LIVING WITH WOLVES Pt. 4 – A Breakdown in Governance

Updated 10/16/12 –

“The introduction and spread of wolves in the United States will one day – not now – be considered a disaster in wildlife conservation with nothing to celebrate….  This is not merely a breakdown in conventional wildlife management, it is a breakdown in governance.”

–  Dr. Valerius Geist  –  Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary.

The public health risks associated with the recolonization of wolves across much of the landscape of America could prove catastrophic.   Although wolves are known to carry at least 50 different parasites and dozens of diseases that are transmissible to other animals including humans, this post will focus on one specific disease.

Dr. Valerius Geist is a specialist on the biology, behavior, and social dynamics of large North American mammals (elk, moose, bighorn sheep and other wild ungulates). The following are excerpts from a talk given by Dr. Geist at the Boone and Crockett Club on MAY 24, 2011 focusing on the subject of hydatid (parasitic tape worm) disease.

Dear Colleagues,

My e-mails pertaining to hydatid disease in Idaho have been met with deafening silence, except from Finland where retired moose and wolf biologist Kaarlo Nygren wrote back in response to my suggestion that we are seeing at best the tip of the iceberg:  “Thank You, Val! The iceberg is there and Titanic is heading to it with people dancing on its decks”. (His words, not mine.)

But then Finland has had historically tragic experiences with wolves and hydatid disease.  As I informed you, it was Fins that marshaled army helicopters and sub-machine gunners to deal with the spreaders of hydatid disease.  It was Fins that translated Will Graves 2007 book “Wolves in Russia. Anxiety through the Ages” which I had edited and found a publisher for.  Moreover, they upgraded the book with additional Russian material and published it again as a second edition.

It was Fins that publicized my observations how wolves target alternative prey, humans included, which I first reported on in a Wildlife Society symposium in Madison on September 27th 2005, and which I published as Appendix B in Will Graves book. They labeled the stepwise progression form exploration to attack as “Seven Steps to Heaven”. Nice humor.  Moreover, the same progression was discovered six years earlier in coyotes stalking children in urban parks by professors Rex Baker and Bob Timm.

Fins are sensitized to wolves and hydatid disease and the heavy-handed machinations by the EU bureaucracy in Brussels to make Fins accept wolf-conservation-legislation built, alas, on false premises.  I am well aware that this raised deep resentment in the country side, and may have been a factor in the surprising rise and recent electoral victory of the conservative, anti-EU party. My e-mail suggest similar sentiments in our west [Idaho, Montana, Wyoming].

The introduction and spread of wolves in the United States will one day – not now – be considered a disaster in wildlife conservation with nothing to celebrate.  We shall eventually learn what we have not learned from history, namely, that wolves and settled landscapes are not compatible.

Here is the primary problem: Wolves, probably well-infected with dog tape worm (Echinococcus granulosus) are hunting and killing elk and deer close to and with in hamlets and suburbs and defecating on lawns, driveways and school grounds in Idaho and Montana.

Now, if nothing else but this were known, than it is an utterly unacceptable situation as these visiting wolves will almost certainly contaminate the hamlet, suburb or school ground with hydatid disease. Secondly, this sets up the beginning of habituation and the targeting of people by wolves, children being the most likely potential victims.

In short – if wolves visit residential areas, we have an intolerable breakdown of management at hand with very serious medical implication for people. This is not merely a breakdown in conventional wildlife management, it is a breakdown in governance.

However, we do know more than this! Apparently, a very brave and responsible citizen called a public meeting to announce the existence of the disease, a first operation on a lady who had most of the liver removed due to multiple cysts at a cost of apparently $63,000, as well as others with cysts in their liver. We shall find out more soon.

