Monday, October 20, 2008
I thought I'd wrap up National Wolf Awareness Week with a tribute to a domesticated canine that I came to know so very long ago (as my true thanks would have to go to the wolf, for without the wolf, I would have never known the love of a dog). That dog is responsible for my lifelong love and concern of all canines everywhere and forever.
Being an only child, my first "true blue" childhood friend was a dog. Not just any dog, either. A stray dog who later would be known as "Brownie" by me and my family. We never knew much about Brownie, only that a brown stray dog that was running the neighborhood streets had one day wandered up into the yard where I was playing. From there, this dog befriended me. My family never took Brownie in. Regrettably, he remained a stray who visited me often. His love and devotion to me was quite apparent, and I only recently learned that Brownie was taken to a farm outside the city because he had become "over-protective" of me. I never knew that about him, and it deeply saddened me - even now, so many years later - that we were separated because of his love and devotion to me. I was afterall a toddler and an only child, and who the heck knows? Maybe I needed protection. I know that I certainly needed a friend, and Brownie was definitely that. And more. For the better part of my life, I wanted a dog (my mom was always a "cat person" so we never had a dog when I was growing up - - Brownie was my first canine experience). My wanting of a dog has never stopped, even though I've now had a few. I never realized until the day that my mom told me this story why I have been so involved with dogs nor did I ever understand why there always seemed to be some void I was trying to fill. Life is just not the same, and it is true that a house just isn't a home without a dog to share it with.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
See the preview here: http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=5969585
Shaun Ellis is the "wolf man" I mention here. He is a British wolf behavior expert. He is based at Combe Martin Wildlife Park in North Devon, England, where he manages a resident wolf pack and observes them. This is where Shaun Ellis was able to realize his lifelong dream of raising wild wolf cubs. Three wolf cubs who were abandoned at birth became his charges. Over the course of 18 months, he lived with and interacted with them. After that time, he introduced them to the resident wolf pack of Combe Martin Wildlife Park. Until the introduction, he had served as alpha male. As alpha male, he had to teach them how to be wolves, how to howl, etc. The research of the "wolf man" includes living in a trailer on the outskirts of the wolf pack's home and becoming a member of their pack. He is of the belief that living as closely as possible to wolves is the best way to understand them. While living among the wolves, he takes on all of their behavior to include growling, howling, licking and even snarling. He eats with them.
The "wolf man" has always had an interest in all wild things. Born and raised in Norfolk, England, he lived on an isolated farm enveloped by the woods. Shaun Ellis trained as a gamekeeper but then left that position once it was discovered by Ellis' supervisor that Ellis intended to release animals who had been gathered into the countryside. There would be many jobs to follow; however, Shaun Ellis never gave up his lifelong dream to study wolves and in particular, to study the Yellowstone National Park wolves. After some service in the Army, Ellis was able to save up enough money to cover the costs associated with making the trip to pursue his dream. Once there, Ellis spent the next seven years on an Idaho Indian reservation with the Nez Perce Indians. The Nez Perce Indians taught Shaun Ellis how to properly observe wolves in the wild. Each night, Shaun Ellis would record wild wolf howls coming from the woods and then study them the next day. After recording and playing back wolf howls repeatedly, Ellis began to able to distinguish individual pack members. Shaun Ellis began to understand that wolves are highly intelligent and highly instinctive animals who give trust and balance abundantly within the pack's social order. It is these characteristics that many humans fail to acknowledge, do not know, or simply misunderstand about the wolf.
Shaun Ellis filmed a series for Animal Planet that gives us a look into his world of wolf observation. The series is entitled "Living with the Wolf Man" and lets us see how he introduced and eventually integrated Helen Jeffs (girlfriend) into the pack. Together, they are promoting awareness of wolf behavior and conservation.
The National Geographic Channel has also featured a Shaun Ellis documentary entitled "A Man Among Wolves".
Given that 20/20 will be featuring this amazing couple this Friday, I am relieved to know that everyone watching will finally to get to hear something from someone who is not only pro-wolf but someone who is pro-wolf because he has studied wolves up close and personally. Shaun Ellis' firsthand, ground-breaking experience with wolves makes him a valuable source of information and much-needed advocate for our wolves. This very important work that Ellis and Jeffs are doing is so necessary - even timely - given the plight of the wolf and all of the voices of fear and hatred aimed at wolves out there. So much of the anti-wolf campaign is being driven by people who lack education, knowledge, and experience. We need more voices like Ellis and Jeffs, and I want to thank Shaun Ellis and Helen Jeffs for all that they have done and are doing to Save The Wolves Now!
