grey-wolf
by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Film/TV
Tags: .
Photo: Flickr/USFWS Pacific

Remember that Liam Neeson vehicle we talked about in January called “The Grey”? The basic plot involves a a crew of oil-rig roughnecks left stranded after a plane crash in the frozen Alaskan tundra. That’s not the worst part though – apparently, they’re also being hunted by a pack of territorial rogue wolves. Here’s how director Joe Carnahan, who wrote the screenplay, explained this angle:

“The wolves have a territorial range of 300 miles, and they will run you out if you cross that,” says Carnahan. “If you’re within 30 miles of their den as is the case here, they will try to kill you. It’s simple arithmetic, but it creates an opportunity for one of those man vs. nature movies I love like Deliverance and Touching The Void.”

As mentioned earlier, if that sounds like bullshit, it’s because it is. While there have been plenty of documented wolf attacks, nobody has ever been reported killed by a wild, healthy one in North America. Sure, it may only be a matter of time (especially as we continue to encroach on habitats) that someone loses a life, but it’s not like there are killer wolves out there like Africanized bees waiting to pounce on you should you cross within 30 miles of their den or 300 mile territory. Commenter Art Greewalt communicated as much saying,

“I’ve lived in Alaska over 40 years now and have encountered wolves in the wild well within a 100 yards of their den, if not closer,” he said. “All they did was sit and watch as I dressed out a caribou I had taken, knowing full well they would have access to the remains when I left. I was not and did not feel in any way threatened by their presence.”

“I don’t know where Carnahan got his information but I suspect, at best, it was off the back of a cereal box or maybe from some NRA publication,” he added. “It is the biggest load of manure I have ever read about wolves, especially when you consider most villages in the Bush are well within a few miles of wolf dens.”

So we’ve established that the film isn’t based on anything that could happen in real life – but will audiences see it that way? Distributor Open Road apparently is eager to find out and, according to Deadline, love what little they’ve viewed of the film.

“Open Road is in the final stages of acquiring U.S. rights to Joe Carnahan’s The Grey, and it’s shaping up to be a whopper of a deal,” said Deadline’s Mike Fleming. “The numbers I’m hearing are in the $8 million minimum guarantee range, with a $25 million P&A commitment and a gross corridor built in.” Fleming also added that the deal includes a release on as many as 4,000 screens – and that buyers think Liam Neeson’s performance may carry Oscar-buzz.

Whatever. I love nature/action flicks as much as the next guy, but with wolves losing federal protection in several states this year, the timing sucks. There should be public support for the protection of these great animals, not fear that taking a hike will lead to imminent doom. Hopefully Carnahan exaggerates the threat to a point where it’s obvious this is pure fiction. Otherwise, there’s going to be some serious damage control for organizations working hard to change public perception of the wolf.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • don_miguelo

    “If you’re within 30 miles of their den as is the case here, they will try to kill you.” WRONG WRONG WRONG!

    Point 1: Maybe, if those wolves were utterly starving, and you were a weak human child alone, with no weapon or loud voice, AND you were already bleeding, would you be in danger from them. A crew of adult oil-rig roughnecks ain’t ever gonna see a wolf, nevermind be hunted by them! That’s the simple arithmetic: It would be illogical for the wolf pack to lose members X members of it’s pack to the loud, unknown and lethal force of humans when rabbits are just so much easier to catch (with Zero risk to lives). But that’s Hollywood for you.

    Point 2: This will do for wolves what Jaws did for sharks, despite arguments to the contrary.

    Point 3: Wolves, since the advent of firearms, have learned to run the hell away and hide from any human, and that has been proven with statistics as a direct causal relationship. Simple self-preservation. Maybe a rabid wolf would be a problem– but that’s it, end of discussion.

  • FactsMatter

    Talk about getting information from the back of organic cereal boxes!

    Read the article linked below, and then discuss point 1 and 3 made in the woefully uninformed comment above. http://www.propertyrightsresearch.org/2005/articles01/northern_miner.htm

    That is just one of many encounters with wolves – some fatal, and to my knowledge, no one was ‘bleeding’ before the attack/encounter.

    There have been too many wolf encounters in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming towns and homes/ranches to allow this erroneous comment to remain uncorrected.

