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Fear of wolves in Germany highlights conservation issues and the future of our planet

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (14 votes)

Flayrah_wolf.jpgThe wolf is by far the most popular fursona species but, as a recent opinion piece in Deutsche Welle pointed out, they are not universally loved. In Germany, like many places in Europe, wolves were driven to extinction and it was only in 2000, after approximately 150 years, that wild wolves were born in Germany once again. Many people, particularly farmers, are worried about wolf attacks on their livestock – echoing our previous reporting of wolves in France– while others are concerned about the risk to humans. But this conflict is about more than wolves; the conversations about wolves are intertwined with much larger issues.

Discussions around wolves show both the fear of the wild and the human desire to eliminate all danger while seeing themselves not only as superior to other animals but, to use the Biblical terminology, granted dominion over them. This is seen in sentiments that even question the right of other animals, such as wolves, to exist in "our" world.

"Wolves do not fit into our civilization any longer," she said, adding that her fear of wolves means she no longer enjoys walking in the countryside.

Over time, more and more evidence has accumulated that, due these attitudes, we are responsible for a widespread decline in animal populations and species that leave us with a dangerously low level of biodiversity. This is termed the sixth extinction.

The_Fence_by_Daniel_Quinn.jpg
The extent and speed at which we have decimated animal lives is absolutely shocking. Over our short time on this planet we are predicted to have caused the loss of approximately 2,5 billion years of mammalian evolutionary history. It would likely take at least 3-7 million years to recover the sort of diversity we have destroyed. Another recent report calculates that, since 1970, we have reduced animal populations by 60%! These are not outlying reports. A study from last year, suggested that insect populations in Germany decreased by 75% over the last 30 years. Given that insects pollinate the vast majority of flowering plants from which we obtain most of our food, this is serious news. Earlier this year, another report stated that humans have caused the loss of 83% of mammals and 50% of plants. Furthermore, it estimates that, by weight, only 4% of the mammals on earth are wild animals, the rest is made up of only humans and livestock. The situation is slightly better for birds but, even there, 70% are chickens and other poultry. You would think that these dramatic losses would spur dramatic actions to preserve biodiversity. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Preservation of wildlife is a topic that overlaps significantly with the environment and climate change. However, only 11% of Americans who support a Republican candidate, such as the current US president, think that climate change is an important issue. That allows Donald Trump to do things such as lessening environmental protections in the US and pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. Barring a nuclear war, those actions are probably the worst decisions of his entire presidency and could have potentially irreversible, global consequences. Republicans in the US are also responsible for suppressing research on wolves and ways to limit conflict between wolves and humans.

The left wing of the political spectrum is not much better. While generally acknowledging the importance of protecting the environment, there is very little actual action. Indeed sometimes the actions that are taken are misguided and counter productive, drawing energy into pointless projects of limited value. For example, there has been a recent fight against plastic pollution and plastic straws in particular. While this means well, plastic straws are less than 0,03% of the plastic pollution in the ocean, 46% of which actually comes from discarded fishing nets. And green political groups, whose main focus is on the environment, are largely against nuclear power and genetically-modified organisms. In both, cases they promote anti-science views that are far more harmful to the environment than the technologies they fear.

The worst part about all of this, is that we were warned about climate change over 100 years ago! Now, we have an estimated ten years to get our act together. So, what can we actually do? We can try push people in government to take meaningful action. The UK will ban new diesel and petrol cars in 2040. That's too late. We need to switch to fully renewable energy. People want it and example after example after example shows that it is possible. To paraphrase a Chinese proverb, the best time to take action was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.

Flayrah-cattle.pngOur personal choices are also important in limiting our impact on other creatures and the environment. Not having children is great for the environment but so is adopting a more, if not exclusively, vegetarian diet. Diet is one of those topics which people seldom approach in a rational manner. The furry fandom recently had a whole drama where one of the issues was furs killing animals for their own pleasure. This was widely and correctly condemned. However, often one hears that furs still eat meat because "it tastes so good." That is just the same; killing an animal because of the pleasure it brings. The pleasure is not so much in the act of killing as the latter consumption of the flesh, especially given as most furs do not hunt and kill their own meat, but the overall outcome is the same. Other justifications also fall flat. Eating meat is not, in any way, necessary for one's health. And arguments that we evolved or are intended to eat meat fall into the trap of trying to derive an "ought" from an "is," a fallacy which was described nearly 300 years ago. Alpha_Ki released a furry cookbook at Eurofurence 24 where all the recipes have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions (Available from Fusselschwarm in Europe and Rabbit Valley in the US.) which should make it easy to adapt. I would also like to point out that a large-scale switch to a vegetarian diet would not only be healthier, save space, save water and reduce carbon emissions but it would also greatly reduce our friction with wolves.

