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Wolf Hunter


In Ancient Rome, the treatment given to wolves differed from the treatment meted out to other large predators. The Romans generally seem to have refrained from intentionally harming wolves. For instance, they were not hunted for pleasure (but only in order to protect herds that were out at pasture), and not displayed in the venationes, either. The special status of the wolf was not based on national ideology, but rather was connected to the religious importance of the wolf to the Romans.[5]




Wolf Hunter



It is known that wolves survived in Scotland up until the 18th century.[9] Mary, Queen of Scots, is known to have hunted wolves in the forest of Atholl in 1563.[6] Stories on the killing of the alleged last wolf of Scotland vary. Official records indicate that the last Scottish wolf was killed by Sir Ewan Cameron in 1680.[10] Popular folklore on the other hand tells of how an old man named MacQueen of Pall à Chrocain in the Findhorn Valley of Morayshire killed the last wolf in 1743.[9]


In 9th century France, Charlemagne founded an elite corps of crown funded officials called luparii, whose purpose was to control wolf populations in France during the Middle Ages.[12] Luparii were responsible for the initial reduction of wolf populations in France, which would become decimated in later centuries. The office of luparius is today known as the Wolfcatcher Royal.[13] On 9 August 1787 the office of luparii was dissolved because of financing issues during the French Revolution but was reinstated twelve years later by Napoleon.[12] After the Revolution ended, wolf hunting was no longer an activity reserved for the aristocracy. Wolves could be killed for monetary rewards equivalent to a month's pay. From 1818 to 1829, 1400 wolves were killed each year. This high kill rate coincided with the increased distribution of flintlocks. At the dawn of the 19th century, there were up to 5000 wolves in France, a number which was reduced to half that amount by 1850. By 1890, the wolf population had been reduced to 1000 animals, and further fell to 500 in 1900 because of increased usage of strychnine. Wolves temporarily increased during the First World War, though by the time it ended, the population was estimated to be between 150 and 200 animals. The last confirmed French wolf kill occurred in 1937.[12] With the extinction of the wolf in metropolitan France, the office of Wolfcatcher Royal was modified in 1971 and now serves an administrative function regulating vermin and maintaining healthy wildlife populations.[13]


Wolf bounties were regularly paid in Italy during the 12th and 13th centuries and as recently as the 1950s.[2] Gian Galeazzo Visconti himself offered ten Imperial marks for every wolf killed.[14] 600 wolves are recorded to have been bountied between the 14th and 19th centuries. Presentation of the killed wolf to the authorities was obligatory. The authorities had to give an accurate testimony with a description of the presented animal (gender, weight, measurements, color, estimated age, etc.) and the symptomatic ascertainment of any rabies infection. The wolf's paw was then amputated and/or its ears were sealed in wax in order to avoid the spoils being represented elsewhere. Only one case of fraud occurred, in 1834, which was punished by arrest.[15] Italian wolf hunters lacked the organisation or determination of their French counterparts, having not formed any special hunting teams. Wolves were exterminated from the Alps in the 19th century, though they were never fully exterminated in the peninsula.[2]


In Switzerland, conflicts between humans and wolves reached a peak in the 16th century, amid large-scale deforestation. Wolves became extinct in Zürich in 1684. They were later exterminated from Appenzell Ausserrhoden in 1695, and Schaffhausen in 1712. The last known traces of wolves in central Switzerland date back to 1707 in Zug, 1753 in Uri, and 1793 in Glarus. Wolves became extinct in Engadin in 1821. Between 1762 and 1842, 80 wolves were recorded to have been bountied in Vaud. Wolves were further exterminated in Valais in 1870, Ticino in 1872 and Solothurn in 1874. Wolves occasionally migrated to Switzerland in small numbers in the early 20th century. In 1908, a wolf was shot in Ticino, and a further two were killed in 1914 in Lignerolle.[16]


In 19th century Spain, the Principality of Asturias passed an act between March and December 1816 paying out bounties for the death of 76 adult and 414 young wolves at 160 reales for an adult wolf and 32 for a wolf cub. The hunting of wolves represented a considerable source of wealth for local populations, with the lobero or wolf-hunter being a respected county figure.[17]


In Croatia, between 1986 and 2004, 115 wolf deaths were recorded, of which 54% were due to shooting. During that period, the number of dead wolves found ranged from 0 to 15 annually. The lowest kill rates occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s, coinciding with the start of the Croatian War of Independence.[19]


The Swedish kings Magnus Eriksson and Christopher of Bavaria decreed wolf hunting a civic duty, with only priests, parish clerks and landless women exempted. Sweden's first wolf bounty was opened in 1647. The bounties remained in force in the new laws of the Kingdom of Sweden from 1734.[20] Hundreds of Sami killed wolves in order to protect their reindeer herds. In the 1960s, wolf numbers rapidly declined with the onset of snow mobiles used for hunting. Sweden's last wolf was killed in 1966, after which, the species was declared legally protected and eventually recolonized the area.[2]


