Vicious Wolf Wars….

wolf dog grizzled

This is a look at the origins of wolf hatred from Nature Online and the systematic campaign to remove wolves from the lower forty-eight. This is an important story because the same entrenched, wolf-hating attitudes, are fueling the current wolf persecution, moving us down that long, dark path once more.

It merits repeating that for thousands of years Native Americans were able to live in harmony with wolves and bears, while settlers saw them as a threat.

Even the famed naturalist James Audubon partook in torturing wolves, which is particularly hard to understand.

From “Hating Wolves”

“In 1814, John James Audubon watched a farmer torture three wolves. The farmer had trapped them in a pit after they had killed his sheep and a colt. The man jumped into the pit armed only with a knife, hamstrung each wolf as they cowered in fear, and tied it up with a rope. Then he hauled them out one at a time and set his dogs on them as they scuffled crippled along the ground. Audubon was astounded by the meekness of the wolves and the glee with which the farmer went about his revenge, but he was not distressed. He and the farmer considered torturing wolves a “sport,” something both normal and enjoyable. The sadistic behavior did not warrant comment.”

Shocking isn’t it? The wolf has been demonized in American culture and paid dearly for these attitudes. For four hundred years wolves have been the target of pathological hatred.

The early European settlers brought their loathing of wolves with them and set out to kill everything that crossed their path, including the wolves prey base of deer, elk and buffalo, replacing them with the “new buffalo”, cattle. The wolves were left with few choices.

“Granted wolves killed livestock, but the reaction was out of all proportion to their predation. We didn’t merely kill them. We feed them fishhooks so they would die of internal bleeding, we dragged them to death behind horses, we set live wolves on fire, we released trapped wolves with their mouths and penises wired shut.”

These horrific facts are documented in Jon Coleman’s book, “Vicious” Wolves and Men in America” and the word vicious doesn’t refer to wolves. The author is not shy about explaining why humans enjoyed torturing wolves.

“Some of their motives were comprehensible. But once they caught their animal foes, why did they beat, bait, torture and humiliate them? What explains the pleasure so many found in wolf abuse? One answer: human nature. They may smile, hug, rescue kittens, write thank you notes, and attend support groups, but people are vicious at the core.”….Jon Coleman, Vicious, Wolves and Men In America, 2004


From Nature Online:

The Wolf That Changed America
Wolf Wars: America’s Campaign to Eradicate the Wolf

Wolves have been feared, hated, and persecuted for hundreds of years in North America. Before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans incorporated wolves into their legends and rituals, portraying them as ferocious warriors in some traditions and thieving spirits in others. European Americans, however, simply despised wolves. Many, including celebrated painter and naturalist John James Audubon, believed wolves ought to be eradicated for the threat they posed to valuable livestock. This attitude enabled a centuries-long extermination campaign that nearly wiped out the gray wolf in the continental United States by 1950.

Origins of Wolf Hatred

In the New World, two top predators – wolves and men – that otherwise would have avoided each other clashed over livestock. In Vicious: Wolves and Men in America, Jon T. Coleman writes:

Wolves had a ghostly presence in colonial landscapes. Settlers heard howls, but they rarely spotted their serenaders. The fearsome beasts avoided humans. People frightened them, and colonists knew this: “They are fearefull Curres,” reported Thomas Morton in 1637, “and will runne away from a man (that meeteth them by chance at a banke end) as fast as any fearefull dogge.”

Because humans and wolves frightened one another, they logically avoided confrontation, opening space between the species. But that space closed when European colonists brought horses, cattle, sheep and pigs with them over the perilous journey across the Atlantic. Without these animals – sources of food and transportation for the European settlers – the colonies would have failed. But because most early colonial communities were small, livestock often grazed on the periphery of the settlements with little protection. Their pastures abutted and bled into the wild, exposing the animals to hungry wolves in search of prey. Wolves quickly learned that docile cattle and sheep made easy meals. Suddenly, colonists found their livelihoods in danger, and they lashed out at wolves, both with physical violence and folklore that ensured wolf hatred would be passed down from one generation to the next.

Amateur and Professional Wolf Baiting

The campaign to eradicate wolves in North America began with private landowners and farmers baiting and trapping wolves. Often, colonists turned wolf baiting into both sport and protection for their livestock. Jon T. Coleman describes an incident that took place in the winter of 1814 deep in the Ohio River Valley, in which John James Audubon assists a farmer as he mutilates trapped wolves.

