January 3, 2023
By Michael W. Fox, BVetMed, PhD, DSc, MRCVS

By Michael W. Fox, BVetMed, PhD, DSc, MRCVS

Wolves embody the same spark that ignites and sustains the human spirit, and the One Health of Earth.
I speak and write about wolves as a veterinarian, scientist and bioethicist who has raised wolf
cubs and studied their behavior, development and communication. Without wolves in my life, I
would not likely have earned the doctor of science degree in animal behaviour/ethology from
London University, England. I have authored and edited several academic books about wolves
and other wild canids, and the award-winning book of fiction for children, The Wolf.
One of the founding fathers of the science of animal behavior/ethology, Nobel prize laureate
Konrad Lorenz, MD, proclaimed “Before you can really study an animal you must first love it.”
Native American Indian Chief Dan George put it this way: “If you talk to the animals they will
talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them, you will not know them,
and what you do not know you will fear. What one fears one destroys.”
Those who know wolves would respect rather than seek to destroy them. I can attest to their high
degree of intelligence, insight, playful humor and empathy as detailed in my popular book The
Soul of the Wolf. Wolves are exemplary parents, instilling obedience in their cubs so essential for
their survival as well as self-control, gentleness and pack-cooperation/mutual aid. They will
bring food to a pack-mate who is injured, most often while hunting. Conflicts between packs are
rare but when food is scarce there can be injuries, deaths and dispersal.
The vital role of wolves in contributing to the health of deer and other wildlife and their
ecosystems, and to public health have been well documented. The ecological, environmental and
public health services that wolves provide help rectify the ecological, environmental and public
health costs of the livestock industry, too long denied. (
When subjected to human encroachment, shooting, trapping, snaring, denning and poisoning. the
integrated nuclear-family and stabilizing pack and clan associations of wolves are disrupted,
resulting in suffering, starvation and social conflicts. From a humane as well as from the
scientific and bioethical perspectives of One Health, it is enlightened self-interest to protect
wolves and engage in planetary “CPR” (-conservation, preservation and restoration). Supporting
cattle ranchers by exterminating wolves and other predators and subsidizing the beef industry
simply fuels global warming, climate change and loss of biodiversity. It also perpetuates the
unquestioned cultural norm and consumer health risks of meat-based diets.
The fundamental lesson from the ecology of wolf and other large predators is that they naturally
control their numbers (Arian D. Wallach et al. Oikos Feb. 16 th
2015. See also
limit-their-own-numbers-2/). There are too many of us who kill billions of animals annually from
land and sea to consume as a dietary staple to not harm the environment. The most significant
correctives are to transition to plant-based diets and the implementation of new food

biotechnologies such as animal cell bioreactors producing safe and nutritious, cruelty-free
analogs of meat and other animal products. This would eliminate the justification of predator
control/killing; cruel farm animal factories and feedlots; stressful transportation and mass
slaughter of terrified animals; put an end to hunting and fishing and to many food-borne
illnesses; and reduce climate change and loss of biodiversity.
The giving and taking of lives, predators and prey, as the dynamics of forest, deer and wolf
demonstrate, evidence how the ecological whole of biodiversity is maintained and sustained.
Add the human takings of timber, mining, agriculture, hunting deer, incursion of livestock and
land developers, and taking of wolves as trophies and for their fur is a crime against Nature and
to the spirit and sensibilities of our own humanity.
Environmental/ecological eugenics is a relatively new and imprecise science involving the
selective extermination of invasive species and re-introduction, like wolves into Yellowstone
National Park and beavers into their original wetland habitats where they were trapped to
extinction, with documented benefits in terms of enhanced natural biodiversity. Such eugenics of
wildlife management and habitat restoration and conservation contrasts the harmful
consequences of agribusiness food-industry eugenics with the selective killing of insects, for
example, with insecticides that now threaten bees and other vital crop pollinators and have
decimated naturally pest- controlling insectivorous amphibian, reptile, avian and bat populations:
And the killing of predators to protect livestock that infect other wildlife with diseases, the
absence of predators accelerating the loss of biodiversity and incursion of invasive species. The
only justification to ever cull or relocate a wolf pack would be if they were to put endangered
species at risk, which has never occurred. We humans put the most species at risk.
It is, perhaps, poetic irony, if not Nature’s retribution, that we are suffering the catastrophic and
escalating consequences of climate change and of potentially pandemic diseases transmitted
from animals to humans that natural biodiversity once helped contain, as the science and
bioethics of One Health affirms. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution incorporating the
essence of a Universal Bill of Rights for Animals and Nature codified in 2011 in my book
Animals and Nature First could establish the U.S. as the leader for the formation of a United
Environmental Nations to collaboratively achieve the One Health imperatives of planetary CPR-
(conservation, protection and restoration). We are surely not powerless to stop the wanton
destruction, the needless killing and endless suffering. In a restored democracy there would be
justice for all. From the Christian perspective of the Rev. James Parks Morton, “Ecology is the
science of the body of Christ through which we of the Earth community learn our sacred
In respecting and protecting the wolf we do no less for our humanity. Chief Black Elk, an Oglala
Lakota Sioux holy man, warrior, and survivor of Wounded Knee, proclaimed: “Nothing will be
well unless we learn to live in harmony with the Power of the World as it lives and moves and
does its work.” This Power of the World, from Nature’s life-sustaining biodiversity, is in every
creature and breath we take. In harming this Power of the World, we fall from grace toward
extinction as a rational, responsible and compassionate species. What kinds of human
phenotypes/subspecies emerge from the Anthropocene apocalypse of what scientists are now
calling Earth’s sixth mass extinction, remains to be seen.

