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.