During the fall, a pack of wolves had robbed [the farmer] of “nearly the whole of his sheep and one of his colts.” For him, it made sense to devote his winter labor to digging pits, weaving platforms, hunting bait, and setting and checking his traps twice daily. The animals had injured him, and “he was now ‘paying them off in full.’” Audubon’s reaction to the slaying of the wolves is less understandable … The ingenious pit traps amazed him, as did the fearsome predators’ meek behavior and the childlike glee the farmer took in his work. The violence Audubon witnessed, however, did not shock him. Watching a pack of dogs rip apart terrified and defenseless animals was a “sport” both he and the farmer found enjoyable.

Further west, in Yellowstone National Park, wolf baiting and hunting had become a lucrative profession. Paul Schullery, in his guidebook to Yellowstone wolves (The Yellowstone Wolf: A Guide & Sourcebook), describes the profession and the devastating affect it had on the Yellowstone wolf population: “At least as early as 1877, ungulate carcasses in the park were poisoned with strychnine by free-lance ‘wolfers’ for ‘wolf or wolverine bait.’ By 1880, [Yellowstone National Park] Superintendent [Philetus] Norris stated in his annual report that ‘…the value of their [wolves and coyotes] hides and their easy slaughter with strychnine-poisoned carcasses have nearly led to their extermination.’”

In the Southwest, as settlers depleted bison, elk, deer, and moose populations – the wolves’ natural prey – the predators turned more and more to picking off livestock. In states like New Mexico where cattle ranching was big business, ranchers responded by turning to professional wolfers and bounty hunters. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports, “To protect livestock, ranchers and government agencies began an eradication campaign. Bounty programs initiated in the 19th century continued as late as 1965, offering $20 to $50 per wolf. Wolves were trapped, shot, dug from their dens, and hunted with dogs. Poisoned animal carcasses were left out for wolves, a practice that also killed eagles, ravens, foxes, bears, and other animals that fed on the tainted carrion.”

Government-Sanctioned Wolf Extermination Programs   


Government Wolf Trapper

Towards the end of the 19th Century, wealthy livestock owners increased both their demand for wider grazing ranges and their influence over policymakers in Washington, D.C. In 1885, the federal government established the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey, initially chartered to research insects and birds. However, the livestock lobby quickly diverted the Bureau’s attention to wolves. Stockowners complained that their land was infested with wolves, calling them “breeding grounds.” They demanded the federal government secure their land for safe pasturage.

In 1906, the U.S. Forest Service acquiesced to the stockowners and enlisted the help of the Bureau of Biological Survey to clear cattle ranges of gray wolves. In other words, the Bureau became a wolf-extermination unit. Bruce Hampton writes in The Great American Wolf:

That same year [1906], bureau biologist Vernon Bailey traveled to Wyoming and New Mexico to investigate the extent of wolf and coyote depredations. Upon Bailey’s return to Washington, D.C., President Roosevelt invited him to the White House to see what he had learned. Although there is no record of their conversation, immediately following Bailey’s meeting the President, the Biological Survey recommended that the government begin “devising methods for the destruction of the animals [wolves].”

By the middle of the 20th Century, government-sponsored extermination had wiped out nearly all gray wolves in the Lower 48 states. Only a small population remained in northeastern Minnesota and Michigan. Yet the Bureau of Biological Survey was still disseminating anti-wolf propaganda as late as 1940. One poster from the time read:

According to estimates of stockmen [the Custer Wolf, pictured in the poster] killed $25,000 worth of cattle during the seven years he was known in the vicinity of Custer, South Dakota … A local bounty of $500 failed to secure his capture. A Department hunter ended his career of destruction by a skillfully set trap. Many notorious wolves are known to have killed cattle valued at $3000 to $5000 in a year. More than 3,849 wolves have been destroyed by the predatory animal work of the Department and its cooperators since the work was organized in 1915.

It was not until the late sixties, when a greater understanding of natural ecosystems began changing attitudes in the scientific community and the National Park Service, that the plight of wolves in North America began to improve.

In 1973, Congress gave gray wolves protection under the Endangered Species Act. According to Douglas Smith and Gary Ferguson, in Yellowstone National Park, where the last gray wolf was killed in 1926, “the entire [gray wolf] restoration program was guided by directives contained in the Endangered Species Act – a law created to ground a decades-old cornerstone of science that says the healthiest, most stable natural systems tend to be those with high levels of biodiversity.”