    • don miguelo

      Talk about not reading the link in full that you supplied as evidence!

      So, I’ll forgive the fact that this is from a pro-mining publication…I guess. So this uranium miner was attacked in the evening by a lone wolf while jogging. Despite this story being from 2005, we do not know the results of the rabies testing. A bus of miner co-workers showed up to help him because, mind you, they are mining in the wolf’s natural territory– a major cause of any wolf attacks this century, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

      Never mind these lines from that article itself:

      “Wolves are common to the Key Lake site, but it is rare they interact with the people. Most travel in packs and run from humans.”

      “Unprovoked attacks on humans by healthy wolves are rare among the roughly 70,000 wolves that live in Canada and Alaska, according to a 2002 study by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.”

      “There is the occasional incident, such as in 1984 when one animal ran up and stole a sandwich from the hand of a worker. They are probably attracted by the readily available food. Although garbage is dumped and covered, the animals dig it up.” (Gee I wonder why it was waiting there for him).

      Please don’t misunderstand my initial post, I am not saying it is impossible or unheard of that there are wolf attacks. I am just saying the premise of this movie is totally unrealistic. If you want better wolf stats look here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_attacks_on_humans

      • FactsMatter

        I read the article and disagree with much of the misinformation given in it. I shared that particular link, though, because of your bold and erroneous statement. Remember this…your words?

        Maybe, if those wolves were utterly starving, and you were a weak human child alone, with no weapon or loud voice, AND you were already bleeding, would you be in danger from them. A crew of adult oil-rig roughnecks ain’t ever gonna see a wolf, nevermind be hunted by them! That’s the simple arithmetic”

        That referenced article demonstrates your errors. Are you willing to retract the above statement in light of the facts?
        1. it was not a weak child, but a stout miner
        2. He was not bleeding
        3. It is doubtful that wolf was starving as there was no mention that it looked gaunt…on the contrary, the article noted how huge the wolf was.
        4. The miner was stalked and attacked on a road
        5. no mention of rabies were raised in the account
        5. to refute your point 3, the wolf was not scared of the men, nor did it just ‘run away’ and hide when it saw them. It wasn’t even afraid when the bus pulled up!

        These wolves are NOT scared of people. They walk into yards, climb onto front porches and look in windows, prey upon people’s pets or chase deer and elk right into towns. Wolves are seen repeatedly in people’s yards, not a mile from elementary schools, or killing deer by bus stops, or confronting people walking in their driveways. These are all reported, documented occurrences just within the last 6 months, not to mention encounters hunters have had with wolf packs stalking them in the woods. My neighbor had wolves circling his house on multiple nights…foot tracks all over the snow. We do not live in some remote area of Idaho wilderness but in a farming community with lots of rural houses dotting the landscape. A pack of 11 wolves drove a deer right into the downtown area of the little town I live near this past winter. So don’t try to feed me the lie that ‘the wolf is afraid of men’. The illegally imported Canadian grey wolf has no fear of man, and was inflicted on the people of the MT, ID, WY through fraud and junk science. I can give you dozens of accounts if you are capable of listening to actual, factual information and not the propaganda put out by those who promote the wolf.

        I am curious to know where you live, that you spout these oft-repeated fables as if they were fact. The reality encountered by those who actually have to live in the shadow of the wolf is much, much different from fantasy you promote.
        Here is another link worth reading if you are willing to hear truth. http://www.lobowatch.org/adminclient/WolfImpact5/go

      • don_miguelo

        [AGAIN, ‘please don’t misunderstand my initial post, I am not saying it is impossible or unheard of that there are wolf attacks. I am just saying the premise of this movie is totally unrealistic’. But since that misunderstanding is hell-bent on happening: let me respond.]
        I read the article and disagree with much of the misinformation given in it. I shared that particular link, though, because of your bold and erroneous statement.

        [Wait, wait-- So you shared an article that you had read and knew had a lot of misinformation, “FactsMatter”, but did not notify of that before posting it? But yet you shared it because of MY ‘bold and erroneous statement’? Hilarious!!!]

