There are some pretty scary wolves in my forthcoming novel Season of the Wolf (DarkFuse, Feb 2013--check out the substantial excerpt here). Without giving away any plot twists, I think it's safe to say that you're not likely to meet these wolves in your neighborhood. Most of us would be lucky to see any wolf in the wild, anywhere in the country.
Wolves are smart, social animals. They live near the top of their food chain, and -- like bears and tigers and sharks -- they have no interest in ceding that position to us. Yes, they sometimes kill livestock, and that's unfortunate for ranchers (who are often, though not always, reimbursed for those losses) and sometimes they kill pets. And yes, on some occasions throughout history, they've killed or injured human beings, as well.
But within their ecosystems, they're vital components. Every food chain has something at the top. It's the balance that keeps the ecosystem healthy. Cutting out the top of the chain just leaves something else at the top, but if that something is not as efficient a predator--if the balance isn't maintained--the whole system suffers.
Wildlife officials in Washington don't seem to get that. They've stripped Wyoming's wolves of protection under the Endangered Species Act. And state officials in Wyoming have responded by creating a "management" plan that allows for anyone to kill any wolf at any time, over 85% of the state.
Since wolves were nearly wiped out of existence in the lower 48, heroic efforts have done much to restore them to their rightful habitat. But their presence is still precarious, and is made more so by the combined actions of the Interior Department and the state.
The conservation group Defenders of Wildlife is filing a lawsuit to restore ESA protections. You can read more about it here (and learn how you can help).
And the Natural Resources Defense Counsel is collecting messages to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (who hails from Colorado, where Season of the Wolf takes place), demanding that he relist gray wolves. You can sign on here.
(Photo borrowed from NRDC)
Both of these organizations have information about other threats to our remaining wolf populations. Gray wolves in the Rocky Mountains are of particular note in the novel, but around the country, various wolves are threatened or are trying hard to reestablish a foothold on their former ranges. They could all use our help.
Scary wolves are fine in fiction. In the real world, wolves are necessary. Let's try to keep what we've got.