Do wolves attack humans?

I have heard many times that there is no documented case of a wolf attacking a human (discounting rabid animals).

My sister’s roommate has two animals, one of which is entirely Canadian wolf and the other is a mixed breed of wolf and German Shepherd. They are friendly enough, and I certainly don’t feel threatened by them. On the other hand you can tell that they’re not dogs. There is a different look in their eyes and gait.

My question is if in fact wolves leave people alone, why is there so much folklore and phrases about them being aggressive and dangerous?

Did the people in ancient and medieval times who lived in areas with large wolf populations not know what they were talking about?
It’s hard to believe that a child walking through the woods would be safe from a pack of hungry predators.

I would imagine that one or two have been attacked during times of famine and drought.

But relating to your question, I can only speculate. They attacked the flocks and herds of the earlier peoples, I’m sure, and I doubt they were very friendly to someone who tried to stop them…

On a tangent–you can own full-blood wolves? Wow, if you can, I want one :slight_smile:

Ah, wolves, one of my favorite subjects and have several books and oodles of wolf stuff around my house.

Anyhow, in a book called The Wolf by L David Mech, he goes into the behavior and other such things relating to the wolf.

In the first section of his book he explains that most wolves are very shy and when approached by humans for tagging or other means, they become mostly docile animals. He states the main reasoning behind this may be because of the nature of them living in a pack which has definate domination and submission roles.

Now, he does state that it depends on the wolf but most encounters with humans have been that of a submissive nature. Here he states where a wolf would likely demonstrate aggressive behavior:

He does bring up a specific attack that works within his “study” where a wolf was rabid.

Generally, wolves are afraid of humans, and rightfully so given the persecution of humans over the ages.

Why do people fear and loathe the wolf? Just from my own research I gather much of it comes from a society in which we breed and keep livestock for our own food. When the wolf’s prey is thinned out the wolf will go for what is available, unfortunately this includes the ranchers animals. What a rancher doesn’t usually understand is that the wolf is looking for prey and would personally prefer not be around the human at all.

I gather that from the older times that rabies could be a big part of why the wolf was considered a scary opponent. Consider what we know about rabies now and what they didn’t know then. Much like today’s overblown media (can we say garbage like “Survivor”) as word got out that a wolf was rabid people became very afraid. Of course that is speculation rather than fact but it makes sense to me.

Oh and SftD, Please, Please, do not get a wolf or a wolf hybrid. Many think they are cool to own until they realize that wolves and the company of humans do not mix. We have two wolf rescue centers here in Colorado and a few other rescue centers that take in more than just wolves. They are legal in many states but if a family can’t keep the animal the only way they can be cared for is through a rescue center or they euthanize them. I think that’s why we have dogs, we can have a little of that “wolf” like animal but a dog has been domesticated, wolves just aren’t.

I own a wolf hybrid, and I can tell you that they make wonderful companions. Mine is a husky-wolf mix and as loyal and gentle as can be. I don’t own her because I thought it would be “cool” or make me look like a badass.
I don’t think they should be available to everyone. I own mine out of unusual and unexpected circumstances, and I know how to care for it properly.

As for wolves not attacking humans, I did read recently about a little girl in the early part of the 20th century who was ACTUALLY RAISED BY WOLVES. I’m not sure if it’s complete fact or not (I saw it on the Discovery channel). Anyway, she’s still alive and living in normal society now. They interviewed her and she talked about how she was one of the pack. Pretty neat.

From news reports I have seen yes, it has happened. I read one of a wolf attacking a child in Alaska and one in Canada. Wolf attacks are not common on people but on the animals that people own. Just today in my local paper there was a report on wolves in Norway. It states that no human has been injured by a wolf in that country for more than a century. Does that mean there were attacks over a hundred years ago?
A wolf will kill and eat to live but it seems that a wolf would much rather eat your sheep or your dog than you.
I’ll stick to having domesticated pets in my home. The wild are better off wild.

Why would wolves not attack a human when they go after animals the same size? What is about people that would frighten a powerful, dangerous animal like a timber wolf? We have no fangs or antlers, and how would they know what guns are unless they had been wounded as individuals?

I don't see how wolves would have some sort of 'racial memory' where they would know that their species has been killed by humans elsewhere. Judging by the number of animals hit by cars which have been around for a century, there is no 'species memory' to warn them of modern danger.

Since most people eat meat,do we smell like carnivores? Does that alarm animals with a keen sense of smell?

Here are some attack links:

Now, I know for a fact, I just can’t find the article, that a woman here in my county kept wolves and wolf hybrids who was attacked and killed by one of her own.

Now, I am not trying to show these as examples of a wolf being a “bad” animal at all. I guess education of the aspects of any wild animal can help us understand them better. Since I am a wolf lover and respect the species to a great degree I think it’s important that we look at a few issues here with regards to us as humans and the wildlife around us.

