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The Idle American
Wolves on the Prowl...
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 • Posted February 15, 2012

Wolves have gotten generally “bad raps” for the longest time. Alaskan grey wolves were lurking about during the most recent Ice Age, several thousand years ago, and the species—Genus Canis— has been “dogged” by wolves’ behavior. Jackals and coyotes—other members of the species—don’t get as much bad press, and dogs feel their family linkage with any of ‘em is a monumental genetic foul-up.It didn’t help that “were” was added to “wolves” in frightening stories from the Middle Ages. Later, in “Little Red Riding Hood”—a folk tale oft retold—“big/bad” preceded the wolf’s name. The nerve of that wolf, trying to pass himself off as the little girl’s grandmother by merely dressing in her nightie and pulling the bed covers high around his neck.It is noted that some wolves pick up on the masquerade thing, wearing—of all things—sheep clothing. One— greatly obsessed with putting down the three little pigs—over-estimated his huffing and puffing skills. Others in masquerade huff and puff themselves into public office….*****Whatever, wolves have also taken it on the chin, playing scary creatures in horror movies. Count Dracula called the shots in some of ‘em. We mustered courage as kids to take on the scariest movies at matinees, but going to the movies in the dark of night was out of the question. Suffice it to say that wolves’ image remains messy. Little wonder that kids rarely check to see if they have any wolf pups at the pet store. (And when Mrs. Hitler named her son Adolph, she likely didn’t clear it with the wolves. It means “noble wolf,” so she got his name only half right.)…*****Don’t look now, but the mysterious creatures are back in the news, big time. Drought conditions have forced them out of the wilds and into neighborhoods to forage for food. In some areas, they enjoy immunity with endangered species status that is “on again/off again,” depending on wolf populations in various regions.Their fierce attacks pulled off in pack fashion are taking tolls on animals as large as cattle. In Michigan, bovine owners are frustrated but often handcuffed by protective regulations. So far, “shooing ‘em off” hasn’t worked worth a flip.And never underestimate the cinematic powers of Hollywood to paint frightening pictures of whatever it chooses. Currently, a motion picture entitled “The Grey” features wolves scaring the bejeebers out of human folk. Yep, wolves are back….*****Several years ago, the sheep population in West Texas was taking regular hits from marauding wolves that licked their chops over lamb chops and other cuts of mutton.Ranchers were frantic, unable to protect their flocks against wolf attacks.A Texas A&M researcher visited the area, promising a “can’t miss” solution. One little old lady, a rancher for decades, found anyone pushing “book-learning” to be highly suspect, and the Ph.D. in front of the prof’s name made it worse….*****She went to the meeting to hear his pitch, certain that his theoretical stuff wouldn’t work in the real world. At first, she sat still, this little woman with skin weathered by the snows of many winters, her gray hair bunned in back. She silently thought “strike two” before the guy opened his mouth.His initial statement did her in….*****“You folks are in luck,” he said. “We’ve concocted a new chemical at Texas A&M that will solve your problems. Just soak raw meat in the solution and throw it out on the range. When male wolves chow down on it, they become sterile.”The little old lady leaped from her chair, standing pine tree tall. All eyes of her 100 or so rancher friends darted her way.“Send him on back to College Station,” she yelled, “He don’t even understand the problem. The wolves ain’t assaulting the sheep, they’re eatin’ ‘em!”…*****One fellow, hopelessly in arrears with the IRS, sent in a $5 check. He cited all manner of ill fortune, apologetic that he was able to send so little.There was, however, a single ray of sunshine in his cloudy lament.“I couldn’t even send the $5 except for unexpected good fortune,” he wrote. “The wolf that has been at my door for weeks had pups, and I got $5 for ‘em at our garage sale.”…*****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Inquiries/comments: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site:

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