        Remember this…your words?
        “Maybe, if those wolves were utterly starving, and you were a weak human child alone, with no weapon or loud voice, AND you were already bleeding, would you be in danger from them. A crew of adult oil-rig roughnecks ain’t ever gonna see a wolf, nevermind be hunted by them! That’s the simple arithmetic”
        That referenced article demonstrates your errors. Are you willing to retract the above statement in light of the facts?
        1. it was not a weak child, but a stout miner [But also not a crew of oil-rig roughnecks, to use my words]
        2. He was not bleeding [I did say ‘MAYBE’]
        3. It is doubtful that wolf was starving as there was no mention that it looked gaunt…on the contrary, the article noted how huge the wolf was. [and yet it was not in its pack. and frequenting an area known for humans burying food.]
        4. The miner was stalked and attacked on a road [No evidence of stalking, maybe evidence of him JOGGING thru the wolf’s usual hunting grounds, but no way to know if he was being stalked.]
        5. no mention of rabies were raised in the account [Wrong again. At the end of the article-- in fact I quoted it out for you in the last post, not that you noticed—it mentions that rabies was tested for but never told us the results. Hmmm…]
        5. to refute your point 3, the wolf was not scared of the men, nor did it just ‘run away’ and hide when it saw them. It wasn’t even afraid when the bus pulled up! [umm the wolf was in a headlock and choked out, hard to tell if it was afraid of the busload of miners. It’s hard to run away when you are being held down by a very strong man as the article very clearly states.]

        These wolves are NOT scared of people. They walk into yards, climb onto front porches and look in windows, prey upon people’s pets or chase deer and elk right into towns. Wolves are seen repeatedly in people’s yards, not a mile from elementary schools, or killing deer by bus stops, or confronting people walking in their driveways. These are all reported, documented occurrences just within the last 6 months, not to mention encounters hunters have had with wolf packs stalking them in the woods. My neighbor had wolves circling his house on multiple nights…foot tracks all over the snow. We do not live in some remote area of Idaho wilderness but in a farming community with lots of rural houses dotting the landscape. A pack of 11 wolves drove a deer right into the downtown area of the little town I live near this past winter. So don’t try to feed me the lie that ‘the wolf is afraid of men’. [Wait, they drove the deer into town and….killed it with a bunch of people around…OR didn’t come into town because they were a little afraid of the people in town? Just curious because that would seem to back up my original point that they shy from groups of humans]. The illegally [?!] imported Canadian grey wolf has no fear of man, and was inflicted on the people of the MT, ID, WY through fraud and junk science. I can give you dozens of accounts if you are capable of listening to actual, factual information and not the propaganda put out by those who promote the wolf.

        [Ok you live in a ferocious wolf-hell from which there is no escape except certain death, I get it. Terrifying! BTW, just as much propaganda is put out by the rancher industry, the mining industry and other vested interests that would love to see wolves lose their status -- and thus have no codes, fines, or untouchable areas to have to deal with. Actual, factual info I have not seen too much of out there, including your whole paragraph on anecdotal evidence of wolf oppression. This is why I supplied the Wiki link to Wolf attack stats. Sure, I believe you have newspaper printouts of all these occurrences, I do, but does that add up to an open and shut case that wolves are out there to get us? No-- what it actually points out is that when you put people into a habitat that was the wolf’s, and most of those people have caged-in, easy to catch food for a predator, they come looking for food. When you mine in their habitat, you will come across them because they aren’t going to read the sign that says, ‘WOLVES: This is now mining country, please do not follow us around for scraps or defend yourself if you are suddenly encroached upon by a kid walking his dogs in the woods near the house where his miner dad lives’.

        That being said, Let’s look at some more empirical stats, not just another article on a wolf sighting, or for that matter an article on why wolves are so cool:

        Wolf Conflict Facts:
        http://www.westernwolves.org/index.php/wolf-conflict-facts

        “The most recent official survey, conducted more than a decade ago, determined there were 4.7 million dog bite victims annually in the USA. A more recent study showed that 1,000 Americans per day are treated in emergency rooms as a result of dog bites. In 2010 there were 34 fatal dog attacks in the USA. Most of the victims who receive medical attention are children, half of whom are bitten in the face. Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year, with over $300 million paid by homeowners insurance.”
        --from http://dogbitelaw.com/dog-bite-statistics/dog-bite-statistics.html

