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MI: Outdoors: Setting the record straight on wolves

By Rick Taylor
Special Writer

It’s July 3 and I turned on the History Channel and watched an excerpt of “Mountain Men”. The show discusses the lives of three different men who live off the land in the Alaskan, Kentucky and Montana mountain ranges.

One of the men in this show talked about his fear of the timber wolf and how he didn’t want to die from a possible wolf attack.

This stereotype of wolves is nothing new, yet I find it profoundly frustrating every time I hear how someone’s “afraid to get eaten by a wolf.”

Let’s be honest, most people are scared to death of wolves and that has lead to their demise in many parts of North America over a century ago.

So, I’d like to set the record straight on the number of humans killed by wolves. Perhaps you too might get frustrated once you know the facts.

There are a total of 2 humans killed by wolves in the USA (including Alaska) in recorded history. That’s right, I said recorded history-period.

The last human killed was a 32 year old woman in Alaska in 2010. She was the first person killed by a wolf in Alaska-ever.

I find it repugnant that The History Channel, The Discovery Channel and other media sources ignore facts and allow this misinformation to by promoted to the unsuspecting public for the sake of ratings. I find it impossible to believe that these shows don’t have the resources to fact check this stuff first.

That doesn’t mean that wolves aren’t a pain to deal with. Ranchers in the western states absolutely hate wolves with a passion. I’ve seen bumper stickers say: “Want to save a hundred elk? Then kill one wolf!” I’m not condoning this sentiment but rather, letting you know the difference of opinions that are out there.

The reintroduction of wolves throughout the country including Michigan’s Upper Penninsula has sparked debate among those on both sides of the political isle. But, that’s not the issue here today.

I believe that people should have the facts and that’s the whole point of this article.

There’s another animal out there that is known to be the cute and cuddly. I’m talking about the Hippo.

The sobering truth is that Hippos kill more people in Africa every year than any other animal-including the lion, leopard and God knows what else. The funny thing is that wolves get a bad reputation yet the hippo is beloved; the hippo even has its own Christmas song.

So, why does a hunter like me want you to know this stuff? Because; the more you understand wildlife behavior the more you’ll understand nature as a whole.

By the way, mosquitos kill more people on this earth (5,000,000) than any other animal through the transmission of malaria.

L. David Mech is a leading wildlife biologist who has spent decades immersed with wolves for scientific study. Check out his website to learn more at