Since then, wolf populations throughout the country have increased. In 1995 and 1996, researchers in Yellowstone National Park released 31 Canadian gray wolves back into the wild. The event was hailed as a testament to the conservation movement’s efforts to revive wild wolf populations in America. Yet antiwolf attitudes persist. Shortly after the release of the Yellowstone wolves a hunter shot and killed Wolf Number 10. Smith and Ferguson write about the incident: “As disturbing as the shooting itself was, more unsavory still was the reaction of a handful of locals who cheered the killing, calling it an act of heroism.”

Photos © Arizona Historical Society


Coleman, Jon T. Vicious: Wolves and Men in America. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2004.

Hampton, Bruce. The Great American Wolf. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1997.

Robinson, Michael J. Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West. University Press of Colorado, 2005.

Schullery, Paul. The Yellowstone Wolf: A Guide & Sourcebook. Worland, Wymoning: High Plains Publishing Company, Inc., 1996.

Smith, Douglas W. and Gary Ferguson. Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone. Guilford, Connecticut: The Lyons Press, 2005.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Gray Wolf Fact Sheet. [updated January 2007; cited November 2008]

Photos: “The Wolf That Changed America: Courtesy PBS, Nature Online

Posted in: Wolf  Wars

Tags:  gray wolf persecution, wolf torture, wolf extermination

Published in: on October 7, 2010 at 11:22 pm  Comments (26)  
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26 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nabeki- I appreciate all this information that shows how evil people have been and continue to be today. I am almost afraid to purchase this book by Coleman. I told you before the picture of the two wolves on page 46 of Predatory Bureaucracy still haunt me.


    • William, I know that photo very well and it still haunts me. I can’t find it on the internet. Charles F. Martin took the photo. It was from the National Livestock Association, 1899. If you can find it online, I’ll post it. The love and fear of these two wolves, waiting the most horrific fate I can imagine, stays with me. I think of it often and my only comfort is knowing their pain is over. (With tears streaming down my face),

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


      • One thing that hasn’t changed is the almost pathological sadistic hatred that these idiots have for this animal. Karma is a bitch, and this poacher scumbag Mayer hopefully will lose the one thing that he cares about- his hunting privledges. What a stupid idiot- they go on these blogs and brag to each other to show how manly they are


      • Not only that William, I bet it’s the grandchildren of the same people that are pushing the wolf hatred.



    • I know William, I hate reading this stuff myself but I’m going to continue to put it out there because people need to know the truth about the brutally wolves suffered and died under. I still can’t get that picture of those poor wolves out of my head. I can’t imagine what they suffered. Just horrible.



      • It’s a good thing to keep track of what these wolf haters are saying. Wolf watch 2 on facebook is run by extreme wolf hater scott rockholm these idiots stop by Idaho fish and game’s facebook every day and spam it with their wolf hatred. It’s like a sick obsession on their part and all they want is wolves dead and it’s disgusting and sick! Another sicko by the name of Bruce Hemming said that the poacher who shot the wolf in Oregon is an american hero. I am now convinced that MOST hunters hate a deep hatred for predators.


  2. I don’t know if you can put that picture up on your website, it is heartbreaking


  3. William,I know what you mean by pictures haunting you,I have plenty of my own.Maybe,it should be posted,so people know the horror if it all.It is up to Nabeki.I know Saveanelk likes to show their pitures to promote their agenda.People like to stay in their comfort zones and don’t want to see things that are unpleasant or not the outcome they wanted or would like to see.It’s hard to face the truth.People,in this day and age,still do not spay or neuter their cats and dogs.One excuse is they want to show their children the beauty of birth/life,but as one shelter worker that has to take care of incoming flow of kittens and puppies says as she has to euthanize them,”if people could only see the other side of the picture”.We spare ourselves the sight.


  4. Nabeki, William and everyone. I simply do not know what to say. The ignorance and hatred directed at wolves for hundreds of years is heartbreaking almost to the point I cannot bear it. And when you think of the ties to the Native Americans and how we “invaders” of their country (settlers seems a much too civilized word for what amounts to nothing but sheer rape and abuse of the land and its people and wildlife)the heartbreak is that much more. The feeling in my soul is the same as I felt after reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee so many years ago. It is simply numbing at this point, which is a good thing because I am at work. Later will come the tears that will be hard to stop.


