decrease in the number of ungulate deaths from wolves leads to an increase in mortality from worms and other diseases. In science, it even got the name “compensation of mortality factors”. This phenomenon was mentioned back in 1946 by the well-known environmentalist P. Effington in the West. The death of animals from claws of predators will inevitably be replaced by other natural causes. By the way, many cases are known when the population of ungulates grew even with a high number of wolves.
Wolves are very harmful to farm animals.
It is not clear, as one might say, about this, if there is not really developed a methodology for calculating this very damage. Mentioned already DI Bibikov wrote: “It should be noted that the data on the harm caused by the wolf to livestock are not always reliable because of the lack of special accounting (…), especially for deer and sheep.” In the environment of zoologists, the article of the Soviet scientist N.Zheleznov, written by him in 1978, is already a classic article. The author on the example of the Magadan region proved that only 8-12% of animals die from wolves themselves, and the rest – banal postscript. An anecdotal case occurred with the Ukrainian wolf advocate Yuri Vassidlov, who, after carrying out sociological observations in the Carpathians, came to the conclusion that local predators raise only insured animals. Thus, it is obvious that people often try to write off missing heads of cattle for wolves.
Wolves hunt for people, terrorizing literally the whole country.
The truth is the fact that a rabid-sick wolf can bite a person. For a year of such cases in Ukraine is typed up to two tens. But there were no cases of eating people. In fact, a big danger for humans are dogs, especially fighting breeds. For example, in Lviv in 2005, 471 people suffered, and in 2000 – about 600. In Moscow, about 30 thousand people turn to help from bites of dogs annually. But after all, no one calls to shoot fighters. Thousands of people die on the roads, millions suffer from alcohol and tobacco. But it would be foolish to ban cars, and alcohol and cigarettes are also widely advertised.
The more wolves are destroyed, the less they will remain.
This delusion is very dangerous. Let’s remember about self-regulation. When exterminating gray predators, animals include appropriate mechanisms. And then the birth rate of wolves increases, among the puppies, more new females appear. The half-destroyed flocks no longer have a dominant wolf, self-regulation is broken, and nothing prevents the females from giving birth again and again. Instead of normal flocks, groups are formed that include alien young animals, as well as stray dogs and hybrids, which only increases predation. In such situations, there is the emergence of specialized predators, attacking, for example, only on domestic animals. So it turns out that when wolves are destroyed, people involuntarily increase their numbers and damage.
Wolves are useless animals.
In fact, wolves are an important element of the biosystem. In winter, when most of the animals are starving, it is he, the remains of the hunt, feeding dozens of species of small animals and birds. Among the “customers” are eagles, owls, tits, etc.About 10% of the ration of the wolf is made up of rodents, eating them, the predator thus brings great benefits to agriculture. It is common knowledge that the wolf is a “sanitary officer”. Eating sick and weak animals, it cleans the population, providing a place for new healthy individuals. In the Khopersky Reserve in 1976, wolves killed 13 deer, and they all had physical defects. In the Leningrad region in the 70’s found that predators killed mainly moose, already injured after hunting. Dr. Bibikov proved that ungulates infected wolves are destroyed by wolves in the first place. Therefore, when observing a certain number of roe deer, moose and deer, trapped by gray hunters, it should be taken into account that these are mainly diseased individuals that would sooner die of diseases, worms or old age. In addition, the wolf as it were “trains” the animals, forcing them to constantly move, which is very important from an evolutionary point of view.
No one needs a wolf’s skin.
It would seem that hunters pursue the wolf only from the sporting interest or the good motives of purifying nature from an allegedly unnecessary predator. However, most people pursue a self-interested interest. From the skin of a wolf make carpets, garments (mittens, hats). Prices are calculated in hundreds of dollars. And if in the West the extermination of wolves is forbidden, then in Ukraine hunters even receive bonuses and free patrons.
A wolf can grow a human child.
There are many cases in nature where animals of one species grew other people’s cubs, obviously confusing them with their own. The story of the education of wolves by the human cub is set forth in the famous book of R. Kipling Mowgli. However, is there a similar situation in real life? The most famous case is the story of Indian girls Amala and her sisters Kamala, who since childhood were brought up by wolves in the jungle. Unlike Mowgli, they could not bring children back to human society. At first they refused clothes and howled at night, as if calling their relatives to help. Walking fully on two legs the children could not, long accustomed to human food. The intellect of them remained forever at the level of a three-year-old child.
Wolves do not have their own language.
The activity of these animals in the flock is possible only in the developed language of communication. During the long struggle for the existence of wolves, mechanisms for receiving and transmitting information have been worked out. The basis of their language is howling – the main element of sound alarm. It is interesting that communication through howling is inherent only in wolves. In Russia, none of the major predators do not use such a tool. Some breeds of hyenas in Africa use also unpleasant laughter, but according to morphological signs and by schooling methods of hunting these animals are just like wolves. It is noteworthy that the language of wolves has little to do with the language of the domestic dog. Our pets often bark and rarely howl, and even then it is monotonous. The adult wolf behaves on the contrary – its main tool.
Wolves do not eat their own kind.
I would like to believe in the nobility of these animals. But this is not true. In relation to the weak and sick kindred wolves are quite cruel – they are destroyed, and in a hungry time they can eat. It is not accidental that individuals who feel useless to the pack themselves leave it. Hence, wolf-loners appear, which keep at a distance from their relatives, feeding on scraps.
Wolves are bad parents.
Despite the ruthlessness towards weak members of the pack, in relation to healthy, and even more so to their females, wolves are very attentive and even affectionate. For a pregnant friend, a male lovingly arranges a lair. Usually 4-6 cubs are born. The first half a month the female does not leave them anywhere, and the male wears the food. The father is very caring, taking part in feeding with his mother. Later, the wolf teaches young puppies all the wisdoms of life and hunting. At the same time the father is extremely patient. Punish the puppies exclusively for the cause, while the parents are not averse to playing with the young growth themselves.