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Wolves

Maned Wolf Chrysocyon brachyurus

Listed as Endangered and Vulnerable by I.U.C.N the World Conservation Union and is the subject of special protection measures. Part of this includes a European-wide captive breeding effort co-ordinated by Frankfurt Zoo.

Twenty years ago Maned wolves were difficult to establish and maintain in captivity. Many imported, wild-caught specimens died of a kidney disorder. Today, every animal in European zoos is captive bred and numbers are increasing at a steady rate.

Our two animals were born at Prague Zoo and Amsterdam Zoo, and have been brought together at the instigation of the international studbook to introduce new " blood lines " and maximise genetic variation in the existing UK gene pool.

On Friday, 4th December 1998, our remaining Maned Wold died suddenly. Although we didn't witness his death, just finding him lying in the paddock on Saturday morning, he had seemed in perfect health, eating well, moving about, and barking loudly.

An initial Post Mortem at Glasgow University Veterinary Hospital Post Mortem Department found nothing." He was a perfectly healthy adult Maned Wolf in good condition. "

However, later that week on opening the skull, a violent haemmorage was discovered, " affecting the spinal cord as far down as cervical vertebra 6 " according to Dr Pamela Johnstone. In other words " a stroke ",something which can strike man or beast anywhere, at any time, unfortunately.

With the death of this creature, we are left without any wolves currently, the other animal having been transferred out of the Zoopark some time ago.

Their paddock at Glasgow ZooPark had been developed to provide the Maned wolves with both areas of open grass & with plenty of cover.

Living with Wolves

In the mountains of south east France wolves are now the problem in an area which has been recolonised by lynx.
Conservationists claim they are spreading across the border from Italy.
But shepherd Jean-Pierre Jouffrey, who has lost 100 sheep during the summer of 1998, claims the wolves or wolf-type animals are being deliberately released from vehicles.
Shepherds don't mind lynx or wolves, provided they don't attack their livestock. Those that do must be shot.
French shepherds were told to learn to live with the wolves.
Francois Mouton, secretary of the Society for the Protection of Animals in Grenoble, said: " It's part of French culture to live with wolves. "
The one good thing about wolves is that, generally, they don't kill humans,and livestock losses can be compensated for. But that is of little consolation to a pet owner or shepherd who has lost animals.
In the United States, where the number of wolves is increasing dramatically,the same complaints are being strenuously voiced.
In the UK, the Dangerous Dogs Act has posed problems. People argued that because their pit bull terriers were not 100% pure, they were out with the provisions of the Act.
Similar arguments have been tried with wolves and wolf-dog hybrids, although a judge in an English court recently treated a hybrid as a wolf.
There are lots of these animals around and some people might think of releasing them.
A World Health Organisation paper on the wolves in eastern Europe and Turkey stated that many of the half-wild dogs in country areas carry wolf genes.
Within five years of one wolf wandering into a district, there would be significant numbers of apparently pure-bred wolves.
They were created by the wolf breeding with the local dog crosses and causing wolf genes to quickly rise to the surface so that the resultant animals were almost pure-bred wolves.

European Wolf Reintroduction Problems

Those enthusiasts suggesting that wolves should be reintroduced to Scotland might like to know that the French Government have finally decided to take steps to help the cantons which are being invaded by wolves from Italy. The wolves have been killing sheep and have even been threatening some shepherds in the high summer pastures of the Alps. So the proposed solution is a return to the past, with the government going 50-50 on the cost of training traditional breeds of sheep guarding dogs, like Pyrenean Mountain dogs and the Italian Maremma. But some shepherds want tougher action and are terrified every time they start shining a torch round their huddled flock in the middle of the night - only to see eight pairs of large yellow eyes staring back at them.

 

Trials of Reintroducing Wolves

The reintroduction of wolves into Scotland is a controversial subject. Conservationists in general are in favour. Landowners and stock farmers usually are not.

It is a complex subject, but wolves and bears once roamed Scotland in significant numbers, but the last wolf was eradicated in the mid-17th century. But in France, wolves are back on the prowl. "Italian" wolves have spread across the border into south-eastern France along the valleys and forests near Grenoble. Shepherds are compensated for any kills of their sheep, which is not really the point so far as they are concerned. "Why should we have to suffer this?" they ask. "You cannot compensate for the loss of breeding sheep, only for its value as a dead carcass."

The Government's reply is that wolves and wild bears are part of the tradition of France and country dwellers have to relearn the shepherding practices of the past. I have studied this myself and have come to the conclusion it is nowhere near as straightforward as some try to make out.

In the Pyrenees, up until quite recently two types of dogs were used.

The guarding type are epitomised by the French Pyrenean Mountain Dog or Patous, while a similar dog in Italy is the Maremma.

Puppies are reared with lambs, so they "imprint" on them. What I didn't appreciate was the sophisticated training all the dogs received.

The sheep are herded at night in the high fenceless valleys by a smaller breed, the Labrit. This resembles a smaller, pointed-faced version of our bearded collie. Further out, sitting on some hillock would be one to three Pyrenean Mountain Dogs scanning the locale for signs of danger.

Not only are these dogs highly-aggressive in defence of their sheep, in the past they were nearly always fitted with broad collars, bristling with vicious spikes.

Furthermore, if bears were a serious threat, the dogs often had back and flank protection of a sort of spike-covered chainmail. The most bizarre sight of all in the past was of shepherds mounted on stilts so they could more easily get early warning of the approach of marauding bears or wolves.

Caution Urged on Reintroduction of Wolves to the UK

There have been calls for the introduction of wolves back into the wild in Britain. Derek Gow, a former warden at Palacerigg Country Park in Cumbernauld and now the manager of Wildwood Discovery Park, near Canterbury, in Kent, is on record as saying he would like to see wolves roaming the wilder areas of Scotland once more.

Such people should not lose sight of the fact that it took at least 2000 years of relentless persecution to eliminate wolves from England and Scotland with good justification.

In the United States of America and continental Europe the efforts to reintroduce this predator have been dogged with controversy. Domestic livestock and many pet dogs have fallen victim to the wolves.

People should study the severe messages from abroad before inflicting such a predator on people in country areas who are already struggling to make a living.

History of Wolves in Scotland

Wolves Historically in Scotland 2