    • It is so heartbreaking SCWG, I don’t think the general public has any idea how these wolves suffered. I also read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. What a terrible tragedy. I have no idea why people are this cruel but I have to go with what Coleman wrote about humans, that we have an inborn vicious nature. Not all humans but many of them.



  5. John James Audobon a sadistic torturer of wolves…now worshipped as a wildlife savior and hero…its kinda like the twisted/sadistic/perverted walt disney now worshipped for wonderful kids movies and the miraculous disneyland… the white man always was the most disgusting creature to ever live on the surface of this earth, and i am white(though native at heart)! these people killing wolfs today are no differnt than their ancestors who killed native americans for sport…infact did u guys see the story about u.s. troops killing native afgan civilians for sport.


    • Yes,Blake I did hear about the U.S.troops killing the native afgan natives.I fear man and what man is capable of doing.


    • There is a section in the Scully book “Dominion” which depicted Teddy Roosevelt as a sadistic pathological hunter, where no animal was safe. He would kill Ostrich sitting on their eggs, elephants, lions, tigers


      • William, I always thought as Teddy was a piece of crap. Some would call him a conservationist, but I see him in a whole other light. I see him as a typical hunters who claims he loved wildlife when infact he didn’t, he loved killing wildlife. John Muir was a real conservationist and he tried to tell Teddy to stop hunting, but Teddy never did. Teddy did not care for animals. He was known to shoot tigers and lions and other animals for sport.


      • Jon I haven’t forgotten about the bears, it’s that so much is going on but I will post on them soon.



      • Teddy Roosevelt could have been a member of the Safari Club. They had a twisted definition of conservationist in that era.



  6. That wanton killing still exists in Alaska, the words “National Park” is nothing more than wasted paint there. Its disgusting.


    • They should call any space in Alaska just,The Killing Fields.


    • They disgust me. We should be boycotting that state until they change their ways.



  7. We need to stop this from happening. Start emailing people!

    Alaska moves toward legalized bear trapping
    Associated Press | Posted: Friday, October 8, 2010 4:39 pm | No Comments Posted
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    Alaska wildlife managers say they need help: A growing number of black bears are roaming the state, chowing down on too many caribou and moose and leaving too few for humans to eat.
    So the state is poised for the first time to legalize the trapping of black bears.
    Critics call the plan cruel: Bears are lured with buckets of raw meat and their paws are snared when they reach inside. Sometimes, bears end up chewing off a foot to get free.
    “What is going to happen when the world looks at the barbaric management techniques that the state of Alaska has regressed to? We don’t need that,” said Wade Willis, an ex-wildlife worker-turned-agency watchdog.
    Under the proposed regulations, any black bear, including sows and cubs, could be legally trapped.
    The Alaska Board of Game, which sets hunting regulations, met Friday to begin debate and will likely delay a decision until next month to allow for public comment.
    If approved, it would be the first time since statehood in 1959 that bears could be legally trapped by anyone with a license.
    Maine is the only other state that allows bear trapping. About 75 black bears are trapped in the state each year, according to Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game, which is pushing for the legalized trapping.
    Fish and Game estimates that there are about 100,000 black bears in Alaska. It has not said how many should be killed.
    But officials say the snaring will help trim a growing force of the bears that are feasting on moose and caribou calves, and making a nuisance of themselves as they forage for food near fish camps in western Alaska.
    Residents in the remote sections of the state can live hundreds of miles from the nearest grocery store, and end up having too few caribou and moose to harvest for food on their tables and meat for their freezers.
    Officials are proposing to legalize trapping in six large, mostly interior areas.
    The method being proposed is a bucket snare _ usually a 5-gallon plastic bucket with a cable and locking device designed to catch a bear by the foot. The buckets would be mounted at least 36 inches off the ground and be anchored to a tree.
    Trappers would be required to check the buckets at least every couple of days to see if a bear was snared and kill it.
    Willis said bears sometimes go to great lengths to free themselves. “Not only will they chew their foot off but they can also easily maim themselves to the point that they are crippled,” Willis said.
    The proposal includes year-round trapping seasons, no bag limits, no limits on bucket snares and the killing of unsnared bears trying to protect snared bears. Trappers would be required to salvage either the hide or the meat.
    “The department has spent a lot of time developing this proposal and we think it is a good idea,” said Randy Zarnke, president of the 900-member Alaska Trappers Association.
    Critics, however, say the snares could trap all sorts of animals, including grizzlies, moose and wolverine.
    “It is an indiscriminate killer,” Willis said.
    Willis and some hunters also say the proposal could potentially endanger people who come upon a trapped bear, from those hiking in the backcountry to the trappers themselves.
    While bucket snares are designed to catch black bears, which are smaller than grizzlies, they also are very good at catching young grizzlies still with their mothers, said Mark Richards, co-chair of the Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
    It “brings up real safety issues for the trapper returning to a snare site where a cub is caught and the mother still present, but it means the trapper would have to kill the mother, any other sibling cub not caught, and the cub in the snare,” he said in an e-mail.
    Richards said he’s not against efforts to reduce wolf numbers but is against legalized bear trapping as proposed.
    Under the state’s aerial predator control program, which uses aircraft to locate predators, more than 1,000 wolves and nearly as many black bears have been killed.
    But the agency says more bears need to be killed to support program goals of boosting moose and caribou numbers.
    Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Pat Valkenburg said the agency has been experimenting with bear trapping and snaring for two years and the “results are encouraging.”
    The bucket snares don’t catch nontarget species, he said, except for the occasional grizzly bear.
    Valkenburg said the snares “have the potential to provide the public with an efficient and selective method of catching black bears, especially around villages and in areas where moose are important for food.”
    For the past two years, the state has experimented with black bear trapping as part of its aerial predator control program and removed hundreds of bears from an area west of Anchorage and across an inlet.
    Critics, including Willis, say wildlife managers have not done the scientific studies needed to justify the predator control program and, now, legalized bear trapping. The state disputes that, pointing to field studies.
    Willis said he fears for people out hiking, rafting, berry-picking and just out enjoying the Alaska outdoors.
    “You are begging for an innocent individual to walk up on a snared bear and, should it be a brown bear that has just been caught, the bear goes berserk and busts the snare loose, the first thing he is going to do is kill that human,” he said.