So what is the final message? The world is complex and it can be very problematic to look at issues in isolation; all things are connected. Our attitudes to wolves, echoes our attitudes to many other species and helps us understand much larger issues such as climate change. Tensions with wolves are also driven from many different sources. Our own choices, such as diet, can even create unnecessary conflict. Looking to the future, the fate of wolves, in Germany, France and beyond, can also serve as a proxy for the fate of our world as we know it. Wolves are a keystone species whose presence ripples through the environment. When they were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park, it helped set off a chain of events which increased biodiversity, stabilised natural populations and even changed the physical geography of the land.

The environment needs wolves. And we humans do not exist separately to the rest of the world; we are all connected and we will all share the same fate in the end. We need wolves.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (11 votes)

I'm gonna read this later but depending on how this article is responded to I'm gonna start just writing about whatever and then making a single tenuous link to furry so that it can be published here. get ready

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (11 votes)

That seems like an odd response. Stories about animals and/or conservation issues have long been a feature of Flayrah. You expressed no such worries in my article on wolves in France from 7 years ago. There were no complaints on Fred's story about world conservation day in 2016, Ringtailedfox's story about highways and snakes in 2011 or CrossAffliction's article on tigers from 2010.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 3.1 (10 votes)

I don't remember any of the stories you're talking about. Was I even here 7-8 years ago? I would have been in middle school, I think. Anyway, not concern, I completely endorse it, it just set off, like, a lightbulb in my head. One that I guess those others didn't...probably just from the way you link it to furry in the opening paragraph.

Your rating: None Average: 1.4 (9 votes)

I feel attacked over here.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (7 votes)

Oh hush, you know you're my favorite.

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (11 votes)

I should note, Ed Yong writes about the "animal populations reduced by 60%" report in The Atlantic and clarifies a few things.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/10/have-we-really-kille...

The good news is that the 60% figure is the average decrease in population size. Due to the animals that were measured having different population sizes, it does not mean that the number of animals has decreased by 60%.

To understand the distinction, imagine you have three populations: 5,000 lions, 500 tigers, and 50 bears. Four decades later, you have just 4,500 lions, 100 tigers, and five bears (oh my). Those three populations have declined by 10 percent, 80 percent, and 90 percent, respectively—which means an average decline of 60 percent. But the total number of actual animals has gone down from 5,550 to 4,605, which is a decline of just 17 percent.

The bad news is that some animals have increased in population size, which means that others have decreased even more dramatically.

The average 60 percent decline across populations also obscures the fates of individual species. In the hypothetical scenario above, lions are still mostly fine, the tigers are in trouble, and the bears are on the brink of extinction. And of the species covered in the actual Living Planet Index, half are increasing in number, while only half are decreasing. This means that for those that are actually in decline, the outlook is even worse than it first appears.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (5 votes)

This reminded me of a recent article about where most of the remaining wilderness still exists.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (5 votes)

To be fair to the rest of the world, Brazil, the U.S., Australia, Canada and Russia are also 5 of the top 6 biggest countries (China just pushes Australia out of the top five), and some countries probably aren't even big enough to have enough landmass to qualify.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

True - Canada's really big, and look what fits into Russia.

Your rating: None Average: 1.6 (9 votes)

I mean, vegetarianism and all, but at the very least fuck dairy.

There's like urban legends about old Cold War missile silos that are now full of just cheese that dairy farmers can't get rid of.

And you do realize that cows, just like all other mammals, don't actually, you know lactate unless they've just given birth, so they basically have to be pregnant, like, a lot, so I'd imagine that a large percentage of the problem with cows is actually dairy, not meat production. Which is not to argue the main point about meat consumption, just to point out fuck dairy.

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (10 votes)

That is a good point but certainly a harder sell.

I am not vegan. I think you can get eggs and milk ethically, just the large scale farming is not done very well. That said, although cheese and yoghurt is still a big part of my diet, I don't buy eggs myself any more (I will eat them though) and I buy soy milk. Sometimes I even get vegan cheese.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 1.4 (9 votes)

What if you actually committed to something for once

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (8 votes)

If the consumption of cattle as meat was nullified, I can't imagine it would be feasible for a dairy market to continue to exist, and purchasing dairy is pretty clearly subsidizing the environmental impact of cattle.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (8 votes)

The human sentiment that wolves or other animals should no longer exist comes from something beyond human exceptionalism. After all, the mode of production under which we live, and which dominates the globe, exploits more than just animals - people, land, even air is evaluated on an economic basis. This is done only with regards to the demands of capital, not Earth’s biome. In the US, this is exemplified among other ways by the history of grazing animals. Grazing herbivores are essential for healthy soil, biodiversity, and control of brush fires, but for a long time we’ve cultivated our main agricultural grazing mammal (cattle) in ways that result in the opposite: poor soil, deforestation, overgrazing. In addition, the US hunted its natural grazing herbivores (notably, the bison) near to extinction in order to satisfy a two-pronged economic desire: the fur trade, and to pressure Indigenous peoples reliant on them for food onto reservations.

