Thursday, August 26, 2010

Red Riding Hood returns

There are times when even I succumb to the temptations of glorious headlines and actually buy a newspaper. This time this particular newspaper is a local one, very local, and makes no pretense at hiding its political bias. It’s rubbish-standard tabloid journalism  that, had it been a British periodical, would have probably evolved into the sun or the mail. A sort of felt pen on toilet paper paper but even so I bought a copy. It just goes to show that there’s a bit of the daily mail reader in everyone bursting to get out.
Well the title that got my attention was “50 sheep killed by wolves” on the front page. I’m fascinated by willful human ignorance and stupidity and when there are wolves involved this always provides excellent reading.
The headline even took precedence over “the Waldensians facing a question of homosexuality” relative to the Waldensian Synod this week which considering that we live in the Waldesian valleys is surprising. Wolves obviously sell more papers than gays and the church. Everyone hates a wolf it seems.
Basically, though the shepherds are fully reimbursed for any sheep killed by wolves the system is cumbersome (they think they’re the only ones having to deal with cumbersome systems??!!) and they’re not happy (they are never happy, period). These herdsmen  who, maybe wrongly, come across as exceedingly sniveling and wimpish and who by the way spend most of the day anywhere but on the hills leaving the herds to roam freely about the hills guarded by their huge and aggressive dogs (provided free it seems), are now afraid that the wolves will attack people and/or put their whole way of life at risk. I’m somewhat biased of course, in the opposite direction. Loads more wolves, far, far fewer shepherds please, but I realize I’m in a minority of one. I don’t see that just because you have some sheep you have any more right to the mountains than anyone or anything else. I don’t believe that economical interests should influence land management. And certainly not wipe out these magnificent animals just because you can’t be arsed to look after your animals as you should. Actually, thinking about it perhaps the words shepherd is not really accurate terminology because they’d don’t’ actually do that. They claim their jobs have got harder because they have to look after their flocks which is what I thought shepherding was all about.. But realistically , you rarely see a shepherd actually shepherding in the traditional sense. Total respect (can’t believe I’m actually using such terminology) to those that do but most don’t seem to. 
Anyway the article mentions a certain politician mr. bonasea, who couldn’t be anything but in berlusconi’s party, and who, it seems is now leading the battle to try and get these fearsome baby-stealing, cow-killing predators culled before they attack somebody. He’s undertaken a study (i.e. most probably read a few articles reported by other ill-informed people like franco grill who was/is deputy mayor of Prali, the wolf capital of the western hemisphere if you read his reported drivel) and concluded that there have been 50 sheep killed this year in june and july alone and even that a herd of cows had been attacked. I’m not a shepherd or a cow herd but that sounded just a little improbable considering the number of wolves in the territory so I went to check and can find no official reference to such a figure or such an event (I’m not saying there isn’t just that I haven’t found it). Last year there were 370 animals attacked by ‘canidae’ but there is no distinction made as far as I have been able to find between feral dog attacks and wolf attacks. The problem of feral dogs has been around for years but nobody writes articles about them. Only the wolf gets the bad publicity. Talk about paranoia and mass hysteria or perhaps more than anything ignorance and willful manipulation of the truth for personal agendas. Reading this stuff is like returning to the dark ages.
I’ve read recently that people are worried about babies being snatched from cots and I keep coming across a single unsubstantiated account, from the darker history of the village of Prali when wolves entered the village during a particularly rigid winter, which is being used to feed the public’s fear of this creature. It makes my blood boil.  Prali seems to be the epicenter of wolf hatred. They’ve been calling for years to reduce the numbers of deer which have reached plague proportions almost everywhere and now the wolf has done its job, they complaining because there are too few deer.
What it seems to be is more the action of a few individuals in positions of power and influence who, basing their fantastical articles and ‘research’ on fear and loathing born of total ignorance. manipulate people’s fears. Which I suppose is just what politicians do so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.
II’ve even had people at the B&B afraid to go walking in certain areas because I had said there were wolves in the area. What do they think, that a huge black wolf is going to attack and devour them? Are grannies no longer safe? Was Red Riding-hood actually a true story? If you believe some of the reports they must be eating at least  two or three sheep per day plus all the other smaller kills and deer kills. They’d surely have no room for humans too.  Worry about the huge shepherd dogs roaming the hills, not the wolves. But nobody considers the walker in all this anti-wolf hysteria. I’ve had more trouble from shepherd’s dogs than any wild animal ever (‘cept the boar). But all considerations and journalistic fantasies aside I’d love a photo of these wolves to see how fat they are because according to the article 50 sheep were killed in two months in one valley alone, so exaggerating wildly imagine that there are 6 wolves resident n this one valley that’s 50 sheep divided between 6 wolves in two months that’s 1 sheep per wolf per week. And while they are killing all these sheep they are also apparently wiping out the populations of red deer and roe deer and smaller critters like mice and voles and ……

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