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Wolves (Latin Canis lupus) are predators of the canine family. Wolves are common in Eurasia and North America, but the range and total number have recently decreased significantly.
Wolves feed mainly on ungulates - deer, elk, roe deer. However, they do not disdain smaller prey - hares, rodents. Wolves do not hesitate to return to half-eaten prey. In difficult times, they can feed on reptiles, frogs, large insects and even, quenching their thirst, melons (watermelons and melons).
These predators always had a negative image, they were hunted everywhere, which led to the fact that in many places the population was on the verge of destruction. Although, as it turned out, wolves play an important role in the ecosystem. The main enemy of these animals is a man who, not really understanding his place in nature, on the basis of concepts invented by him, upsets the balance. Let's consider the main myths about wolves, replicated, mainly, by their hunters.
Wolves breed quickly if not shot. In full-fledged packs of wolves, as in nature in general, self-regulation mechanisms operate. In the first 2 years of life, 80% of all young wolf cubs die. In conditions where the tribe is not endangered, fewer females are born, and more males. In addition, the female dominant in the tribe does not allow her friends who have a subordinate status to breed. It is not surprising that in a normal population the number is stable, since the death rate is roughly equal to the birth rate. Each pair of wolves leaves behind the same pair of breeding wolves. It should be noted that the flock is intolerant of strangers, gnawing them or simply driving them away.
All the wolves were killed in Europe, only in Ukraine remained. Surprisingly, there are fewer countries than Ukraine, but where wolves live no less. These are Spain, Greece, Belarus, Romania. As many as 13 countries have a density of wolves more than Ukraine. For example, there are 0.14 wolves per 10 square kilometers in Latvia, 0.11 in Romania, 0.5 in Greece, and 0.19 in Crete. It should be noted that in Greece, Slovakia, Portugal, Crete, Romania, Spain and Poland, the wolf is under the full protection of the state. In all other countries, with the exception of Belarus, this predator is partially protected. Where did the myth that there are many wolves in Ukraine come from? Are European wolves different, do not eat meat and therefore they are protected? Anti-wolf sentiments are based on preventing the penetration of environmental ideas into the CIS countries. Our people are accustomed to take from nature in full, and we cannot get used to paying for it by protecting what little is left.
Only hunters understand wolves. The hunting publications of the CIS open spaces readily criticize the Kiev ecological and cultural center, which protects wolves. Despite effective measures - the prohibition of the killing of wolf cubs and pregnant females, hunters charge that environmentalists do not understand wolves. But this technique is not new. At the beginning of the 20th century, "Nature and Hunting" and "Okhotnichya Gazeta" literally persecuted the professor of Moscow University, an outstanding zoologist G.A. Kozhevnikov, who opposed the persecution of "harmful" predators - tigers and wolves. The world famous scientist was declared by hunters to be ignorant of zoology. Other prominent scientists who defended predators - Professors Pachosky, Brauner, Buturlin, were also attacked in the 20th century. The self-confidence of the hunters looks strange. They believe that the one who kills them knows the animals best.
It is noteworthy that in the mid-1980s, a book by the famous Russian hunter M. I. Pavlov "The Wolf" was published in Norway. Reviews were scandalous. Norwegian zoologists and ecologists accused the author of instilling fear and bioxenophobia. The researchers noted that the materials have no scientific basis and are simply propagandistic. Norwegian newspapers wrote that for some reason Stalin's policy can be traced towards the wolf, which is constantly looking for enemies, this time in the wild. Yes, and Polish environmentalists call the situation with the extermination of wolves in the vastness of the CIS nothing other than medieval barbarism.
A decrease in the number of wolves will lead to an increase in the number of ungulates. This myth emphasizes the ignorance of the hunters. In 1985, a monograph by Doctor of Biological Sciences was published in Moscow. DI. Bibikov "The Wolf", in which the scientist proved that the destruction of wolves leads only to a short-term increase in the number of elk and deer. Soon, their number begins to decline sharply. Nature here also includes regulation mechanisms, a decrease in the number of ungulate deaths from wolves leads to an increase in mortality from worms and other diseases. In science, this is even called "compensation of mortality factors". This phenomenon was mentioned as early as 1946 by P. Effington, a well-known ecologist in the West. The death of animals from the claws of predators will inevitably be replaced by other natural causes. By the way, there are many cases when the ungulate population grew even with a high number of wolves.
Wolves are very harmful to farm animals. It is not clear how one can argue about this, if the method for calculating this very damage has not been properly developed. The already mentioned D.I. Bibikov wrote: "It should be noted that data on the harm caused by a wolf to animal husbandry are not always reliable enough due to the lack of special registration (...). These postscripts are especially large for deer and sheep." Among zoologists, the already classic article by the Soviet scientist N. Zheleznov, written by him in 1978, is known. The author, using the example of the Magadan Region, proved that only 8-12% of animals die directly from wolves, and the rest are banal postscripts. An anecdotal incident occurred with the Ukrainian defender of wolves Y. Vasidlov, who, after conducting sociological observations in the Carpathians, came to the conclusion that local predators only pick up insured animals. Thus, it is obvious that people often try to write off the missing heads of livestock on wolves.
