The Connection between Humans and Wolves: Why Wolves Matter

Photo by Monty Sloan on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED

Throughout the history of humanity, we have often looked at our relationship with wild animals as us vs. them.

This has never been truer than with our perception of wolves.

It began as an issue of survival, when losing sheep meant starvation and the sound of wolves howling at night meant danger.

They hunted the same prey that we did, they predated on our livestock, and they posed a threat to our safety.

We decided that the country wasn’t big enough for both of us, so we systematically eradicated them throughout the country.

Since that time, the situation has changed.

In modern time, the war with wolves has lost logical explanations and has become more political and emotional.

The issue of wolf management has become polarized to the extent that the debate is largely controlled by the two extremes – those who love wolves and want them protected and those who hate them and want them gone.

But whether we love wolves or hate them, we tend to have very strong feelings one way or the other. For some reason, wolves make us care – more so than just about any other species.

Maybe it’s because they are so similar to us. Their highly social behavior, strong familial bonds, and clear show of individual personality make it easy to draw parallels between our species.

Photo by Yannick Menard on Unsplash

But it’s more than that. There are many other intelligent animals that don’t cause nearly as much division and conflict.

We feel a connection to these animals that we don’t always understand. It’s like we were born with an innate love or a hatred toward them that reason and facts cannot change.

This is exactly why they are so important.

Somewhere along the span of our evolution, we transitioned from coexisting with nature to conquering it. We lost our connection to the natural world.  

Now, most people are so removed from nature in their everyday lives that it rarely even crosses their mind.

In fact, apart from the occasional vacation to a national park, the average person is unlikely to ever experience true wilderness in their lives.

Perhaps this is one reason that our wild areas and the animals in them are disappearing and there aren’t enough people willing to do something about it.

Photo by Brianna R. on Unsplash

It takes a truly special piece of nature – the most beautiful mountain, the biggest waterfall, the wildest predator – to inspire emotions and a desire to protect it.

The wolf does this and will continue to do so for as long as we allow it to remain on the landscape.

In a time when we are losing our natural resources, we need more people to be inspired to protect the wild places and animals that remain.

References

https://extension.unh.edu/sites/default/files/migrated_unmanaged_files/Resource007361_Rep10598.pdf

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1044940/full

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1745691616662473#body-ref-bibr40-1745691616662473

https://spssi.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1994.tb02424.x

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/00139169921972056

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