A frequent part of horror and fantasy fiction the wolf is a character that people frequently get wrong so this month we talked with Pamela Rout of the wild Canid Survival and research center to help us portray them accurately.
How did the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center get started and how did you get involved with it? What made you decide to study wolves?
The Center was started in 1971 by Dr. Marlin Perkins, his wife Carol and a few friends. They realized that wolf numbers were drastically decreasing in the wild and wanted to help. I became involved with center 6 years ago. I was working at the St.
Louis Zoo at the time. Since I was a child I have loved wolves and to be able to work here has been a dream come true. Unlike a zoo, our animals get to go out into the wild and don’t have to live in a small space their whole lives which is another reason I love working here.
What do you think is the most common misconception about wolves today?
That they are the big bad wolf that people read about in story books. People who live in areas that have wolves, think that the wolves will eat thier children or will chase them. When in actuality, wolves will stay away from humans. They are the ones afraid of us!
Can Wolves or wolf- hybrids ever truly be domesticated? What is the usual relationship between them and the people who keep them or with other people?
This is a difficult question and I deal with this a lot in my lectures and my job. NO, wolves cannot be domesticated;
yes they may be trained but will ALWAYS maintain a level of wildness. I have seen horrible things in my career as to what happens when people own a hybrid or wolf. They will eventually turn on them, wanting to become the alpha. They need
huge space requirements, diet requirements, can’t be around other pets or small children. Some will argue that they have
had one as a pet and they have never had any problems, but that is very rare. Ultimately, it hurts the image of the wolf. We have spent years trying to dispell the myth of the big bad wolf and every time a hybrid or wolf pet hurts a human, it reverses
all of the work we have done!
Are there any movies or books that are fictional but you think portray wolves correctly?
As far as movies, unfortunately I can’t think of any. All of the movies that have wolves in them portray them as friendly and trainable or that it is possible to live with them and that is not what it should be portraying. The only ones I know of would be
documentaries from the discovery channel or something like that. AS far as books, there are some really good
children’s books, like Julie of the Wolves or the Big Bad Wolf is Good,
If people are looking to learn more about wolves what are some good sources for accurate information? Obviously our website- www.wildcanidcenter.org or Defenders of Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife website.
What is the most surprising thing your have learned while you have been studying and caring for wolves?
What amazes me is how strong their family bonds are, especially the mated pairs. When one mate dies, the other mate actually mourns, and the same goes when a female loses her pup, she will actually try to revive them and will mourn when unsuccessful.
If people want some more information about your center or to arrange a visit where should they go?
Go to the website but the best way is simply to