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Science hunts "Fear," Wolf hunts Elk, Man hunts Wolf | High Sierra Backpacker

Science hunts "Fear," Wolf hunts Elk, Man hunts Wolf

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 22 June 2018



Canis lupus

Landscape of Fear or Fools?

Who's Hunting Who?

Science hunts "Fear," Wolf hunts Elk, Man hunts Wolf

Yellowstone's 'landscape of fear' not so scary after all,
S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, June 22, 2018.

Landscape of Fear?

The Original Research

"...some scientists thought the large predator reestablished a 'landscape of fear' that caused elk, the wolf's main prey, to avoid risky places..."

"...fueled the emerging idea that predators affect prey populations and ecosystems not only by eating prey animals, but by scaring them too."

Not So Much

Refutation: The Research Above

"Contrary to popular belief, the wolf is not a round-the-clock threat to elk; it mostly hunts at dawn and dusk, and this allows elk to safely access risky places during nightly lulls in wolf activity."

"GPS data showed that wolves were about as inactive in the middle of the night as they were in the middle of the day."

Bottom Line

It's disturbing how far removed from the practices of Nature many scientists are, and how deeply they frame animal behavior from the perspective of completely urbanized Western humans.

A significant part of many animal's consciousness and the focus of their physical assets are tuned-to, and constantly engaged in searching for threats to their existence. This behavior makes many animals, "who they are," with the remainder of their energy and assets distributed between seeking food and mating, behaviors that "round-out" the frameworks of their various "characters," as they engage with the environment and each other.

The Combustion Chambers of the Engine of Life

The interface between  between prey and predator, between life and death, is the forefront, the very outer boundary of every animal's life, as prey or predator, where their perception, behavior, and practices are going to determine if they will continue to survive, and just how they will continue to power the web of life.

At the cutting edge of this evolutionary forefront, "fear" only matters if it improves or detracts from both the prey and predator's ability to survive. The research above seems to give "fear" some higher "moral" status for "judging" this particular ecosystem. That’s a manipulation, a human distortion of the situation.

The human excitement generated by framing this as a "landscape of fear" subtly shifts the analysis to an emotional and moral judgment of Nature by Western American-human "moral" standards. The phrase itself, "Landscape of Fear" is emotionally and morally charged.

Judging the totality of these complex prey-predator behaviors through the lens of such a subjective, propagandistic concept by framing this complex predator-prey relationship as a, "landscape of fear," fragments these complex interrelated behaviors, and their ancient mutual evolution under a cheap human conception of "fear."

This may be entertaining for us, but clouds clear thinking and blocks full understanding.

This kind of moralistic "approach" does little to reveal the real dynamics at play between predator and prey, but hides them under human emotional judgments. Ecosystems do not operate under human rules or morals.

All's I can tell you is Don't stand in front of scared elk.

Just such human fears associated with wolves have long painted as wolves as "bad" critters, and have justified hunting them to extinction around the world, due to the fears they generate (in the minds of scientists?), echoes of which we can hear today through this "scientific," "landscape of fear" approach.


I've watched "Network News" in the US become little more than cheap "info-tainment," while the framing of the wolf research above speaks towards our parallel evolution of "info-science."

Both "infotainment" and "infoscience" use emotional titillation generally focused on fear, greed, and desire to motivate and assure an emotional response, rather than using clear observation and analysis to achieve a deeper understanding of these complex relationships. Let me help:

"Critters naturally and properly get scared when they're fighting for their lives."

Wolves eat cattle and elk, putting themselves in competition with humans. Human competition alone has spelled death for many, many species, including wolves, without deploying the emotional justifications of fear and cruelty that makes killing wolves even easier.

Wolves are not "bad" because they create a "landscape of fear" that scares other animals, even if we do judge them by our quite-limited & self-serving human social standards, and even if we do find it true that the "lions, the tigers, and the bears," (and the wolves) are "scary."

Oh My!

We all know what happened to the wolf that threatened Little Red Riding Hood... and most of the lions and tigers and bears are long gone...


Wolves, Elk, & Man

Wolf populations continue to hurt prime elk country in Idaho,
Missoulian, 2012.


It’s the Wolves!
Letter, Missoulian, 2012


Bears too,
Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 2012



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