Wolves in France—The Hunt Is On

A wolf (canis lupus)

The wolf risks extermination in France (Image via Wikipedia).

It seems we are on the verge of declaring a new war against the wolf in France. If so, we could exterminate them in the region once and for all. Antoine Agasse writes on July 28, 2011, on physorg.com, the article “Ravenous  wolves  colonise France,  terrorise  shepherds.”

He writes, “Regional authorities estimate the French wolf population at between 170 and 200 this year, up from 140 to 170 last year. The government says wolves killed 1,329 animals, mostly sheep, in France this year up to July 22.” (203 days)

This means the wolves killed almost exactly one sheep per wolf a month (if all 1329 were sheep). Estimating the average weight of a sheep at 150 pounds (68 Kg), each wolf should be eating about 4.9 pounds (2.23 Kg) per day.

Gray wolves, Canis lupus lupus, can survive on about 2.5 pounds (1.1 Kg) of food per wolf per day, but they need about 7 pounds (3,2 Kg) per wolf per day to reproduce successfully. Adult wolves can survive for days and even weeks without food if they have to.

This implies that, either the French wolves are not (cannot) be ravenous as the article claims (“Ravenous  wolves  colonise  France,  terrorise  shepherds”), each wolf consuming 4.9 pounds (2.23 Kg) sheep meat per day (plus high probably also supplementing their sheep diet with other food sources,) or the estimated number of wolves and killed sheep is wrong.

“One such pack of fearless wolves swooped on a flock in broad daylight under the noses of two shepherds and five sheep dogs (…)”

Wolves don’t do that unless they are sick, e.g. rabid, which has not been reported. My guess is that either (1) they didn’t, or (2) they were not wolves, but maybe hybrids or even feral or stray dogs (as earlier confirmed on other locations. e.g. on the Abruzzi mountains in Italy).

“Police in the Alps told AFP they had authorised one such hit last weekend after a wolf devoured 10 sheep and sent a further 62 in panic plunging to their deaths in a ravine. Thirty went missing in the overnight attack.”

10 sheep equals about 1500 pounds (680 Kg) of meat. The most a large gray wolf can eat at one time is about 22.5  pounds (10.2 Kg). An animal that devours 10 sheep and is still hungry to send 62 away in panic (plus 30 missing) is not a wolf, but maybe a fiction-wolf!

“The state has already paid out 364,000 euros (530,000 dollars) to farmers and shepherds such as Vignon this year to compensate them for their mauled sheep.”

364,000 EUR for 1329 sheep gives a price of 273.90 EUR per sheep (if all the 1326 animals killed by wolves were sheep). Not a bad price at all and better than to sell sheep on the market where a good purebred will fetch no more than 200 EUR.

“The head of the regional council, Jean-Louis Bianco, insisted however: “The wolf is no longer an endangered species.”

The wolves were extinct in France until recently. 200 wolves in France with an annual growth rate of 30 (15%) is no guaranty that they won’t be extinct soon again. This population growth has had a narrow genetic base, similar to the Scandinavian wolves, which  are more closely related to one another than full siblings. In Sweden the wolf population has grown in the last five years at a rate of about 19% and the Swedish government wants to keep them under 210 individuals.

He continues, “The shepherds and their flocks are the endangered species.”

Maybe by the EU subsidies, certainly not by the wolf!

Keep smiling and howling.


Planet Earth has no Immune Response to Viral Attack

Dodo, based on Roelant Savery's 1626 painting ...

The Dodo, extinct since the mid-to-late 17th century (Image via Wikipedia).

The agricultural revolution caused by humans is the single widest ecological change in the 3.5 billion-year history of life, with more profound effects than the (probable) comet that hit Earth 65 mya. years ago. The invention of agriculture allowed humans to manipulate other species for their own use (animals as well as plants) which meant that humans did not need any longer to belong to any ecosystem‘s carrying capacities—hence the human population increased and spread rapidly. With the agricultural revolution, humans ceased to live with nature and began to live outside it.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors played particular roles in their local ecosystems. They had their own niches. With the agricultural revolution, humans stepped outside ecosystems. Agriculture was an overt declaration of war on ecosystems; it meant restricting land to produce a few crops and combat all other life until extermination. With it, native plant species became weeds and all but a few domesticated species of animals became pests.

Then, came the industrial revolution and with it another ecological catastrophe. The use of factories and mass production led to a loss of natural resources, leaving the environment permanently damaged. Deforestation left the wildlife in the forest uprooted and many species became endangered while others disappeared forever. If earlier, the humans had declared war only on those other life forms, which disrupted its own form of living, they now proceeded, in the air and in the seas as well on land, to kill indiscriminately. Extermination became synonymous with collateral damage.

