We Should Thank--Not Hate--Wolves

Part One of a Six-Part Series

For hundreds of thousands of years, wolves dogged herds of reindeer that migrated between what is now Spain and Siberia. After the last Ice Age, perhaps 10,000 years ago, early humans may have stumbled upon wolves bringing down reindeer. Our ancestors may have been as hungry as those wolves, but they couldn't hunt as well. Stomachs growling, they puzzled over how to plunder some of their competitor's bounty.

A couple of early humans--no matter how hungry-couldn't just take a pack's kill. They would be no match for wolves. But, early humans were superior to their competitor in some ways. Humans have greater cognitive ability. Humans can see better at longer distances, because we stand taller than wolves. Humans with weapons could hit a target from a safe distance. These strengths could have enabled early humans to assist wolves in hunting.

Ancient wolves, as they do now, hunted by sorting and sifting a herd to expose the animal that required the least effort to bring down. After wolves cut that animal from the herd, it would eventually stop and face its attackers. The wolves would then have to begin the dangerous work of bringing down a much bigger animal. But that standing animal could be more easily brought down by humans with weapons. Working together, a meal could be won using the strengths of both predators, and the partners shared the spoils.

There's even more evidence that wolves helped humans survive... to read Part 1

As always, I would love to read your comments on this idea.

Rick Lamplugh lives near Yellowstone's north gate and is the author of the Amazon Bestseller In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter's Immersion in Wild Yellowstone. Available as eBook or paperback. Or as a signed copy from the author.

Wolf photo by USFWS (CC BY 2.0)