Saturday, June 14, 2014

About Wolves In Wisconsin, And Who Got Here First

You will often see comments under blog posts or news stories about whether wolves should be hunted in Wisconsin remarks that wolves have no place in the state.
gray wolf
Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This is a distorted reference to wolf reintroduction after the species was essentially extirpated - - wiped out - - decades ago, but let's be clear that wolves are not foreign to Wisconsin. 

You may remember that last week I promoted the appearance at the main Milwaukee library downtown of authors Martha Bergland and Paul Hayes who read from their new, authoritative biography of Increase Lapham, the early Milwaukee settler and first Wisconsin scientist. 

Lapham's biographers do a great job bringing the wild, pre-statehood Milwaukee to life, and I want to copy out a couple of lines from page 130 not only for the chuckle they elicit about how different things were in Milwaukee, circa 1836, but to put on the record the wolf's life in our state that was established before European immigration.
On his second day in Milwaukee, Increase got right to work laying out and leveling streets in Kilbourntown on the west side of the river so that the high places could be graded off and the swampy places filled in (4)...At Ninth and Chestnut the country was so wild that a yankee settler wrote home that timber wolves jumped over the fence into the yard and that the town would never reach that far west. (6).
And certainly also established by the Ojibwe creation story:
Native Americans' relationship with Wolves

The first humans ever associated and interacted with wolves in Wisconsin were the Native Americans.[1] 
They have a strong relationship with nature and animals because they view nature and animals as sacred and important figures in their lives. Some of the tribes living in the region had wolf clans. Clans are organized societies that tribal members belonged to through birth, ritual induction or both.[2]  
Origins and myths states that the wolf clan people came from water, when they reached shore, the wolves transformed into human beings.[3]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another famous favorite son of Milwaukee, Jeremiah Curtin, wrote in his memoirs (see of wolves literally at the door, where the toddler stood, of his family's first home here -- here, in 1838, in what now is Greenfield. He also wrote that "panthers and other wild beasts were numerous" at their farm.