Historical wolf persecution

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La Striata
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Historical wolf persecution

Post by La Striata » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:05 am

How did the near extermination of wolves in North America differ in scope and method from that undertaken in Europe?
I cannot see that wolves are in any way nobler in character than hyenas- Frederick Selous

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roguemoon
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Re: Historical wolf persecution

Post by roguemoon » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:34 pm

The main difference between the NA and European wolf persecution is the sheer intensity of how wolves were killed.

In Europe (referring mostly to Britain and France, where many of the first North American settlers arrived from), wolves were hunted mostly by farmers to keep them from killing livestock. Wealthy men of high status also partook in wolf hunts since it was seen as a symbol of power and providence. But you didn't really get paid for killing wolves, and they weren't killed in mass amounts.

When settlers came to North America, the government encouraged mass-hunting of wolves via anti-wolf propaganda and offering bounties for killing wolves. The idea was to make farm and ranchland predator free, since back then wolves were viewed pretty much as pests. They also thought removing a top predator would make trapping more profitable.
Like I said, you didn't get paid for killing wolves in Europe so people picked up on this pretty quick. NA wolves were numerous and not yet accustomed to humans, so hunting them wasn't hard at first. Wolfers developed pretty cruel techniques to make mass culling even easier- traps, snares, poison, burning or gassing dens, etc. A common method was to trap a pup or other packmate and use it's cries to lure the rest of the pack out to be shot.
Wolves were pretty much hunted to near extinction in the US within a few years. Canada was not much better. Not only were wolves eliminated by the thousands, they were often tortured for fun before being killed. Wolf hunting back then was pretty brutal. Men took a lot of pride in how many wolves they killed and how cruelly they were killed, it sort of became a sick game among wolfers. Unfortunately, a lot of the historic anti-wolf hysteria and the cruel methods used to kill them are still rampant today. It was really only recently (wolves weren't even reintroduced to Yellowstone until 1995) that efforts to re-establish wolf populations were put in place after all.

Once I'm not feeling extremely sick I will be sure to add some sources and articles where you can learn a little more. But I hope this gives you a bit of an idea.
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