The wolf feces on lawns and driveways is likely to contain large amounts of tiny, microscopic eggs, hydatid eggs, which can be spread and enter homes carried on foot wear, carried by tires from the drive ways into the family garage, or carried by domestic dogs that roll on wolf feces into houses where petting the dog transfers the eggs to hands. Unwashed hands touching food, or kids chewing fingernails etc can carry the eggs into the mouth. Eggs mingling with house dust can also wind up inside persons, especially toddlers crawling on the floor and putting their hands into their mouths.

The pathway of hydatid eggs entering the house via ranch dogs feeding on infected deer and elk offal, developing adult tape worms in their gut and spreading infective feces, as I described earlier (Montana Legislature’s Environmental Quality Council, on April 27th 2010), may or may not have happened. However, any dog, be it a ranch or a hunter’s town dog rolling in wolf feces, is a serious threat to the family.

I will not bore you with describing the progress of that disease. It’s dreadful! Apparently some state biologists have been downplaying this disease. I ask you not to fall into that trap! Also, the cost of this disease, in your country will be born by the affected family, victims of the breakdown in governance that we are witness to.

The main reason that hydatid disease has not been prevalent to the north of Idaho in British Columbia is that trappers have continued to remove wolves at a fairly high rate, aided by predator control officers, and an open season for all hunters on wolves. There are some 900 registered trappers in BC and they hold contests as to who can kill the most wolves. The 2010 winner took first prize with 30! Second prize was responsible for 29!

Similarly in Alberta there is no limit on wolves for trappers and hunters – and wolves are still spreading causing consternation in the ranching community.  However, we have no wolves hunting in suburbs, hamlets or cities – as hunters alone would quickly shoot any wolf bold or sick enough to show itself.

In my earlier presentations I have been diplomatic trying to point out that my US colleagues have not explored in the professional literature the precise conditions under which hydatid disease is most prevalent as well as highly dangerous. Reciting that the disease is rare among patients of big urban hospitals does not reflect on the prevalence of the disease!

I understand that Idaho has passed emergency legislation in the form of bill H343.  It is time to use it.  Similar legislation failed to pass in Montana. Secondly, to stop this wildlife management disaster and failure of governance the wolves have to come off the endangered species list, and there is legislation to that effect tied up in committee both in the congress and in the senate.

What can we do as a club? Our position has to be that, based on historical information, wolves do not belong into settled landscapes and legislation to that effect counters the public good.  Secondly, we need to be adamant that wolves entering settlements need to be destroyed.

Sincerely, Val Geist

Of course Professor Geist was met by a howl of protest over his “anti-wolf” comments from the pro-wolf rewilding lobby and their lackeys in our State wildlife agencies, and in our State and Federal government.  As a distinguished scientist, author, and lecturer, Professor Geist is eminently well qualified to comment on these issues.  His recommendations regarding how to handle game suspected of being contaminated with hydatid disease are printed in Canadian hunting manuals and trapping regulations. [See my post, “LIVING WITH WOLVES – “What to Expect Next”].

Dr. Geist maintains that those who play down the significance of hydatid disease in the ungulate/wolf predator prey cycle,  “ignore numerous research in other states, provinces and countries, indicating that the increase in parasite infestation inevitably results in predators killing far more of the prey species.”  Hydatid cysts can grow inside a human for 10 to 15 years without causing symptoms.  Eventually some of them may become painful, while some may burst and cause sudden death.  Without an autopsy, the real cause of death may never be known.

Besides the safe handling of carcasses and advice for travellers in wolf country, (which could be just about anyone anywhere these days), Dr. Geist advises that to control the disease, “we may have to do controlled burning of big game winter ranges to burn off the eggs.”

This sounds a bit extreme until one begins to understand how wolves spread hydatid disease across the landscape and the serious threat this, and other wolf transmitted diseases, pose to public health.

Folks who happen to kick up or disturb wolf feces risk contamination because, as Dr. Geist points out, “the tiny eggs, liberated by the millions in carnivore feces, are dispersed even by slight air currents.”  Disturbing a pile of dried out wolf feces can “liberate clouds of tape worm eggs and this cloud of eggs will settle on your clothing, your exposed skin, in your sinuses and windpipe, on your lips, and if you inhale, through the mouth in your oral cavity.”  Animals that graze in areas visited by wolves are extremely vulnerable to the parasites.  They can ingest the cysts directly during foraging, or simply pick them up on their fur.