Focus on inane things like plastic straw use is therefore easily understood. It’s a small action people can take to make themselves feel more in control of the ecological crisis we’ve put the world in. Furthermore, it’s a consumer activity, and not even the real root of the problem, so it’s therefore nonthreatening to the capitalist class. In fact it promotes the myth that the consumer class is a free choice with which one controls their life - rather than a role imposed by violence.

Veganism as a movement suffers from this problem, too, because it’s also a consumer activity. We know that attempts at environmental activism through consumerism exacerbates the issue, only helps capitalism’s environmental destruction because that’s what’s been true before. Moderate eco-activists who pressed for increased energy efficiency succeeded in making energy consumption increase. The decreased cost resulted in increased accessibility - people used more than ever before. Plus, ecological veganism ignores the complete evidence we have that meat consumption is not the problem. After all, Rakuen, circumpolar indigenous peoples, who traditionally eat a mostly-meat diet, have also lived much more harmoniously with the environment than you or I. Not to romanticize or idolize it, but it’s clear that a much larger change to our ways of life will be necessary to save Earth’s biome.

You said that the UK’s ban on diesel cars will come too late, but honestly even doing so 20 years ago would have been too little.

(This is probably long enough that it warrants a second draft before posting, but fuck it. You only live once bitch)

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (8 votes)

Focus on inane things like plastic straw use is therefore easily understood. It’s a small action people can take to make themselves feel more in control of the ecological crisis we’ve put the world in. Furthermore, it’s a consumer activity, and not even the real root of the problem, so it’s therefore nonthreatening to the capitalist class. In fact it promotes the myth that the consumer class is a free choice with which one controls their life - rather than a role imposed by violence.

That and if those upstairs can get straws to be rejected by consumers, then they can save a bunch of money on not being expected to give straws to customers for free.

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (10 votes)

Indigenous people did live more sustainably eating meat, that is true. It ignores a lot of ethical issues but true from an environmental standpoint. It's not that they did it in a particularly efficient way though.Things were sustainable because the population was so small. There are simply too many humans around and that either creates problems or exacerbates them. If we had 1 billion people we might be able to use fossil fuels without a global crisis. As the population increases, the amount of pollution each person can produce has to decrease to stay beneath the limits that the planet can tolerate.

Also, while indigenous people seemed to be living harmoniously with nature, let's not forget that the movement of humans is likely responsible for the extinction of large mammals in Europe and North America, long before large civilisations were established. You could've had elephants and giraffes and rhinos but they were all killed off.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 2.4 (9 votes)

I'm not sure that EMH's interactions with other animals during the Pleistocene is really that comparable to extant indigenous groups settled in the Arctic, nor relevant to determining where humans go from where we are now. In fact, the comparison combined with your implications that the indigenous groups to which I refer no longer exist is extremely sketchy. Wtf, dude?

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (8 votes)

I bring up early humans because it's a situation which is closest to indigenous communities, at least to my knowledge.

I'm not entirely sure where you got an implication that indigenous groups don't exist. I guess it was the use of the past tense. I use that now because there are very few tribes that are still isolated from the modern world (and I doubt any of those are in the arctic). So cultures, technologies and so on have all shifted in indigenous communities, whether by choice or force.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (8 votes)

...No, the culture and technology of pre-North American agriculture, megafauna-hunting archaic Homo sapiens are not much like those of their variegated descendants.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (6 votes)

I'd like to see how they fare against a modern megawolf! If only Stalking Cat were still with us...

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

Oh so we're just gonna make cavemen into a horny subject on here huh?

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About the author

Rakuen Growlitheread storiescontact (login required)

a student and Growlithe from South Africa/Austria, interested in science, writing, pokemon and gaming

I'm a South African fur, born and raised in Cape Town, but currently living in Vienna, Austria for work and studies. I'm interested in science, writing, gaming, all sorts of furry stuff, Pokemon and some naughtier things too! I've dabbled in art before but mostly like writing although I haven't done very many stories recently but more non-fiction on Flayrah. I also helped found and administer the ZA Fur forum.