We are the mothers and fathers of tomorrow, and how well we care for and protect wolves and
all of our relations in Nature’s biodiversity today, will be our legacy. The Call of the Wild-the
spirit of creative freedom and genius loci- will be no more if we do not effectively address the
Nature Deficit Disorder in children and the escalating Empathy Deficit Disorder in most
societies today. All school districts should have access to Natural History and Wildlife Education
and Rehabilitation centers and on-line educational materials incorporating environmental
education. The animal circus and road-side zoo “animal experience” is detrimental to a child’s
cognitive and emotional development. We must recover the kind of sensibility expressed by
Australian aboriginal elder Bill Neidjie: “If you feel sore…headache, sore body, that mean
somebody killing tree or grass. You feel because your body in that tree or earth. Nobody can tell
you, you got to feel it yourself.”
None of us could function well with half a lung; broken bones and blood poisoning; impaired
nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Neither can planet Earth. These and other medical
conditions are evident in analogous form in the environmental dysbiosis we have caused: felling
forests, lungs of the Earth; breaking mountains apart and poisoning streams and waterways;
polluting our air, food and water; decimating and disrupting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
and the lives therein, plant, animal and microbial. These ecosystems are now disintegrating on
the path toward extinction. Only in the advancement of One Health is there reason for hope,
forever nascent in the spirituality of reverence for life and embedded in the principles of justice
and frugality.
Wolves revered by indigenous peoples East and West. (
mythology): In the Shinto religion of Japan the wolf is a guardian when it is properly attended to
and cared for. Farmers used to worship wolves at shrines and left food offerings near
their dens, beseeching them to protect their crops from wild boars and deer. Hindus traditionally
considered that the hunting of wolves was a taboo since they feared that it may cause a bad
harvest. According to Minnesota Ojibwe elder Jim Merhar “When the world started, the wolf
was put here to help people. You can think of it almost like dogs today. The wolf is a partner to
man.” ( In 2010, the
Red Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota, was the first to adopt a wolf management plan. They
designated the band's 843,000 acres of land as a wolf sanctuary in an effort to help save wolves.
To live and let live is a democratic ecological principle; a consummation devoutly to be wished
in accord with the Golden Rule. Saving the wolf today will help save our humanity tomorrow.

Dr. Fox lives in Golden Valley Minnesota. Email Website
Addendum: Minnesota’s updated wolf plan “strengthens wolf conservation.”
The DNR has finalized an updated wolf management plan that incorporates the diverse views of
Minnesotans and will guide the state’s approach to wolf conservation for the next 10 years. The
plan includes summary information about Minnesota’s wolf population and the history of wolves
in the state. It details the diverse and changing public attitudes about wolves, the legal status of
wolves, tribal perspectives on wolves, and ways to support a healthy and resilient wolf

population while minimizing conflicts between humans and wolves. The plan also includes a
framework for how the state will approach decisions about wolf hunting or trapping if the wolf is
delisted federally.
A full version of the updated plan and information about the planning process is on the  DNR
wolf plan page.
For an excellent recording of wolf howls, visit