A few posts back i was joking about wolves on the edge of town..and later it occurred to me that i was practically playing the role of the boy who cried wolf. Why? Well, because even as i was making the joke (‘crying wolf’) and commenting on how far away the wolves really were..a few kilometers down the road from where i live a dead wolf was found on the road, just two months ago now. Apparently run over by a vehicle during the night, the animal’s lifeless body caused quite a stir locally. See here..and here (with fotos) for reports.
Since the reappearance of the wolf in the Sierra de Guadarrama a few years back, and the subsequent reports of attacks on livestock, there has been some debate about what is clearly a controversial issue. From the point of view of Nature conservationists, the presence of the wolf is obviously a good thing, desirable both for the wolf in its own right and for the wolf as a fundamental player in a complex ecosystem which will benefit from the influence of an apex predator. In recent years the expansion of ibex (cabra montés) and wild boar (jabalí) populations in the Sierra has resulted in the need to cull hundreds of animals. The action of a large predator like the wolf could transform this – and other – scenarios. For many conservationists, the prime example of trophic cascade – dramatic changes within an ecosystem caused by the presence/absence of predators at the top of the food chain – is the return of the wolf to Yellowstone in the 1990s and the surprising – and far-reaching – consequences of this return. If you are interested in this question, check out George Monbiot talking about ‘rewilding’ at TED:
Livestock owners and hunters have a different point of view. They see their interests as potentially damaged and strongly contest the view that the wolf is a good thing. Some people in the conservationist lobby would point to a certain amount of alarmist publicity given to supposed wolf attacks recently. Even directly falsified reports of attacks. Earlier this year a curious video circulated Europe showing security camera footage of a night-time snowy environment in which a wolf appears and proceeds to kill a smallish guard-dog. The video was apparently presented to media networks in various countries, Germany among others, as a local recording. I have heard that it was even presented in Spain as representing an incident taking place at a well-known Guadarrama ski station! It turned out that the video was Russian in origin.
As a pro-conservationist i obviously endorse the presence of the wolf in Guadarrama, but it is very comfortable to do this while the wolf is 60-70km away in the Northern Sierras. As somebody who likes to sleep out at night in the Summer it’s a little less comfortable..to suddenly have the wolf on one’s doorstep. Rewilding, making the world wild once more, refers not only to rewilding other but also to rewilding self.. and the challenge posed to humans in this idea of rewilding, rewilding oneself, is a very interesting challenge indeed.