Wolves hunt people, literally terrorizing the entire country. It is true that a wolf with rabies can bite a person. For a year, there are up to two dozen such cases in Ukraine. But there were no cases of eating people. In fact, dogs, especially fighting breeds, are a great danger to humans. For example, in Lvov in 2005 471 people were injured, and in 2000 - about 600. In Moscow, about 30 thousand people apply for help from dog bites every year. But no one calls to shoot fighting breeds. Thousands of people die on the roads, millions suffer from alcohol and tobacco. But it would be foolish to ban cars, and alcohol and cigarettes are also widely advertised.
The more wolves are destroyed, the less they will remain. This delusion is very dangerous. Let's remember about self-regulation. When gray predators are exterminated from animals, the corresponding mechanisms are activated. And now the birth rate in wolves is increasing, among the puppies there are more new females. Dilapidated flocks no longer have a dominant wolf, self-regulation is impaired, and nothing prevents females from giving birth again and again. Instead of normal flocks, groups are formed that include alien young animals, as well as stray dogs and hybrids, which only increases predation. In such situations, the emergence of specialized predators is observed, attacking, for example, only on domestic animals. So it turns out that by destroying wolves, people unwittingly themselves increase their number and harm.
Wolves are useless animals. In fact, wolves are an important element of the biosystem. In winter, when most of the animals are starving, it is he, with the remains of the hunt, who feeds dozens of species of small animals and birds. "Clients" include eagles, owls, tits, etc. Rodents make up about 10% of the wolf's diet, eating them, the predator thereby brings great benefits to agriculture. It is well known that a wolf is a "forest orderly". By eating sick and weak animals, it cleanses populations, making room for new healthy individuals. In 1976, wolves killed 13 deer in the Khopersky Nature Reserve, and they all had physical defects. In the 1970s, in the Leningrad Region, it was discovered that predators killed mainly moose that had already been wounded after hunting. Dr. Bibikov proved that wolves are the first to destroy ungulates with helminths. Therefore, observing a certain number of roe deer, elk and deer, battered by gray hunters, it should be taken into account that these are mainly sick individuals who would have died so soon from diseases, worms or old age. In addition, the wolf "trains" animals, forcing them to constantly move, which is very important from an evolutionary point of view.
Nobody needs the skin of a wolf. It would seem that hunters pursue a wolf only out of sporting interest or good intentions to cleanse nature from an allegedly unnecessary predator. However, most people are pursuing a completely selfish interest. Carpets, items of clothing (mittens, hats) are made from the skin of a wolf. Prices are in the hundreds of dollars. And if in the West the extermination of wolves is prohibited, then in Ukraine hunters even receive bonuses and free cartridges.
A wolf can raise a human child. Nature knows many cases when animals of the same species raised other people's cubs, obviously confusing them with their own. The history of raising a human cub by wolves is described in the famous book by R. Kipling Mowgli. However, are there any similar cases in real life? The most famous case is the story of the Indian girls Amala and her sister Kamala, who were raised by wolves in the jungle from childhood. Unlike Mowgli, they could not return the children to human society. At first, they refused to wear clothes and howled at night, as if calling on their relatives for help. The children were unable to walk fully on two legs, for a long time they were accustomed to human food. Their intelligence remained forever at the level of a three-year-old child.
Wolves don't have their own language. The activity of these animals in a pack-family is possible only with a developed language of communication. In the course of a long struggle for existence, wolves have worked out the mechanisms for receiving and transmitting information. Their language is based on howl - the main element of audible signaling. It is interesting that communication through howling is inherent only to wolves. In Russia, none of the large predators use such a tool. Some hyena breeds in Africa also use unpleasant laughter, but in morphological characteristics and in schooling methods of hunting, these animals are just like wolves. It is noteworthy that the language of wolves has little in common with the language of the domestic dog. Our pets bark more often and rarely howl, and even that is monotonous. An adult wolf behaves the other way around - howl is its main instrument.
Wolves don't eat their own kind. I would like to believe in the nobility of these animals. But this is not true. In relation to weak and sick relatives, wolves are quite cruel - they are destroyed, and in times of hunger they can eat. It is no coincidence that individuals who feel their uselessness for the flock leave it themselves. Hence, single wolves appear, which keep at a distance from their relatives, feeding on scraps.
Wolves are bad parents. Despite the mercilessness towards the weak members of the pack, towards the healthy ones, and even more so towards their females, wolves are very attentive and even gentle. For a pregnant girlfriend, the male carefully arranges a den. Usually 4-6 cubs are born. For the first fortnight, the female does not leave them anywhere, and the male carries food for them. The father is very caring, taking part in the feeding with the mother. Later, the wolf teaches young puppies all the intricacies of life and hunting. At the same time, the father is extremely patient. Puppies are punished exclusively for the cause, while the parents are not averse to playing with the young growth themselves.