Geist goes on to say that, “People with dogs are at [higher] risk because their dogs may feed, unbeknown to them, on carcasses or gut piles of big game infected with that disease…These dogs will defecate in kennel and yards, spreading the tiny eggs. They will also lick their anus and fur spreading the eggs into their fur. The eggs will cling to boots and be carried indoors, where they float about till they settle down as dust. Now everybody is at risk of infection, especially toddlers crawling around on the floor.”

Th CDC has a good visual synopsis of hydatid disease showing how it is transmitted from canines to livestock and then on to humans.  Now substitute an elk, moose, or deer for the sheep in the diagram below, and thousands of untreated wolves for the “dog” pictured and you will begin to see the magnitude of the problem we are facing.


Any responsible dog owner knows that regular veterinary visits are important in maintaining their dog’s health. But how many will go out for a walk in the woods and not know that their dog has picked up hydatid cysts on their paws or fur and brought them back into their yards and homes?  Even if dogs are not allowed inside the home, a dog owner can track the cysts into the house on their shoes.

As Geist explains, “Hunters and ranching folks keeping or hunting with dogs in areas infected with hydatid disease are thus much more at risk than urban populations. The disease is silent, difficult to detect till very late, innocuous when the infection is light, provided the cyst is not interfering with vital functions, but lethal if it does, especially if cysts form in the brain…..Since hydatid disease is a silent disease that takes time to develop, there is not likely to be a problem till a number of people down the road are affected seriously.”

See the entire PDF  “Dr. Valerius Geist’s Response to the Claims That Hydatid Disease Spread by Wolves Does Not Represent a Significant Threat to Humans” here:

In a Jan. 2, 2011 article “Worldwide Evolution of the Predator Disease Echinococcus granulosus and Its Impacts” By Clayton [Clay] H. Dethlefsen, AS, BS, MBA, MMS, PI, PS, IT, WPCA President and Executive Coordinator, and Dr. Jack K. Ward, DVM- Medical Director, state that:

“The disease is considered to be so rare in the United States that our physicians do not deliberately examine for Hydatid Cyst. Hence, discovery is by accident rather than by design. This is an extremely dangerous oversight. Many of our loved ones may be, or are now being, exposed to the disease while hunting, fishing, camping or engaging in other outdoor activities.”

“Additional countries are adding to the knowledge we now have about the devastation E. granulosus and E multilocularis are reaping. Hence, there are no doubts these diseases present a worldwide Health, Safety and Welfare problem. More importantly for us, they are creating a very local one.”

“Of these two species, E granulosus is now solidly established in our Northwest, including Alaska, and Canada. Although E multilocularis is usually the most lethal, E granulosus, because of its widespread geographical and concentrated ecological distribution, is now considered to be more infectious to humans.”

Gustave Doré – Death on the Pale Horse (1865)

In Turkey, a nation that has a significant population of wolves,  hydatid disease is described as a “common infectious disease” present in sheep, cattle, dogs, and humans.  It is often fatal.  Although this Turkish Health Ministry video ignores the original source of the problem (wolves), it does provide crucial information for U.S. citizens that we just aren’t getting from our own departments of health or wildlife:

The loss of common sense among the general populace over the last fifty years guaranteed that the breakdown in governance we are witnessing today was inevitable.   Millions of Americans are now at increased risk of contracting wolf borne pestilences on a scale not seen since the middle ages.  Blame rests squarely on the shoulders of all those folks who acted in favor of rewilding the planet.  But there’s enough guilt to go around to cover everyone else who didn’t do a damn thing to stop it.