        “In modern times, as humans begin to encroach on wolf habitats more contacts are being recorded. Often the contact is because the person is walking their pet dog, and the wolf pack considers the dog a prey item, inciting an attack.”
        –(the wiki article linked to prior post)

        Echinococcosis, which Photogirl4u brought up, is a concern if you or your pets eat the tapeworm’s larval eggs in canine waste. Like, you touch infected wolf, fox, or coyote poop and then put those fingers in your mouth. Hello antibacterial appointment! But it’s not like rabies where it infects from a bite. Of no mention is Brucellosis which you can get as a hunter eating elk or deer meat that is not cooked enough. Of no mention is the mercury in the river that fills up the salmon in the fish farms. Those issues aren’t of concern if you’re trying to keep wolves out of your state

        But fine, I get it a wolf is a predator animal, like a coyote, bear or a mountain lion, and wild. That is dangerous. As dangerous as the “writing” of this movie would have us believe, well, no. I stand by my original points in the context they were given. Sorry if some read my words as “No wolf ever bit anyone, they are like CareBears of peace and love and very friendly.” If that’s how you interpret it I ask you to try harder to see what I was saying in essence, inconvenient as that may be. AGAIN, that this movie’s premise is improbable, citing actual attack stats, reasons why wolves attack, and the Fish and Wildlife Agency’s own findings that wolves rarely attack humans, especially ones that are not in their territory or threatening them, or are rabid. Yes I agree with you that there are wolf attacks and some fatal, but this movie, as the original writer points out, sure makes them seem like Africanized bees hungry for your blood. That’s just wrong.]

  • Photogirl4u

    Here is a situation that no one is speaking to.. There is also the issue of an extremely contagious disease carried by
    wolves and transmittable to pets and humans. Dr. Geist a wildlife
    biologist out of Calgary, has warned in a published paper that this
    isn’t a bogeyman like wolf advocates describe, but rather a real threat
    to people, especially children, living in rural Montana, Idaho and
    Wyoming. ( and soon Oregon )The disease is potentially fatal.

    Echinococcosis,
    also known as Hydatid Disease, is a potentially fatal parasitic disease
    caused by tapeworm of the genus Echinococcus – including Echinococcus
    granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis. Research data indicates that
    62% and 63% of the wolves tested in Idaho and Montana respectively
    between 2006 and 2008 were infected with the tapeworm.. These diseases
    can affect your pets, and yourself, not to mention cattle and wildlife.
    If you are hiking with your dog in these areas…guess what, you are
    exposing your pet to this. They can pick it up just by sniffing the wolf
    scat.

    Another informed biologist out of Utah is Dr. Charles Kay
    PhD. is a good one to read. He has done alot of research and is
    published

    I guess what I am trying to say is that the wolf will
    affect more of our lives than what is being communicated. The romance with the wolf is a very dangerous popular myth and has gathered a huge cult following.

  • lifeinthemountains

    Very well said Facts matter. Hopefully this person will read and learn the truth. Or if he dose not want to read move to Idaho spend time in the mountain so he can see first hand what is going on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Hemming/1462191884 Bruce Hemming

    Wolves have always killed people in North American in the historical record I found over a 100 wolf attacks leading to human deaths. Recent attacks 6 people sitting on a beach in Canada a lone HEALTHY wolf attack them in fact too were young girls. Kenton Carnegie a young strong man in Canada ripped to shreds by a pack of 4 wolves. A young healthy school teacher in 2010 in Alaska ripped to shreds by wolves. Only a fool believes the misinformation put out that wolves don’t attack and kill people.

    • don_miguelo

      For the record I know that Wolves have attacked and killed people. So have other predator animals. So have other humans! Sometimes people are killed by non-predator animals defending themselves. Look above I posted how many DOG attacks there on people every year. And those dogs are destroyed, but we don’t kill all the dogs everywhere.

      There is no reason to wipe them off the face of the Earth. It’s a chance to learn to live with them the best we can, not to make sensational fear-inducing movies about them that are potrayed as fact.

  • IKILLWOLVES

    Please call and explain that wolves do not kill and eat humans to the school teacher who was torn apart and consumed last year! Same wolves we now have here!!!