Posted on 31 March 2016
Our negative perceptions of the wolf – an interview with Yolanda Cortés, wolf expert from Spain.
1. The wolf is often portrayed as a bad and evil animal in our Western societies, why is that?
It’s not easy for me to answer this question. I can only see the wolf as charismatic and powerful.
The reason for this negative perception may be related to the great symbolic value of this animal. For some people, it represents all the beauty and the wildness of nature, for others, it is the wicked villain.
The wolf, to some of us, reminds of the times during which we were just another animal living in nature with others, under the same rules. The wolf can then be associated to our weakness.
2. Where do these beliefs come from?
There was a time when humans were, much more than today, subjected to the hostile forces of nature. The ancestral fear of the wolf is probably born at that time.
Today, we cannot deny the fact that wolves cause damages to livestock, which arouse feelings of frustration, impotence, sadness and anger.
The magnitude of the anti-wolf feeling however, is not always proportional to the amount of damage caused.
I believe that the tensions around the wolf are created on purpose by certain groups or lobbies to avoid addressing other problems.
3. Should we stop telling the story of the Little Red Riding Hood to our children?
To be honest, I never read it to my children! But maybe it’s a good story to tell. It provides a good opportunity to discuss the perceptions we may have about the wolf.
Is the wolf the predator that kills wild herbivores and domestic animals (of which some people depend on for their livelihood)? Or is it the adaptable, beautiful and enigmatic species with a lot of social skills like humans?
To me, it is the second perception that makes sense. Now, children are very clever and with our help they will draw their own conclusions.
This interview was done with Yolanda Cortés, wolf expert by WWF Spain in March 2016
About Yolanda Cortés
Yolanda started studying wolves in 1997 and since then, she has been involved and conducted various projects funded by National and Regional Governments as well as the European Union.