In Communist Romania, up to 2,800 wolves were killed between 1955 and 1965.[2] During the reign of Nicolae Ceauşescu, a reward equal to a quarter of a month's pay was offered to rangers killing wolf cubs. Full-grown wolves killed by any method at all resulted in as much as a half-month's pay.[22]


In Czarist Russia, before the emancipation reform of 1861, wolf hunting was done solely by authorized firearm holders, usually police, soldiers, rich landowners or nobles. Upon learning of the frequency of attacks on livestock and humans, the Ministry of the Interior sent agents to Western Europe in order to learn how the people there dealt with wolf problems. Upon returning, the Ministry of the Interior developed a plan in 1846 to deal with wolves involving the opening of wolf bounties and appointment of government hunters. Each hunter was given jurisdiction to hunt in one district, with more than one for large areas. Hunters were given 3 rubles for each male wolf killed and 1.5 for each cub, with a tail presented as proof. Each hunter would receive an annual salary of 60 rubles a year, provided he killed 15 adults and 30 cubs a year. Peasant hunters, however, were rarely rewarded, because of corrupt bureaucrats stealing the money. In 1858, after paying the equivalent of $1,250,000 for over a million wolves in Central Russia, officials became suspicious, and discovered that some hunters bought wolf pelts for low prices, cut them up and handed them to magistrates as wolf tails. In the later years of the 19th century, Russian hunting societies began an energetic campaign against wolves. In 1897, members of the Moscow Hunting Society killed their first 1000 wolves, though the number of professional wolf hunters at the time was rather low. Former serfs began hunting wolves after their emancipation in 1861, though rarely with success, as civilian firearms were highly expensive, and the cheaper ones were usually primitive and unable to bear the heavy ammunition necessary to kill wolves.[23]


After the October Revolution in 1917, the newly formed Soviet government worked heavily to eradicate wolves and other predators during an extensive land reclamation program.[24] During World War II, wolf populations increased, though after Nazi Germany's defeat, wolf hunts resumed. With the end of the war and the onset of aerial hunting, the USSR destroyed 42,300 wolves in 1945, 62,700 wolves in 1946, 58,700 wolves in 1947, 57,600 in 1948, and 55,300 in 1949. From 1950 to 1954, an average of 50,000 wolves were killed annually. In 1966, wolves had been successfully exterminated in 30 oblasts of the RSFSR. During this time, wolf predation on humans and livestock had dropped by a factor of ten. However, with the publishing of a Russian translation of Farley Mowatt's book Never Cry Wolf, wolf hunts decreased in popularity. Amid public outcry, Czarist and Soviet records of wolf attacks on both livestock and people were ignored and wolf hunts decreased in number, allowing wolves to multiply. 15,900 wolves were reportedly culled from the RSFSR in 1978, compared to 7,900 two years prior. With an increase in population, twice as many wolves were culled in the 1980s than in the prior decade.[23] Wolves became extinct in Wrangel Island in the early 1980s.[25] In 1984, the RSFSR had over 2,000 wolf hunting brigades consisting of 15,000 hunters who killed 16,400 wolves.[23] Overall, the Soviet Union culled over 1,500,000 wolves for a cost of 150,000,000 rubles on bounties alone. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many wolf bounties were lowered or dropped altogether.[23] Wolf hunting continues in Russia, at the expense of individual hunters rather than the government.[26]


In India, Hindus traditionally considered the hunting of wolves, even dangerous ones, as taboo, for fear of causing a bad harvest. The Santals, however, considered them fair game, as with every other forest dwelling animal.[27] In 1876, in the North-West Provinces and Bihar State of British India, 2,825 wolves were killed in response to 721 fatal attacks on humans.[28] Two years later, 2,600 wolves were killed in response to attacks leaving 624 humans dead.[29] Wolf exterminations remained a priority in the NWP and Awadh through to the 1920s, because wolves were reportedly killing more people than any other predator in the region. Female cubs were bountied for 12 Indian annas, while males for 8. Higher rewards of 5 rupees for each adult and one for each cub were favored in Jaunpur. In Gorakhpur, where human fatalities were highest in summer, the reward for an adult wolf was 4 rupees, with 3 for a cub. Acts of fraud were quite common, with some bounty hunters presenting golden jackals or simply exhuming the bodies of bountied wolves and presenting them to unsuspecting magistrates for rewards. Overall, it is thought that up to 100,000 wolves were killed in British India between 1871 and 1916.[28] 041b061a72


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