The following is an excerpt from one of my earlier writings (1981) for a college course in wildlife management:
“…often fables and legends have, unjustly, depicted wolves as ruthless, indiscriminate killers, but unbiased biologists, zoologists, naturalists and other informed observers will agree that wolves, by taking the weak and diseased prey, strengthen the herd or species, thus, keeping them healthy through natural selection.
“…the most distant ancestors of wolves developed in the Paleocene epoch, some sixty million years ago. Starting as small, rodent-like insectivores, and later, long-eared, otter-like tree-dwellers, these ancient relatives gave rise to the dog, cat, bear and weasel families. Twenty million years ago (during the Miocene epoch) the distinctions between dog and cat families were recognizable. The immediate ancestor of the wolf, Canis, appeared in the Pleistocene, one million years ago. Dirus, or the dire wolf, was among the species of Canis. These wolves lived off the grazers of the epoch, like the camel, which roamed the Great Plains at the time…As time went on [with the appearance of humans on the continent] the camel, horse and mammoth died [were killed off]. The wolf, however, held on and remained stable across the North American continent. Living off the bison of the Great Plains, the caribou of the Arctic barrens, deer, elk, and moose of the forest and mountainous areas, the wolf became the most widely distributed large mammal of the continent. For hundreds of thousands of years, wolves lived in balance with these herbivores, in a symbiotic relationship…They kept the rodent populations down during the summer months, catching mice, lemming, prairie dogs, porcupine and many other small rodents, that may have otherwise over-populated and died off long ago. Throughout all this time, wolves were able to adapt to all the natural changes in the environment (but not those later caused by man).
“Up until a few thousand years ago, European man lived in wandering tribes, hunting and gathering food. During this time, wolves took the old and diseased deer, elk, or reindeer, leaving the large and healthier to go on to breed.”
to be continued…