9 thoughts on “LIVING WITH WOLVES Pt. 4 – A Breakdown in Governance

  1. Ruth

    After reading Part 4 of your series and going through many of your linked articles and reports, I was struck by the overall lack of concern by officials as to the very real possibility of transmission of Hydatid Disease to humans. What I’ve read suggested to me that those who are downplaying the issue are doing so based on the low number of reported cases.
    As I did additional reading on the human cases that actually have been reported, I see that the disease itself is doing plenty of silent, in some cases, deadly damage inside it’s human carrier over the 15 years it may go undetected.
    With the astronomical increase in the number of wolves over the past 15 years, and looking at the increase and easy transmission of this disease between the wolf, ungulate, and domestic animal populations – it seems very much within the realm of possibility that 10-15 years from now, we could also see a devastating increase of reported cases of Hydatid disease in humans.


  2. Dennis

    Ruth, it’s amazing how well you summarized all this info, but there is no surprise to the callous attitude the “naturalist/materialist” has toward the suffering of others when there’s no political gain to be had; often and long ago I’ve referred to the trend in Hollywood to promulgate the idea that to “save billions, millions must die.” In their ideology there is no room for the dignity and freedom of man (excepting the freedom of abortion which fits the pattern), this also fits well with the socio-political results of no God/no judgment, and the self-policing that a “free” society requires to remain free.
    As I understand it, the national statistics of crime are down, yet everywhere it is obviously up (Like we all knew that the murder of our four citizens in Libya was not a mob, all except those in Government tooling the Am. people), yet when rape, murder, rioting is not recorded or reduced to lesser crimes, i.e. assault, manslaughter, and dismissed, then a right or righteous judgment can’t be made.
    If the MSM tells you that the claims for first time unemployment dropped by 30,000, and forget to tell you that California wasn’t included in the statistics, then in “your” mind all is well with the world and with technocratic Government fueled by short-sighted hedonists with an agenda that doesn’t weigh the costs.
    Another example is when I see a mother and father of a little girl, kidnapped, raped, and murdered by a paroled rapist, and they are in tears on the supper-time news crying for justice, and come to find out that all along they have been voting for these politicians which allow these bipedal-beasts early parole or at all. Well, I have tears for that little girl, but when The System teaches you that as long as wolves of any kind tear apart anyone’s life, it’s time to be accountable.
    In NH, Obama is tied with Romney, but how can that be when things are so bad? Will a general decline in the quality of living now be the acceptable norm. Hey, just let me have Showtime and HBO, maybe make dope legal, and life will be good, I can live with that! Can’t you?

  3. It’s important to identify who the terrorists are.

    At the 10/5/12 WDFW Commission Hearing, the first order of business was to warn the gallery that extra security was on hand and that any “disruptions will not be tolerated”.

    The Commission had received anonymous death threats because of their decision to support the removal of the Wedge pack by WDFW agents. Livestock owners wanted those wolves removed after they became habituated to feeding on cattle. Fish and game agents agreed it was the right thing to do. The State Wolf plan, that was four years in development, called for it. But nobody said anything about the fact that ALL the violent threats and anonymous incivility posted all across the web came from the liberal left, all those “peace loving” wolf-recolonization advocates.

    The ranchers and livestock owners were exceptionally polite and dignified and well reasoned through the whole thing. Tells us something about the radical left in this country, eh?

    This very disturbing 2009 video documents the death threats received by the first Idaho hunter to take a wolf legally:

    This next video is a bit hard to follow if you don’t know what’s going on, but it’s clear Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Tony McDermott, (a retired real estate agent), is one of those downplaying Hydatid disease. Here he claims to be an expert and goes on record saying that those who are even raising the issue or want more information about hydatid disease should have “wolf scat spread on their comment cards”.

    Here’s a video I found very hard to watch. An interview of some of the typical liberal leftist armchair “environmentalists” who showed up at the CDA Fish and Game office to protest the very first Idaho wolf hunt. How many of these folks do you think voted for Obama?

