19 October 2012 The Big, Bad Myth Posted by: John Motsinger | 3 comments | Share: For Wolf Awareness Week 2012, we’re sharing some of our favorite facts about wolves. Help us spread the word by sharing the image below on Facebook. It’s no surprise that the wolf gets a bad rap. For many of us, our first exposure to wolves was the “big, bad wolf” we heard about as children in bedtime stories. But did you know that Charles Perrault’s original printed version of Little Red Riding Hood had nothing to do with actual wolves? The story was told in the late 17th century court of King Louis XIV, at a time when the French aristocracy was concerned about beguiling men in the streets taking advantage of their daughters. It was meant as a cautionary tale regarding the corruption of young women, and the moral was to be wary of strangers, especially predatory men, not to have an irrational fear of local wildlife. To our knowledge, real wolves have never blown down a pig’s house either, but such fairy tales designed to frighten people may have led to the demise of wolves in European cultures. Wolves were essentially eradicated from much of central and northern Europe during the 19th century, and prejudices against them followed to the New World. As a result, wolf populations up and down the East Coast were eliminated around the same time. In the early 20th century, government-sponsored eradication programs wiped out most of the remaining wolves from the West to make the land more suitable for raising livestock. Today, wolves are back in many parts of the country, but Defenders is still fighting an uphill battle to overcome centuries of anti-wolf persecution. Fortunately, efforts like Wolf Awareness Week are helping us tell a new story about wolves—one that emphasizes their value as a keystone species. In places like Yellowstone National Park, we’ve seen the return of wolves have a positive and cascading effect on parts of the ecosystem. Wolves keep elk herds on the move and away from sensitive wetland and riparian areas, allowing streamside willow and aspen trees to recover in some areas. With more trees available, fish and songbirds are returning and beaver colonies are expanding. Wolves also keep coyote populations in check, which means more pronghorn antelope fawn survive and red foxes have less competition for food. Thus, more wolves = greater biodiversity = healthier environment. It’s time to replace those old notions of the “big, bad wolf” with a fuller understanding of the important role that wolves play in maintaining nature’s balance. All of us can do our part to help set the record straight. 3 Responses to “The Big, Bad Myth” Louise Jolly October 25th, 2012 Anytime someone can help dispel a myth about our animals, it’s important for people to read. The more people that see, read and understand these articles the better. THANK YOU for doing your part to help keep our wolves!! Ashley November 13th, 2012 :). Shared! Millie Sheen November 18th, 2012 seriously people?! why do they believe in fairy tales or do they us it as an excuse to kill wolves? Just leave the wolves alone they are not going to huff and puff until they blow your house down! Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in The Votes Are In… You voted, and we listened – now the winners of Defenders’ 2014 Photo Contest are here! See if your favorite won, and take a look at some of the amazing runner-ups. We’ve Got to Protect What’s Left of the Sagebrush Sea New research shows that after a fire, the Sagebrush Sea (home to the imperiled greater sage-grouse) could take up to 20 years to fully recover. With other factors already threatening so much of this habitat, what does that mean for the species that call it home? California prepares to welcome wolves home, but delays on providing state protections Now, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to remove Endangered Species Act protection for wolves throughout most of the rest of the country, gray wolves are once again at risk. Delisting would short-circuit wolf recovery in the Pacific West and would effectively mean giving up on one of our country’s most important and iconic species. Fortunately, California has an opportunity to play a meaningful role in helping the gray wolf continue to recover in the coming months and years.