    • Jon, I’ll try to get in a post about the bears this weekend. This will be absolutely horrendous for black bears, especially their breeding females and cubs. BOG is the worst. They are always coming up with some horrific plan to kill animals. We have to get the word out there about this. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.



  8. Hey, the FU$%^&*ing vampires at the Alaska Trappers Assoc think it’s a good idea- don’t they always have the best interest of wildlife over their own degenerate perverted twisted sick pleasure that they get from torturing wildlife? Hey looky here we got ourselves a wolverine, just don’t tell anyone there Huckleberry. These people are the very lowest of the low in our society


  9. I don’t know if people are aware that there are two information seminars regarding the wolves to be held this month in Missoula, Montana.

    One, entitled, “Concerned About Wolves”, hosted by Denny Reberg, will take place at the Double Tree Hotel in Missoula, Montana on Oct. 14 at 6P.

    The second will be held at the University of Montana, in Missoula on Oct. 19th at 7P at the UC Theatre, 3rd. floor of the University Center. Entitled, “Lords of Nature.” Answering the questions: Can people and prdators coexist? Can we afford not to?

    For more information go to,

    It might be worth it to attend these if possible. If they view the wolves favorably, then the people putting this on need our support.


    • Carl and Janice, Lords of Nature is wonderful, I’ve had the pleasure of watching it several times. As for Rehberg, I wouldn’t cross the street to listen to him complain about wolves. He’s using them to preach to his base. He’s terrible on wolves.



  10. I attended the wolf meeting that Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg had in Kalispell on Oct. 6th. He had a panel of 10 people and all 10 people hated wolves. He invited a spokesman from the Safari Club, but I think the only reason that they were invited was that Hitler wasn’t available that day. He does open up the mike for anyone to talk about wolves, so if you love wolves, be prepared to speak. The reason Rehberg hates wolves, is that he used to raise goats and a wolf killed several of his goats. He doesn’t say anything about how it was his resposibility to protect this livestock from predators.


    • Thanks Forever Wild for attending and being there for wolves. The meetings were a joke. The fact the Safari Club was represented speaks volumes. This isn’t about wolves, it’s about Rehberg mining for votes anb preaching to his base. It’s disgusting. I hope he loses the election, even though his opponent has the same views on wolves. But just because he’s been around too long, he needs to go.



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