    And people wonder why I say we get the kind of government we deserve. Look who’s voting.

  4. Probably the one thing that frustrates me the most is that so many well meaning conservative Americans just don’t see the big picture. They get all riled up about the deficit, taxes and the economy, individual rights vs. the rights of the socialist collective, etc.

    Yet none seem to understand that wolf recolonization is THE KEY.

    Stop wolf recolonization and you stop the whole elitist NWO U.N. driven Agenda 21 socialist takeover of America.

    Fail to stop wolf recolonization, and nothing else matters.

  5. I’ve updated LIVING WITH WOLVES Pt. 3 – Strategies and Suggestions.

    Ruth reminded me how important it is to draw the connections back to the 1992 U.N. Rio Conference on the Environment, where Sustainable Development, (Agenda 21), got it’s global impetus. Also important to mention the U.N Treaty on Biodiversity, and the Earth Charter. These are the basic agreements and documents detailing the philosophy behind the wolf recolonization movement. And I should add, wolf recolonization is absolutely essential in the planned global reduction in the human population.

    I’ve also included a portion of the original Wildlands Map published by the Wildlands Project (as opposed to the simulated map created by Dr. Michael Coffman that has been passed around on various websites to alert people about the WP. Coffman’s map was based on his own subjective analysis of WP intentions. I commend Dr. Coffman for doing so much to raise awareness about this issue, but his map is just plain wrong.)

    The original WP map shows large bio-regions where human habitation and development is to be severely restricted. These areas are immense. The original map was removed from the WP website shortly after publication because it drew so much negative attention.

  6. Here’s something else to consider. Studies are beginning to suggest a corrolation between wolf overpopulation and the transmission of TSE. This is known as Chronic Wasting Disease in game animal populations, BSE, or “mad-cow” disease in the cattle industry, and sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans.

    According to the World Health Organization:

    “Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), also known as prion diseases, are fatal degenerative brain diseases that occur in humans and certain animal species. They are characterized by microscopic vacuoles and the deposition of amyloid (prion)protein in the grey matter of the brain. All forms of TSE are experimentally transmissible.”

    Like that Finnish wolf biologist said, we are on the Titanic, heading for the iceberg.

  7. Ruth

    ‘Grey Wolf News’ links to a January 2, 2011 report titled: “Worldwide Evolution of the Predator Disease Echinococcus granulosus And it’s Impacts”
    The author’s of the report, understand the ‘extremely dangerous oversight’ of many environmental and public health ‘experts’ who continue to undermine and downplay the human toll that could take place due to Hydatid and other potentially fatal parasitic diseases.
    In the report I read something I hadn’t thought about before.

    “To complicate matters, many of our service members are returning from areas of the world where the disease is prevalent and infectious. Their exposure is nearly certain. Therefore, under current Health Department Policy, it is inevitable that our service men and women, who served in the Middle East, will not only contract the disease, but that it will go undiagnosed, possibly for years.”

    Steve, Are you familar with the ‘Western Predator Control Association ‘ WPCA? I’ve been reading some articles on their website and my interpretation of what I’m reading is that they share the concern about the dangers of wolf re-colonization.
    You may have already linked to this report and I missed it. If so, sorry for the repeat.

  8. Ruth,

    I’m always amazed at what you are able to find. Thanks for posting the link to this very informative WPCA article. I inserted excerpts from the article into my blog. The nice thing about a blog is that it can be updated with new info. I also inserted a chart from the CDC which helps explain the scope of the problem visually.

  9. Need further evidence of a breakdown in governance?

    H.B. 1107 contained language that would have required the Washington State Department of Health to work with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to:

    “implement a program to detect, interdict, and assess the epidemiological consequences of diseases that may afflict or may be carried by wolves and the actual and potential impact of wolves’ role in such diseases upon human health in the state.”

    Rewilding proponents claimed such language raised “irrational fears” that could lead to “less tolerance” towards wolves among the general public. The legislation never had a chance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s