“Sorry For The Inconvenience We Are Trying To Save The WORLD”…Mato Woksabe

April 23, 2012

This is what a Wolf Warrior looks like.

Mato in front of IDFG in Boise, Idaho, protesting the slaughter of wolves.

Take heed Warriors. Every single one of us has the ability to do what Mato is doing.

Remember the Idaho hunt is not over. Lolo and Selway wolves are being hunted during denning and pupping season, through June 2012. The alpha females are sitting ducks in their dens. What kind of people kill pregnant wolves or newborn wolf pups? Ask yourself that question? Will we sit silently by as the slaughter continues?

The time for silence is over!!


Photo: Courtesy Mato Woksabe

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Activism, Wolf Warriors, Wolf Wars

Tags: IDFG, Mato Woksabe. STAND UP FOR WOLVES, wolf slaughter, wolf persecution

Vicious, Wolves and Men in America… by Jon T. Coleman

This is a hard book to read but so necessary to understand the history of wolf persecution in this country.  I can reveal the title of the book is not referring to 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.” (Page 228)


The Atlantic Monthly Review

Vicious: Wolves and Men in America

by Jon T Coleman

 A review by Benjamin Schwarz

This is a sick-making book. It chronicles and interprets Americans’ relations with wolves by following a single European immigration path from southern New England in the 1620s to Colorado in the early twentieth century, by which time hundreds of thousands of the animals had been slaughtered, rendering them all but extinct in the United States. (By the way, not a single case of a wolf’s killing a human being has been recorded in North America.) But Coleman, a Notre Dame historian who evinces impatience bordering on contempt for those who sentimentalize animals, isn’t concerned with this environmental catastrophe — which, as he makes clear, was explicable if not inevitable, given wolves’ peculiar vulnerabilities and the insatiable demands of modern settlement and agriculture. Rather, he seeks to fathom the 300-year history of limitless sadism that attended the wolves’ extermination. These canids were not merely annihilated: they were dragged behind horses until they ripped apart; they were set on fire; they were hamstrung; their backs were broken; they were captured alive to be released with their mouths or penises wired shut; their intestines were torn open by hooks hidden in balls of tallow left for them to eat. And as the abundant historical record shows, wolves responded to capture (they were regularly caught in traps or in their dens) not by lashing out but by submission; human beings as a matter of course ignored “a frightened creature’s obvious pleas for mercy” and proceeded to torture. Coleman asserts that what he euphemistically calls “agricultural pacification” demands no explanation; but “why,” he asks,”was death not enough?” The formal and informal campaigns to terrorize and exterminate wolves because of their ubiquity and the menace they posed to open-range livestock (the most concentrated form of wealth for most Americans for most of the country’s history) are well documented, and Coleman proves an indefatigable researcher as he traces this orgy of brutality. But the very evidence he reveals renders the answers he offers to his central question unconvincing — which makes his study all the more disturbing. Coleman asserts that since human beings aren’t “intrinsically sinister,” their behavior toward wolves has to be understood in its cultural and historical context. He thus looks to folklore and to the specific challenges that beset Euro-Americans. To be sure, killing and torturing wolves to some degree represented a desire to “bring order to a rambunctious natural environment” and were “expressions of revenge, anger, and dominion,” as Coleman avers. But that doesn’t make the behavior any more understandable or, for that matter, any less “sinister” — after all, many instances of, say, sexual violence are for the perpetrator also expressions of revenge, anger, and dominion; and the lynching of African-American men in the South could be described in precisely the same terms Coleman employs to explain the torture of wolves: “conservative brutality”; “atrocities committed in the name of order, authority, and decorum.” Although wolves plainly carried a great deal of folkloric baggage for Euro-Americans, they were hardly the only animals to suffer sadistic treatment; a variety of creatures “fell victim to an animal whose behavior mocked the rules of predation.” “Human hunters not only attacked without constraint, they often expended more calories killing beasts than they gained digesting them. ” And Coleman offhandedly notes,”Many rural Americans considered brutalizing wild creatures amusing. They recounted instances of stabbing, hacking, and pitchforking animals with fondness.” The capture and torture of wolves was often recorded, but, for instance, raccoons (often treed for sport) probably suffered a no less atrocious fate. Despite his prodigious research, the author seems to be groping for answers to his intelligently and originally framed question, because ultimately cruelty isn’t subject to the “historical analysis” he promises. That analysis can partially explain why cruelty was directed at certain targets at certain times, but it can’t explain the cruelty itself; Coleman can’t in fact tell us why death was not enough. As E. L. Godkin wrote in 1893, when trying to explain lynching,”We venture to assert that seven-eighths of every lynching party is composed of pure, sporting mob, which goes…just as it goes to a cockfight…for the gratification of the lowest and most degraded instincts of humanity. ” The terrible truth (obvious in the photographs of the broken and mutilated victims in this book), the only explanation for the history Coleman records, is that given half a chance, too many men will behave viciously. (This is one of two sweeping and ambitious scholarly studies of animal-human relations in American history to be published this season. The other is Oxford’s Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America, by Virginia DeJohn Anderson. Also being published, by North Point, is Mark Derr’s at times perceptive but somewhat cobbled-together popular history, A Dog’s History of America. )

More Reviews Courtesy Yale University Press:

