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Posts Tagged ‘German wolf’

A German wolf trap

german wolf trap

This image comes from Foreign Field Sports (1819) by Matthew Dubourg, Edward Orne, John Heaviside Clark, and Samuel Howitt.

I wish a better description had been provided for how it worked, but it appears to have worked like a baited Conibear trap:

This method of destroying the voracious Wolves of Germany is so simple, and so clearly illustrated by the Plate, that any description is superfluous. The same kind of instrument is baited for other wild animals, and their sagacity cannot avoid the destruction thus prepared for them (pg. 23).

My guess is that you wouldn’t want dogs running where these traps were set, just as it is not a good idea to let dogs run where large Conibears are set for bobcats and lynx.

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Wolves attacking an aurochs by Heinrich Harder. Such scenes would have been common in German forests, where both wolves and aurochsen once roamed. The wolf is now making a comeback to Germany, but the European aurochs, the ancestor of the domestic taurine cattle, is now extinct.

From The Telegraph:

One hundred years since hunting nearly wiped wolves out in Germany, they are moving out from their last bastion in the forests on the Polish border.

While 11 years ago there was one pack, there are now 12, and the return of the wolf to all of Germany, said Professor Beata Jessel, head of Germany’s Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, is now “unstoppable”.

The two-year study by the agency has surprised experts by revealing that far from requiring vast forests, the grey wolf has started to adapt to the modern environment.

“Wolves do not need wilderness, rather they can rapidly spread in our landscape and fit into the most varied habitats,” said Prof Jessel in an interview with the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

GPS tracking of one female wolf revealed that she built her lair just 500 metres from a busy road and raised her young undisturbed by the traffic.

Two packs, comprising 18 animals all together, now live just 40 miles from Berlin.

“One should thus be prepared for the appearance of wolves across Germany, and use management plans to establish the most conflict-free relations between people and wolves as is possible,” the professor added.

The study also showed the huge distances wolves can travel. One male animal, called Alan by researchers, travelled the 963 miles to Belarus in two months, crossing countless main roads and swimming the Oder and Vistula rivers. This tendency to wander, wolf specialists say, should aid the spread of wolves across Germany.

But canis lupis [sic] also face dangers.

Wolves have struggled to shed a reputation forged in centuries of folklore and stories that casts them as sinister and ruthless killers, prepared to hunt down man or beast. This has made them a target for hunters.

Official figures put the total of illegally shot wolves since 1990 at 13 but experts believe the true figure is much higher owing to hunters hiding the carcases.

Road accidents also inflict an annual toll on the population with 17 reported deaths since 2000.

If wolves can thrive and recolonize a country as densely populated as Germany, they will have virtually no problem recolonizing much of the United States.

Wolves will live near people.

However, that can cause problems. Wolves normally don’t consider people prey, but they will kill dogs over territorial disputes.

And it’s a myth that don’t kill livestock.

This means that Germany will eventually have to develop a problem wolf management plan. The country and its state governments should be working on these plans now.

Wolves are intelligent animals. It’s very dangerous to make too many generalizations about them. Some wolves can be quite bad about killing livestock and dogs, while others never bother stock at all. And there are some that try to join up with domestic dogs as social partners

After all, it wasn’t too many years ago that I read that wolves were incapable of living near human settlements or agricultural enterprises.

This simply isn’t so.

My guess is the majority of the German people are excited to have wolves back. This is, after all, the country with one of the most successful Green Parties in history.  It’s been so successful that even the two major ruling parties in the country know they must please a Green constituency. It’s as important to their political economy as labor unions and business lobbies.

My own ancestors likely joined in some of the slaughter of German wolves. It’s good to see that their error is finally being corrected.

 

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