Here in Colorado we have attacks by mountain lions and bears. I guess what I am getting at is that as we encroach upon the wilds we, as humans, need to be responsible in our interactions with wildlife. Wolves would rather not be around humans, however, just like any other animal if they are conditioned to be around the human population, they can attack. They lose their fear of us much like other wild animals. Think of the bear that finally attacks that has been feeding out of someone’s garbage can or the mountain lion that as it’s losing it’s territory that attacks the neighbor’s laborador (sp).

So, I wonder if it’s not a more appropriate question to ask; what can we as thinking and cognitive humans do to better interact with the wild animal?

The propensity of wolves to be bold or shy around humans is a trait that should vary between members of a population of wolves. Over millenia of exposure to humans, the wolves that are boldest in the presence of humans have been culled from the population and this artifical selection has left us with those wolves that are shy in the presence of humans. Whether the propensity to be bold or shy around humans is genetic or learned from one generation of wolves by the next, I don’t know, but either is possible and will produce the same result.

It seems to me that the best thing people can do to avoid wolf attacks is to avoid presenting opportunities for wolves to attack (e.g. not traveling alone in the presence of wolves) and to not allow the wolves to become too familiar with humans (e.g. don’t feed them in the wild). It looks like wolf attacks are pretty rare, so I’d guess most of the wolves out there are pretty shy around humans already.

I cannot speak on experience, but only through Mr. Tequila who loves wolves. He grew up in No. MN in an area with a lot of wolves, neighbors who owned a lot of sled dogs that were wolf cross, and some even had full blood timberwolves as pets, raised from pups, that they used to breed their dogs with. He owned a half timber half siberian husky and swears it was the most intelligent yet gentle dog he ever owned. Also anyone he knew who had a wolf or wolf cross has said the same thing. Wolves are a family oriented animal, with a heirarchy, and once dominance is established, their loyalty is unlike any other dog or animal. He’s come across wolf packs in the woods, that basically trotted away without a second glance at him. A large part of the old tales is that anything doglike back then, was called a wolf, be in coyote or wild dog. Wild dogs are much worse than wolves and are fairly indiscriminate in their actions, and very dangerous. Another is that, like sharks, relatively little is known about wolves. Being a secretive animal, the mystery alone is enough to scare people. Fear of the unknown. Millions of people see bears in garbage dumps, and every nature show shows bears catching fish and stuff. Very few actually see wolves in the wild, and rarely are they filmed outside controlled conditions. I don’t think, and neither does he, that there has ever been a recorded wolf attack in this country, yet more people are afraid of them than they are mountain lions, who’s attacks are in the dozens, just in the past couple years. So basically, I guess it depends on if you want to believe recorded history, or centuries old folklore that created the werewolf:)

We wolves attack only when provoked …

During the Hundred years war period, in France, etc- there were actually packs of “man eating wolves”. It was a terrible time for humans, also- many were starving, and they were eating up much of the wolves natural prey. What is worse, due to plague & war- they were leaving piles of dead humans around. Any carnivore will eat carrion if it gets hungry enough. And, some of these bodies were not quite dead. So- the wolves lost their fear of humans- and then began to hunt & kill them- but this took many years & likely generations of wolves. Other than then- and especially in North America- there have been no unprovoked wolf attack son Humans. And a child could walk past a pack of hungry NA wolves with safety.

But- a wolf NEEDS to know who is Alpha wolf- and it wants to “move up”. Thus- altho it could accept your freind as current ‘alpha"- if he got sick or something- it is not impossible for the wolf to “make his play” for alpha- by attacking the human. Now- if your friend "rolled over’ there would be no problem, as they are not visious. But- unles your friend was able to show immediate “dominance” they very well could continue fighting/attacking as long as they thought they could reasonably make “alpha”.

My dad lived in Alaska in the 30’s- he raised sled dogs- and did indeed breed wolf “back in” once in a while. He said to NEVER have a "pure-bred’ wolf- as they were too “hyper” and they would “make their play” for alpha when you did not expect it. He did say a 50/50 wolf/husky cross was a good pet- for the right owner. Any higher wolf % he considered dangerous.

To paraphrase Mr. Tequila, Daniel is correct. While a cross wolf generally will accept it’s rank as permanent, a full wolf will always and continually seek the Alpha position and it takes a special personality to have one around. All the people he knew who had one, were single people, with very strong wills. Although an Alpha “change” is rarely violent, even among wolves, it takes a special person to back down a 150 pound animal that appears to want some of you for lunch. Also, they had with the wolf, between 6 and 30 dogs, most all with wolf blood, which allowed the wolf to be the alpha of a pack, with the “owner” being more an outsider, rather than part of the pack. Although even the wolves he “knew” that felt they actually were the alpha, were not dangerous in a sense; they were very stubborn. Basically, the “owner” was not the boss of them, and damned if they would ever do their bidding.