News on a much-debated topic: Do wolves kill people?

The article mentions the predator response to the woman running. I know from personal experience that dogs like to attack from the safe position of being behind the person(runner). Dogs are easier to fend off with a direct frontal confrontation. In my area there have been several coyote bites from behind also. I confronted a coyote once and it stared me down fearlessly before leaving. So I imagine wolves would prefer to attack from behind and would even be encouraged to attack when confronted with a person’s behind presenting such a defenseless target. A runner is not going to outrun an animal of this sort. If cover is not immediately present, a frontal defense offers the best survival mode. Of course any weapon like a stick or even a shoe would be more menacing.

Wikipedia, for what it’s worth, lists 12 wolf attacks on humans worldwide since 2003, only two of which were in North America.

How many fatalities?

Wolves don’t kill people; werewolves kill people.

And werewolves are also people.

Really, Opal? Would it kill you to actually read the link? It’s a wikipedia article, fer Christ sakes.

First off, I saw a lot of different numbers that looked a lot like “there’s a rumor over in such and such place that x many blah blah” and then here was a huge chart that I didn’t feel like reading and analyzing. Since it was posted with a data point number next to it, I assumed the person posting it (you) had parsed it out, and asked you for a data point that I assumed you would also have.

I don’t come to MPSIMS to spend 45 minutes on a Wikipedia site trying to piece together the heresay from the verified stuff, etc, or to do lots of reasearch, especially when it looks like someone else already did exactly that and it would be much faster to just ask. Worst case scenario, you say “I don’t know, that wasn’t what I was counting.”

And yeah, at 12:39am when I’ve been up all day and I’m trying to keep my eyes open long enough to finish what I’m doing so I can go to sleop, reading and analyzing a bunch of wikipedia stuff including charts/tables is not what I’m, going to spend my time on. I come to the SDMB to enjoy myself and relax. This is MPSIMS not GD or GQ. Or hadn’t you noticed?

Why take such a rude tone when I was just asking a very simple answer that could easily have been answered as “I don’t know, but if you read the wikipedia page it probably says somewhere.” The rudeness in your tone says a whole lot more about you than it does about me.

You remind me of my mother. When I’d ask her how to spell a word, she’d make me look it up in the dictionary even though she knew how to spell it. I can understand that for little kids, to teach them how a dictionary works, but this is when I was in my teens. It’s asking someone to repeat research when you know full and well what the answer is. (Or if you didn’t, you could say that and suggest politely that the wikipedia article might contain that info.)

What is it about the SDMB that makes people stop being nice to others by default? Sheesh.


There’s a book that came out recently (and I’m very sorry that I can’t recall either the title or author), but in the course of explainingh one historical mystery, it claimed that, contrary to current wisdom about wolf attacks being rare, they were, in fact much more common in Europe during the Middle Ages. I have no idea what evidence, if any, he cited for this (I only read a review, not the book itself). If true, it explsains more about the fears people had about the woods and wolves.

Aside from the one in the OP, there was only one post-WWII fatality in North America due to wild wolf attacks, and it was debatable whether that was actually due to wolves. There were also three or four from domesticated wolf attacks.

So yea, at least in North America, wolf attacks in the wild are vanishingly rare.

Not really sure why there are so many more attacks in Eurasia. Perhaps wolves are more aggressive there, or human settlement abuts their habitat more closely. They also seem to favor Belarus specifically, which makes me suspicious if there isn’t just a cultural habit of blaming unexplained deaths on wolves in Belarus.

The only known case in Sweden is some two hundred years old and the wolf had been raised among humans and was therefore not afraid of them.

Like all predators, wolves are opportunists. Whether they’d attempt to kill and eat a human depends on several things: how hungry are the wolves? How easy would it be for them to find other prey? How big is the person they’re looking at? Are there other people close by?

MOST of the time, wolves are probably smart enough to realize “People are fairly big, they’re often armed, they usually have friends nearby… so there’s probably easier prey to be had.” But if a very hungry wolf came upon a small, isolated human, and thought he had surprise on his side… I have no doubt that the wolf would attack.

That DOESN’T mean humans need to live in terror of wolves- just that it’s silly to dismiss all danger, and cling to factoids like “There is no evidence of wolves killing humans.” ANY large predator MIGHT attack you, if it’s hungry enough and if it thinks it has the drop on you.

From what I can recall from my childhood, and a brief stint of living in Montana as an adult, the usual issue folks have with wolves is not that they kill people… most folks living in that region of the country figure if you’re able to be killed by wolves, than the species is better off without you.

The issue is that they believe wolves kill livestock. Which is true, to a very very small extent.

Also, their continued existence gives continual fodder to Wolf Shirts, which is just bad.

I think that overstates the probability. There have been two cases in 60 years in the entire continent of North America. I actually think you can dismiss the danger, at least as far as wild wolves go, or if you don’t, then you also have to remain cautious of other extremely rare causes of death.

Thank you.

It baffles me that this is still debated. Wolf attacks on humans are exceedingly rare, with almost no trustworthy documentation to prove that they have ever happened with remotely any regularity.

Honestly, if you’re in the wild, you’d be in far greater danger from encountering a random human than from encountering a random wolf. And this has been basically true for all of human history.

Among carnivores and other dangerous animals, wolves’ danger to humans is way down the list.

There are no domesticated wolves. There are wolf-dog hybrids which can be incredibly dangerous because too often they have the aggression of dogs and the strength of wolves. If they are raised as pets, the owners leave themselves exposed.

Wolves retain their wild nature and instincts even when brought up in captivity. They are not afraid of human beings. Neither are they interested in killing and eating us. They are interested in maintaining dominance. If you run into one on your way to Grandma’s, avoid eye contact, put your tail between your legs and leave.

Intellectual laziness. Repeated in every thread.

That’s what will tend to make Dopers more than a little snarky.

Wolves don’t even kill as much livestock as they are often blamed for, it’s an excuse for ranchers to kill them.

And Wolf shirts are cool.

Maybe Monsters of the Gévaudan by Jay Smith, about the mystery of the beast of Gévaudan ? I recall reading a review in the LRB some time ago.

I think this all about the disparity between peoples perception of the danger of wolves versus the reality. Wolves make themselves known through vocalization, and people hear this and inflate the danger. Most predators are silent, and the bear you don’t see or hear may be more dangerous than the wolf that you do, but you are not receiving any cues that stoke the fear of bears. Besides being social animals and communicating, wolves may also use vocalization to drive prey to flee to the point of exhaustion. The wolves have much greater stamina than most of their prey, and have an easier time taking down large prey after running them down. So over time, humans have had their fear of wolves culturally enhanced, and reinforced by their own senses, even if they know of no particular attack.