Are Wolves Dangerous?

Do wolves pose a threat to humans?

Little Red Riding-hood. The three little pigs. Peter and the Wolf. The boy who cried wolf.

We all grew up hearing stories about wolves. And in them, the wolf was always the big, bad, evil creature that wanted to eat the hero or heroine.

What is the truth?

The short answer is simple: No! Wolves do not pose a threat to humans.
The long answer is: It’s complicated.

Before we get into the “complicated” part, let’s look at some simple facts. ALL of these animals attack, injure and kill more people every year than wolves:

  • Bears
  • Sharks
  • Cougars
  • Dogs
  • Snakes
  • Bees

But do you want to know what one animal in North America kills more people every year than bears, sharks, cougars, dogs, snakes, bees AND wolves combined? Here’s a hint:

No, deer do not attack humans. But they do kill us. How? Here’s another hint:

The truth is, the deer population has absolutely exploded. And as the number of deer climb, so do the number of fatalities due to car crashes with deer. Why is the deer population so out of control?

One reason is because we, humans, have learned to hate the one animal that can most help keep their population in check: the wolf. How ironic that our ancient hatred towards wolves, and our efforts to eradicate them, has actually increased the number of human deaths!

Ok, back to wolves attacking people:

Yes, there are documented cases of wolves attacking, and even killing humans. But here are some things to keep in mind:

  • These attacks are so rare it’s hardly even worth mentioning
  • Many of these attacks involve wolves that were rabid (a rabid squirrel will also attack humans) or otherwise sick
  • Other wolf attacks on humans happened because the wolf had grown too accustomed to humans, often because someone was feeding the wolf

What should I do if I see a wolf in the wild?

  • First of all, you probably won’t. If you are in wolf country, they will probably spot you, and avoid you, long before you see them.
  • Remember: Wolves are JUST as scared of you as you are of them.
  • But if you DO happen to see a wolf, just do nothing. They probably will just walk away.
  • Unlike cougars, wolves to not intentionally hunt humans. They just want to be left alone, and to leave us alone.

More Information

98sppfWho’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf is an excellent article written by wolf biologist David Mech. It goes into much more detail and history about the history and truth about wolf attacks on humans.

Wikipedia has an in-depth article detailing the rare, long and compacted history of wolf attacks on humans.

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