“This is a remarkably well-written, provocative and insightful work of history on a timely and important topic.”—Alan Taylor, University of California at Davis

“This is a bold, smart, and original book, written with verve and imagination. Far more than a history of wolves in America, it is a meditation on the meanings of time, history, and culture, and an inquiry into the nature of cruelty and hatred.”—Andrew Cayton, Distinguished Professor of History, Miami University

“A fabulous book. Coleman is a witty, incisive writer who has unearthed a new history for America’s hate-love relationship with wolves. This is a work of exceptional ambition at the cutting edge of environmental history.”—Louis Warren, author of Hunter’s Game, and W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History, University of California, Davis

“Coleman writes with a vibrancy that puts much academic history to shame.  He uses vivid language, deploys a wide range of metaphors, chooses telling examples, and generally knows how to tell a good story.  In part because of his skill as a writer, once I picked the book up, I didn’t want to put it down again.”—Mark V. Barrow, Jr.

“A fascinating book which draws on historical, biological and cultural insights in a penetrating analysis of how Americans have interacted with a major predator. Coleman’s approach allows us to understand fully why we eliminated wolves from the United States, and why recent debates over wolf reintroduction have been so heated.”—Robert Keiter, author of Keeping Faith with Nature and The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (also Wallace Stegner Professor of Law and director of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment at the University of Utah)

“Ambitious. . . . By revisiting a painful past, Coleman will help keep progress for today’s wolves heading in the right direction.”—Hillary Rosner, Audubon

Vicious seeks to explain the social history that catapulted an animal once uniformly reviled to (for many) near-iconic status. . . . Hard to read in places, hard to believe in others, Vicious provides fascinating documentation of the savagery lurking just beneath humanity’s civilized surface.”—Adrian Barnett, California Wild

“Engaging and well documented from primary sources, Vicious forces readers to reflect on the relationship between human beings and this magnificent predator, and on people’s responsibilities to the wider world. Recommended.”—Choice

“Coleman chronicles the 300-year old relationship between European Americans and their canid contemporaries. . . . His remarkable book reveals the limits of human rationality, its inability to penetrate a mystery as old as Genesis. Although his work will be catalogued as social history, it is also a remarkable breviary on the problem of evil.”Mark Ralls, Christian Century

“This is a provocative history of wolves in America and of the humans who first destroyed them and now offer them protection.”—Fort Collins Coloradoan

“An excellent new book . . . a groundbreaking study that examines the particular folk tales at work in individual episodes of wolf killing. . . . Full of new ideas, animated by a lively narrative, Vicious is a tremendous accomplishment that deserves a wide public audience.”—Jim Williams, International Wolf

“Coleman delineates human-canine interactions with lively prose and copious detail. He deftly weaves together the histories of settler and lupine societies, raising important questions of how we relate to nature en route. . . . A provocative, scholarly, and readable text.”—Karen R. Jones, Journal of American History

“This book blends cultural, social and economic history with biology in a fascinating tale of the interactions between two predatory species. . . . [Coleman] examines in eloquent fashion the legendary and mythical origins of human’s hatred of wolves. . . . This book will be of great interest to historians and biologists and should be read by everyone.”—Gary Hulett, Journal of the West

“Coleman tells a wonderfully nuanced history of [the] practices and policies [of predator control]. What makes the book so compelling, however, is the story of how wolf killing was woven into the fabric of American culture and folklore. . . . [Vicious] makes a significant contribution to the effort of environmental scholars to illuminate the complex relationship between nature and culture. Thoughtfully conceived, insightful, and well written, Vicious is a wicked good read.”—Andrew Kirk, Montana

“[A] fine book. . . . As wolves expand their range . . . one cannot help but conclude that animals have remade us just as surely as we have remade them. . . . Coleman ably explain[s] how this happened in North America, and [his] work suggests that it might well be time to dispose of outworn sartorial metaphors.”—Joseph Cullon, New England Quarterly

“The information on wolf behavior and research is exceptional. Extensive notes reflect the dissertation quality of the text. Overall, this volume is an excellent blending of biology, history, and folklore. It is also a welcome addition to the shelf of environmental books.”—Patricia Ann Owens, South Dakota History

“This is a fine book.”—Brett L. Walker, American Historical Review

Vicious, historian Jon Coleman’s first book, is a smart, engagingly written, wildly imaginative study of specific regions and times that Coleman uses to distill the human/wolf relationship in America over the past four hundred years. The book is a case study approach using New England, Ohio, the Great Plains, the Central Rockies, and to some extent, Colorado to convey its interpretation.”—Dan Flores, Western Historical Quarterly

Vicious is well written and easy to read. . . . A good read and a book that deserves a wide readership.”—Current Anthropology

“Marvelous. . . . Vicious deserves a wide audience. The storytelling is superb, the analysis fascinating, and the descriptions of both science and folklore bring clarity and life to what can be technical and arcane. Coleman even adds a dash of humor to the mix, making this the sort of book that undergraduates and general readers will appreciate.”—Tim Lehman, H-Net Reviews

You can purchase this book on Amazon.

It will give you a whole new perspective on what wolves have had to endure from us.

Ask yourself, is this behavior rearing its ugly head once more? You decide.


Top Photo: Courtesy Yale Press

Bottom Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Wolf Wars

Tags: wolf persecution, wolf torture, intolerance, vicious behavior, history repeating itself?

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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