Some of you have been asking about and looking for the picture of Sarah Palin's parents' living room. I have posted it above for you. From the looks of it, animal slaughter just runs in the family.
"What is Troopergate, as it relates to Sarah Palin?", some may ask. I know that I wondered. Fortunately, for this blog at this time, officials have concluded their investigation so I can give you the complete rundown on it - - from start to finish.
"It is important for a governor to take on the responsibility of making sure that everybody in her cabinet is in the right place at the right time to best serve the public," Palin said. "I dismissed a cabinet member because he wasn't the right person at the right time in his position -- dismissed him having nothing to do with telling him to hire or fire anybody else."
Friday, October 17, 2008
Dogs and Wolves - - How Different Are They From Each Other?
For fun today but also to provoke some deep thought, I wanted to post a fable here to help you to consider the relationship between the wild and wonderful wolf and our domesticated canine friend also known as "man's best friend", the dog.
The Dog and the Wolf (Aesop Fable)
A gaunt Wolf was almost dead with hunger when he happened to meet a House-dog who was passing by. "Ah, Cousin," said the Dog. "I knew how it would be; your irregular life will soon be the ruin of you. Why do you not work steadily as I do, and get your food regularly given to you?"
"I would have no objection," said the Wolf, "if I could only get a place."
"I will easily arrange that for you," said the Dog "come with me to my master, and you shall share my work."
So the Wolf and the Dog went towards the town together. On the way there the Wolf noticed that the hair on a certain part of the Dog's neck was very much worn away, so he asked him how that had come about.
"Oh, it is nothing," said the Dog. "That is only the place where the collar is put on at night to keep me chained up; it chafes a bit, but one soon gets used to it."
"Is that all?" said the Wolf. "Then good-bye to you, Master Dog."
Better starve free than be a fat slave.
So, our wolves run free. They live free.
When you think about it, wolves are not so different from our dogs. Our dogs have evolved several generations; therefore, their behaviors have evolved. We can keep them as pets. However, how far apart is the divide between dogs and wolves?
If we keep our dogs outside and do not let them share our homes, they will roam and eventually meet up with other dogs who roam free. If we do not provide a meal to our canine companions, they will hunt for their survival. Dogs who are introduced to these conditions will begin to run free together, hunt together, and eat together. They will create a pack. They will establish hierarchy in their pack. They will begin to lose their socialization with humans and become skiddish and afraid of us. They may even attempt to bite the hand that reaches for them or charge the person who corners them.
Statistics reflect that a dog that isn't properly "socialized" (such as tied out in the yard to a tree or kept behind a fence in the backyard and ignored) is more likely to bite a human due to fear of humans.
In the dog world, we also talk about "prey instinct" or "prey drive". Some dogs are more likely to chase than others are. You know the dog that I speak of. We have all known at least one. When outside, they notice everything around them and give chase if a bird, squirrel, or even a cat is spotted. Is this a trait specific to our dog companions? Certainly not. This is their heritage as descendants of the wolf.
Unfortunately, because we expect dogs to be domesticated, we have higher expectations of them. When an ordinary dog exhibits any of its natural, innate behaviors on a full-time basis, some call them "feral", others call them "stray", and when these dogs are trapped because they are running free in packs, they then beome "shelter dogs". If their "wolf" like behaviors persist, we call them "unadoptable". If we feel sorry for them and take them into our homes and try to keep them there, they become known as "bad dog".
But the canines that we have come to accept as behaving that way and living outdoors for centuries now - but not without its problems - we call the wolf.
So, what is the difference between our dogs and wolves? Not a whole lot with the exception of we take dogs into our homes, care for them, and provide for them. We give them a place in our hearts.
So, why not the wolf? Let's give the wolf a place in our hearts so that we can Save The Wolves Now!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
What exactly is it? What does it mean? Why all the controversy?
