Monday, January 20, 2014


As you probably know, we often visit Finland because our son, his wife and their two children live there. Over dinner one evening, our son’s inlaws spoke about the pros and cons of being part of the EU. 

Evidently the euro is doing pretty well as currency, 
and travel among EU countries is possible with a single passport issued by the EU. However, countries with stronger economies aren’t always so thrilled about bailing out nations they don’t think have been as fiscally responsible. In fact, my son shops for groceries politically. Produce is always labeled by country of origin, and he refuses to buy any produce from Greece. He’s not fond of China or Russia, either, due to economic threats they present to many European countries.

That said, my son’s inlaws also mentioned certain restrictions and laws that all EU nations must honor. One relates to wolves: under the laws of the EU, wolves are a protected species. Parents in the far north of Finland, in the area of Lapland, the home of Santa, reportedly are worried about the safety of their children on their way to and from school, and don’t want them walking alone due to fear of wolf attacks.

A year or two later I was in a workshop when an environmental writer mentioned that parents in Montana have fears about their children being attacked by wolves as they travel to and from school, and won’t let the children walk alone anymore since wolves have been re-introduced into Yellowstone Park and other areas, and are a protected species. I spoke to the presenter afterward and told him, “You’ll never guess where else I’ve heard about parents fearing for their children going to and from school, with more wolves living in the region….” He was stunned. 

 Last week I reviewed My Antonia by Willa Cather for my book club. I loved reading the book again after many years. And within its pages there was a story that seemed quite familiar. Russian Peter and Russian Pavev, two immigrant ranch workers living in the Nebraska territory, had a dark history involving wolves. Back in their motherland, they had been hired to escort a wedding party from one village to another in the darkness, in the deep of winter.

They led the caravan in their horse-drawn sleigh, followed by the other sleighs carrying members of the party. One by one, beginning at the back, each sleigh was attacked by wolves and its riders were devoured. When Peter and Pavel arrived at their destination, theirs was the only sleigh remaining; there was no wedding party left to be honored. No matter where they went after that unfortunate event, Peter and Pavov were treated with disgust and disdain for not protecting the wedding party, so they eventually left their home country in disgrace and came to America to start a new life.

Is there an undercurrent of truth in these stories, I wonder? Or are wolves just getting a bad rap? I know they are hated by ranchers, who lose sheep and cattle to wolf attacks every year. But are there ever human victims? Or are the wolves just getting a bad rap?

What do you think?

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