HOWL Colorado

Call of the wild – The Wolf Returns

IN AUGUST 2011 Desiree Versteeg, a Dutch mortuarist, was driving home in the suburbs of Arnhem in the eastern Netherlands when she saw an animal in the road. “At first I thought it was a dog. Then I thought it was a fox. Then—I couldn’t believe my eyes—I saw it was a wolf.” She got out of the car to take a picture. “I was seven or eight metres away from him. He couldn’t get away because a fence was blocking his path. He turned and stared at me. That was a frightening moment.” Both she and the wolf fled.

From Ms Versteeg’s photographs, and from the carcass of a deer found nearby—its throat torn out in classic wolf fashion—scientists verified that she was the first person to have seen a wolf in the Netherlands since 1897. Having talked to the experts, she now understands that the wolf was probably more frightened than she was. “But all you know at the time is: it’s a wolf, it’s a predator and I’m in its way.”

Ms Versteeg’s experience illustrates a dramatic reversal that has taken place in the West over the past couple of decades. Economic change has led to a fundamental shift in humanity’s attitude to wolves. For the first time since man first sharpened a spear, he has stopped trying to exterminate them and taken to protecting them instead. The effort has been so successful that wolves are recolonising areas from which they disappeared as much as a century ago. As they do so, they are forging revealing divisions over whether mankind can live side-by-side with the species it replaced as the Western world’s top predator…

Read the entire article on economist.com: Call of the wild

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