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Why so much more fuss about wolves than other large predators?

posted Mar 30, 2015, 9:46 AM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Mar 31, 2015, 7:56 PM ]
It's a bit of a mystery, why wolf activists are so focused on wolves. Part of it is that wolves have come back from regional extinctions, so we prize them as rare creatures that were almost lost. Part of it is that some people hate them so much, and are out to destroy them, that we feel a special need to protect them.

But if we were to think more about the contrast of our feelings about wolves to, for example, our feelings about bobcats, we might notice an irrational bias. A MN DNR article about bobcats (Edson 2014) pointed out proudly the numbers of bobcats killed in recent years by trappers and hunters. 1,681 bobcats killed by recreational trappers and 194 by recreational hunters in the 2012-2013 season. Many times more than the recreational killing of wolves, many times more than the hate killing of wolves. Why don't we have "Stop the Hunt" tee shirts for bobcats? 

Because, for some reason, bobcats haven't captured the popular consciousness the way wolves have.

Some would say that we focus too little on bobcats, and that we could learn more about other animals through our interest in wolves. Some would say that we focus to much on wolves, and that we could learn more about the cruelties of nature (and the parts that humans play in them) by learning to "not care" so much about wolves (to the same extent that we don't care so much about bobcats). Each person might learn something from the contrast.

Bobcat kittens (Lynx rufus) in North Texas. Photo by Summer M. Tribble.

Edson, Jacob. 2014. “Bountiful Bobcats.” Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, January 1. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mcvmagazine/issues/2014/jan-feb/bobcats.html.