Reintroduction of wolves involves re-establishment of a population of wolves into areas where they had been previously extirpated, but this re-establishment is by artificial means. Reintroduction of wolves is only possible and can only be considered where there are large tracts of wilderness still existing. The other consideration would be this land has to have proper prey and enough of it to support the wolves in the reintroduction program.
In 1995, after many years of consideration, gray wolves were finally reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. They were also reintroduced to Idaho. The program was a success.
This has been a hot topic. Wolf reintroduction has strong advocates on both sides of the argument. Both those who support it and those who oppose it are very passionate about it. Wolf reintroduction has been considered for other places in the United States and even in various European countries. The battle concerning reintroduction has turned urban residents against those who reside in more rural areas. Of course, the rural residents tend to oppose it due to concerns for their livestock.
The good news here is that over the past several decades,there seems to be a change of attitude toward wolf reintroduction. The bad news is that those who oppose wolf reintroduction represent the majority on the issue.
We who love wolves and support their preservation and protection need to stand up and start being heard and counted so that we can Save The Wolves Now!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
We cannot discuss the wolf's territory or habitat without mentioning the matter at hand: Illegal killing of wolves threatens its future, and they are quickly losing territory to humans. Human encroachment - in addition to fear and hatred - into territories where wolves live is the leading threat to wolf survival. Not only do wolves require large areas of habitat that is green and with an abundant source of food and water, they also need humans to stop hunting, trapping, and slaughtering them like they (wolves) are savage beasts (we already know that humans can - and often do - behave as savage beasts - - think aerial hunting of wolves).
Forests, deserts, plains, mountains, and even the tundra need to be welcome - and safe - places for wolves.
Another place we need to be able to see wolves thriving is in our national parks. Wolves have been found in the following national parks:
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Noatak National Preserve, Alaska
Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Glacier National Park, Montana
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Grant Teton National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Naturally, if you are an avid reader on the subject matter and controversy surrounding wolf preservation, its status when it comes to the Endangered Species Act, and its reintroduction into national parks, the above list naturally raises some concern - and with good reason.
My thoughts and concerns drift to how really safe are wolves in the national parks of Alaska, given how current Governor Palin feels about them (think $150 bounties to include severing of wolf paws/forelegs). From there, my mind wanders to the current - and past - controversy surrounding wolves in Yellowstone - - from their removal decades ago to wolf reintroduction in 1995 to the now current controversy/battle to keep them there - - and to keep them protected and on the Endangered Species List, no matter where they are.
It is up to those of us who do not condone savagery and who still believe that we must protect all wildlife to ensure that the majestic wolf remains wild, free, and safe.
Please do what you can - and even attempt some things that you think that you cannot do - to honor wolves during National Wolf Awareness Week and long after this week to Save The Wolves Now!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Wolves are mammals (Mammals - "Any of various warm-blooded vertebrate animals of the class Mammalia, including humans, characterized by a covering of hair on the skin and, in the female, milk-producing mammary glands for nourishing the young")
Wolves are carnivores (Carnivore - "A predatory, flesh-eating animal") Sounds much worse than it is. You and I are canivores though we may choose not to eat meat. Your dog or cat is also a carnivore.
A wolf's lifespan in the wild is approximately 6 to 8 years (though that is becoming shorter due to trapping, aerial hunting, and poisoning).
Wolf measurements (for lack of a better term):
Tail is usually 13" to 20" (just over 1 foot to just under 2 feet long)
Weight is usually 40 to 175 pounds (A good number of us shared our childhood homes and now share our beds with dogs who weigh that much!)
A wolf group is known as a "pack"
Protection status: Endangered. (For now. Recently removed from the Endangered Species Act and most recently returned to the list - but for how long?)
Wolf Society, Culture, and Rules of the Pack
There are typically 6 to 10 wolves in a pack. They live, hunt, and travel - sometimes up to 12 miles in a single day - together. Wolves don't regularly "sit down" to a daily dinner or big catch; therefore, when they do eat, they do not often eat in moderation. One single wolf can consume up to 20 pounds in one sitting. Sometimes, a wolf has to opt out for a much smaller meal such as a bird, fish, lizard, snake, or even fruit.
There is a strict rule of hierarchy (chain of command) in every wolf pack. There is a dominant (alpha) male who has first rank, and his mate does not follow far behind him. This alpha pair are usually the only breeding pair in the pack.
