Thursday, December 22, 2016

Folklore Wolves

Wolves are predatory canines that are one of the most dangerous and most controversial animals in a human dominated world. Wolves themselves are dog-like predators that hunt in packs and rarely attack humans (unless cornered by humans or believe humans are threatening them). When humans were a hunter-gatherer species, the wolf was a respected and beloved animal. Regarded as a fellow hunter and was celebrated in stories and song. But as man became a farmer species, they viewed the wolf less and less as an ally or worse as an enemy, although there were exceptions. During the reign of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire, farms were well protected and roads rarely went through wolf territory, trade was also quite good. After the Empire fell, and Europe became split into several partially organized kingdoms that could be attacked at any time, farming became more difficult and defenses were lower. Since trading was almost gone, people became forced to hunt again. This put humans into conflict with Wolves, and quickly, humans began to fear and despise Wolves. The church called them "Servants of the Devil who feast on lambs in the Flock of God." Although true that Wolves at that period did attack human settlements, kill humans and their cattle, sheep and other domestic animals, this was really the fault of humans because they constantly hunted deer to feed their families and left little for the Wolves. During his reign, King Edward I of England ordered all Wolves in England to be killed to keep his people safe from wolf attacks. The order was not completed until long after his death but nevertheless bounties for Wolves were high and today, there is no wolf left in England. The same thing happened in many other parts of Western Europe and today, the only places where Wolves can be found in Western Europe are in Italy, Spain, and France. During the time of the Renaissance, Wolves were almost utterly gone from Western Europe, but the fear of them was still relatively high. Parents created fairy tales for their children in which Wolves were villains who liked to eat little children and other harmless creatures. When Europeans colonized America, they were utterly horrified to discover Wolves living there. Bounties were put on Wolves and the ideas of Wolves in Europe clashed with ideas of Wolves from Native Americans (many tribes honored and respected Wolves, but those ideas almost died out with the Native Americans). In 1914, the United States passed an order to exterminate all Wolves in America and today, the population of American Wolves is barely a shell of what it used to be.

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