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Panic! Wolves in the village
by Rinso
2006-11-11 09:51:11
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Since the first snow a couple of weeks ago, there are wolf trails to be seen in the village. A few days ago, this made the newspapers and even the TV-news. Scared parents don't want their children to walk through the forest to the school taxi stop. Some even forbid them to play in front of the house. Is it really so dangerous or are they over-reacting?

Wolf sightings are not new in the village. Several years now, there are occasional sightings or tracks, but they have been credited to a lonely wolf. Recently however, information came that it probably is a pack of five. Now with the local farmers and hunters uttering concern for their animals, mothers are starting to demand more safety for their children. No more walking to the taxi stop, but being picked up from the doorstep.

And the problem is spreading. Now wolf sightings are reported from all the villages in the neighbourhood with equal demands for improved taxi services. The same happened a year ago in Kuhmoinen, where the community had to pay for the extra costs of door-to-door transportation (a few thousand euros). Of course, the local taxi driver is very eager to spread the word about each new sighting.

Last year, the European Commission accused Finland of being too liberal in giving permits for killing wolves. The Commission wants the wolf population in Finland to increase from the present 200 to 1,000, but people living in the countryside, who see their animals killed by wolves, strongly oppose this idea. The basic question is how big a population should be to sustain itself without negative genetic effects. Finland claims that the present population will remain healthy because of the large nearby Russian population.

In reality, wolves pose no danger to humans. In the past century, there are no records where a healthy wolf has killed a human. Some sources even claim that there are only three cases in the whole of Europe, where a wolf attacked a human. This is probably incorrect due to inadequate reporting and archiving, but the general idea is clear; there is hardly any risk.

Back to our village: What to do? Spend a few thousand euros on door-to-door transportation and still leave the animals at risk, or give permission to kill one or two wolves and thereby chasing them further from inhabited places? Or, be sensible and do nothing and admit that wolves are not the evil creatures we think they are.

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