The primary reasons for the extinction of species is environmental change or biological competition. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, many biologically classified species have gone extinct: 83 species of mammals, 113 species of birds, 23 species of amphibians and reptiles, 23 species of fish, about 100 species of invertebrates, and over 350 species of plants. Scientists can only estimate the number of unclassified species that have gone extinct. Using various methods of extrapolation, biologists estimate that in 1991 between 4000 to 50,000 unclassified species became extinct, mainly in the tropics, due to human activities. This rate of extinction is some 1,000 to 10,000 times greater than the natural rate of species extinction (2-10 species per year) before the human agricultural and industrial revolutions.

If with the agricultural revolution, we set ourselves aside the rest of the world and enslaved the very same nature of which we were born, with the industrial revolution, we embarked on a systematic and rapid mass destruction of our planet and its life. The terms weeds and pests assumed yet a broader meaning. We dealt with thousands of species that were in our way efficiently and once and for all; the entire planet became the niche and property of one sole species, other surviving species living at its mercy; and the human population grew virally by billions!

Planet Earth on the Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, seems to have no immune response to the viral attack by this agent called Homo sapiens sapiens.

(To be continued)

Life is great, isn’t it?


A Newborn is Perfect and You are a Survivor

A newborn is as perfect as it will ever get (Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net).

A newborn is as perfect as it will ever get, its brain and senses wide open. From then on, it can only go downwards. Some go dramatically down (most), repressed and oppressed by the environmental conditions. They survive though, some better than others. Others (the few lucky ones) only get their potential reduced by a margin dictated by the inexorable selective environmental exposure. Like a mirage, they develop into balanced, happy adults.

Paradoxically enough (inevitable as well), the loving parents, even the educated and well-intentioned, are the cause number one of the newborn’s fall. From day one, the parents begin teaching the newborn the science and art of survival, which includes a variety of skills. They begin limiting the newborn’s potential, creating likes and dislikes, fears and phobias, ambitions and illusions, the notion of the good and of the bad, fixed patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. Some of it is inevitable and will serve the newborn well for the rest of its life. Most of it is harmful, serves no practical purpose and will be excess baggage in adulthood for which one will continually have to pay a high fee.

For the balanced, well-intentioned parents, the problem is to train the newborn to succeed in a world that is not there yet. Parents train their offspring to be successful adults in their own world, not the world when the offspring will reach adulthood and will have to fence for themselves. Most parents teach their offspring particular skills and norms that will be obsolete once they become adults. Partly, this is inevitable once the cultural environment changes faster than any genetic evolution can cope with, which is our case. Our brain is still roughly the same as the brain of our stone age ancestors. The environmental and social pressures it has to cope with are not.

So what can we do? It seems to me that a solid agenda for any parent, one resistant to time and change, is to create for their young a close contact to nature, of which we are a part. We must awake our sense of the beautiful and the good, of wondering rather than rejecting, of ‘living it’ rather than ‘analyzing it,’ of open-mindedness and acceptance rather than pettiness and oppression. We must re-awake our values long obscured and repressed by scientism, technomorphia, and political correctness; re-awake our perception of entirety before particularity.

You are a survivor. You’ve done well, but you don’t need to stop there, no matter the odds. The next step, alas the most difficult, is to take away the ‘sur’ in survive, leaving only ‘vive’ back, which means ‘to live’. ‘Living,’ rather than ‘living in spite of,’ seems to me to be the ultimate goal.

Keep smiling. Life is great!


Why do We have Dogs?

We wanna go for a walk !

Image by ZedZAP via Flickr

We all have dogs because it pleases us and we feel good about having them. One way or another, dog ownership satisfies one or more of our specific needs. The problem is when we don’t realize it or don’t want to admit it. When we do, we are grateful, we know that we are in debt to them and we want to pay them back (or forward), preferably with dividends. When we don’t, we fall into a series of pseudo explanations, easy interpretations, knee-jerk solutions—and that’s abuse.

I have a deep respect for all life independently of species and race. It appears to me that the dog/owner relationship, in this one aspect, should not be much different from any other relationship, be it with a spouse, a lover, a friend, a parent, a child. We should be content with what we get and not ask for what we can’t get. We should never take any relationship for granted. Every new day should be one more day we should feel privileged to share with that particular living being.

At least, that’s how I see it.

Have a great day!


Hello World!

Welcome to my site on WordPress.com. I will be blogging about life, evolution, biology, animal behavior, traveling, and much more.

Please, feel free to comment and add your own thoughts. I’d like to turn my site into the spot where variation is welcome, where all we can question shall be questioned, where to wonder and to ponder are natural occurrences and where everything enjoyable shall be enjoyed.

Be open-minded and remember that mostly you see what you are thinking and feeling, seldom what you are looking at.

Respect all life independently of species and race and remember that respect for others begins with self-respect.

Keep smiling, life is great!

Roger Abrantes