The Real Wolf Does Not Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Authors Say It Is Pro-Wolfers Who Propagate Myths
Probably the most controversial animal in the North American wilderness, the wolf has been the subject of heated debate since their 1995 reintroduction into Yellowstone. Many assert that wolves are an important part of the ecosystem that should be protected, even revered, and that unfounded myths have surrounded their existence, drawn from folklore and fairy tales. Others say wolves are ruthless disease-infested killers that need to be reined in and managed—that is, hunted—and that environmen-tal activists and biologists with political motives have misrepresented wolves, creating myths of their own.
Are wolves then, necessary to the reconsti-tution of an ecosystem in the modern world, or highly threatening predators that must be treated as such through management policies?
In The Real Wolf: The Science, Politics, and Economics of Co-Exist-ing with Wolves in Modern Times, Ted B. Lyon and Will N. Graves come down decidedly on the side of mythbusting the mythbusters, that is, making their case that there have been misrepresentations by federal biologists about wolves and that environmental groups, and outdoor media, have been complicit in perpetu-ating myths and misinformation about wolves, as well, that fly in the face of reality.
Acting as “mythbusters,” the authors pen several chapters themselves, but also advance their case by presenting the findings and conclusions of others whose writings also fill chapters dealing with “myths” the book addresses.
For example, the “myth’ that wolves do not kill or attack people. The authors assert that it is a fact that wolves indeed do, and regularly, kill and attack people, devoting at least two chapters to their case, while explaining that wolf attacks on people worldwide have been numerous, while in North America armed settlers (the norm, they say) and formal and informal extermination campaigns condition-ed wary wolves to stay away from people.
Another “myth” the authors take on is the concept asserted by proponents as wolves were being reintroduced to Yellowstone that “wolves are the sanitarians of nature and will only kill the weak and sick,” thereby contributing to the health of ungulate and bighorn sheep herds. Not so, the authors say, presenting their case that the predators kill any and all forms of animals, strong and weak, and their documentation that wolves quickly destroy large game herds.
Another proposition the authors take on as a fallacy is the idea that wolves provide a significant economic benefit to Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming—making a case that wolves are “a financial disaster for ranchers, farmers, businesses, and states.”
Ted Lyon, a lifelong trial lawyer and politician (and therefore experienced in rhetorical persuasion), and Will Graves, a researcher on Russian wolves, argue that after years of mismanagement, wolves are single-handedly responsible for the decimation of wild moose and elk populations, the slaughter of livestock, and the spread of infectious diseases among game and domestic animals across many of the lower 48 states.
“The case that I am about to make in this book about wolves and how they have been ‘managed’ over the last 30 years is a story about misinformation and myth,” Lyon writes in his opening statement.
Lyon and co-author Will Graves assert that Americans have been hoodwinked by wildlife advocacy groups about the true state of wolves in the wild and their impact on the environment.
“In this book, you will find that a massive disinformation campaign has been perpetrated upon America about wolves,” states Lyon.
The authors say that their goal in The Real Wolf is to “educate the public on the issues surrounding wolves, and to prove that a new system of management is needed to balance wolf populations with ungulate populations.” Lyon and Graves call for changes to the Endangered Species Act and to the Equal Access to Justice Act to give states the power to maintain local ecosystems.
Additionally, the authors say follow the money, calling into question the propriety of millions of taxpayer dollars spent on wolf recovery in the United States, asserting that an audit of those monies should be undertaken.
The Real Wolf, according to the authors, is the culmination of over six years of research for Ted Lyon, who says he supported wolf recovery before delving more deeply into wolves and what he now sees as their cost to society.
“I think that I am on the right side of the preservation of our wild game,” he states in a press release.
About the Authors
Ted Lyon has represented clients in more than 150 jury trials, and served in both the Texas House of Representatives (1979-1983) and the Texas State Senate (1983-1993). He has also been a police officer, a licensed fishing and hunting guide, and a teacher. Lyon received the 2012 Teddy Roosevelt Conservationist of the Year award.
At the outbreak of the Korean War, Will Graves volunteered for the U.S. Air Force and was trained as a Russian linguist. To accelerate and develop his skills in Russian, he started to read Russian wildlife magazines and books, where wolves were often discussed. Soon his interest became focused on wolves in Russia. He asked numerous native Russians if they had knowledge of wolves, he says, and began to record data and resources. Graves’ interest in wolves grew into a serious study that continued after the war. In 2007, he wrote and published Wolves in Russia—Anxiety Through the Ages.
The Real Wolf: The Science, Poli-tics, and Economics of Co-Existing with Wolves in Modern Times is available at Conley’s Books and Music in Livingston, through online retailers like Amazon, and from distributor Farcountry Press.