Remember the popular phrase "It takes a village to raise a child"? Well, that concept is alive and well within the wolf pack. Each adult wolf helps take care of and rear the new wolf pups. This can range from bringing the pups food or keeping watch over them while others in the pack are away on a hunt. Just imagine how this attitude, if applied to our culture and society, could transform our lives today. Our children could play outdoors without our supervision once more. They could walk to and from school safely. There would be no more school or college massacres. There would be no more child abduction or sexual predators. The list goes on.
That is just one of the many reasons why I have always admired the wolf, its societal structure, and its adherence to civility. The more I learn about the wolf, the more that I wish that we humans would take some lessons from the wolf and its societal norms. The more that we humans are left to our own devices and fight to be free of societal "norms" and social mores, the more I can see an alarming role reversal between predatory animals and humans.
Many more of you out there share this sentiment, I know, and it is evidenced each and every time someone thinks or says "I like my dog (dogs) and trust my dog (dogs) more than I like / trust humans."
Without wolves, we would not have our trusted dog friends, and if our dogs could weigh in on the issue of wolf protection and conservation, they would tell us to Save The Wolves Now!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Defenders of Wildlife has exposed more of Palin's wolf-killing record. This time, the details are far more disturbing than anything up to now. Most likely, that is because this is a story that has been conveniently buried from the public. Read on, and you will see why:
Just this past June (2008), 14 adult wolves were chased and gunned down through the means of aerial hunting by Governor Palin’s Department of Fish and Game. Not only did this helicopter slaughter exhaust and kill adult wolves, but this kill resulted in the execution style kill of 14 orphaned wolf pups. They brutally shot each one in the head. This practice was in clear violation of state law. State law prohibits "denning" which is the practice of targeting wolf pups.
This bit of trivia has somehow escaped public attention. Understandable, given the nature and brutality of what happened. Clearly, Palin’s officials wouldn't release such goings-on to the public. Though there was a press release on June 30, 2008, made by the state of Alaska to the local press. Of course, no mention of the brutal pup executions was made. In fact, and worse yet, as of the time of writing this, none of the officials involved in the incident have been held accountable. Does Governor Palin promote the corrupt idea that those in government positions and those who make the laws can also break those laws?
I don't understand it. Governor Palin's roles as wife, mother, daughter and her accomplishments as a woman should make most women proud and be an example . . . and yet, there is this savagery playing out behind the scenes of your everyday "soccer mom" persona.
The election is upon us, but don't let the outcome of this election cause you to forget Governor Palin's wolf-killing (and wolf pup-killing) record. Yes, she could be just months away from the White House and even from the presidency, should dire circumstances take place in the future. However, regardless of the outcome of this election, Governor Palin needs to remain at the forefront of our minds as a serious threat to our wolves and wildlife overall.
Please support Defenders of Wildlife in their mission to spread the truth concerning Sarah Palin’s disgraceful record on aerial killing. Also, please be sure to take a look at their latest information TV ad / commercial concerning her heavily promoted and encouraged slaughter of wolves and their pups. I don't know about you, but I'd like to see aerial gunning done away with permanently, and I certainly want to see our wolves - and their pups - protected. At this link, there is a form available to assist you in forwarding the video to everyone you know.
In the final weeks of this very close election campaign, please remember that you can make a lasting impression and a powerful difference. And after the campaign, please don't forget that we need to Save the Wolves Now!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Hello Fellow Wolf Lovers! I have a special announcement.
National Wolf Awareness Week is upon us. Wolf Awareness Week begins on October 12 and runs through October 18, 2008. National Wolf Awareness Week is a week of events dedicated to dispelling misconceptions and teaching about the role predators play in maintaining biological diversity. Defenders of Wildlife will be sponsoring events nationwide to celebrate wolves. Be sure to check their website for more information. Hopefully, there is an event near you. Or how about organizing an event for yourself in an effort to raise awareness on the true nature and importance of the wolf?
Defenders of Wildlife encourages you to plan educational activities in your area. If you do, you can contact Nilanga Jayasinghe at Defenders, and they will post your event on their website.
This blog will feature daily facts concerning wolves in an effort to eliminate ideas and long-held beliefs that have caused people to villainize this beautiful and mystical creature. Please get involved. This is your chance to Save the Wolves Now!