Wolf Song of Alaska News


Being Friendly with Predators Will Make Them More Dangerous

Letters / Juneau Empire / February 18, 2007

I've just read the Juneau Empire's story about Romeo the wolf (Feb. 8). This is a very interesting story because wolves are so rare in much of their former range. It is a great paradox that the friendlier we get with wild predators the more dangerous they become, and the more harm we actually do to them.

In Australia we have a native dog called the dingo. It can breed with domestic dogs, but the most genetically pure strain of the species survives on Fraser Island National Park.

On Fraser Island, the dingoes became so accustomed to people that a serious problem developed. Tourists were feeding them, and they began scavenging for food in camping grounds (a bit like the bear problem in some U.S. National Parks).

In 2001, a young boy was killed by a dingo and subsequently there was an uproar for something to be done. This resulted in a knee-jerk reaction that lead to the indiscriminate slaughter of many animals before an impact assessment on the remaining population could be conducted. You can imagine the affect such a disturbance could have on predatory pack animals. The whole thing was a huge mess and resulted in a disastrous bungling of a sensitive issue.

The attitudes in the park have changed considerably since then, but as always, it is difficult to prevent people from trying to interact with wildlife when they do not appreciate the potential danger.

Thanks for the story.
David Forsyth / Australia

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