Two items appear below:

1 Wolves and the Bible
2 Dangerous Woves and Eternity



(Investigator 111, 2006 November)

Jesus said:

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away – and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. (John 10:11-13)

Jesus’ message here is primarily spiritual – but today we’ll examine the accuracy of the biology behind it.

Do wolves ever kill people? Are wolves so dangerous that a shepherd may "lay down his life" and "hired hands" flee and let the sheep perish?

The wolf's ferocity and nocturnal habits are mentioned in Genesis 49:27; Jeremiah 5:6; Ezekiel 22:27; Habakkuk 1:8; Zephaniah 3:3; Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29.



Wolves are carnivorous animals resembling a German shepherd but grow larger with broader head, stronger jaws and bigger feet. North American wolves weigh up to 80kg, wolves in Western Europe about 35kg. Wolves can travel up to 40km in one night.

Current estimated wolf populations in Europe are Russia (20,000); Romania (2,500); Spain (2,000); Bulgaria (1,000); Italy (600); Poland (600); Greece (500); Portugal (300).


Adventure-novelist Jack London (1876-1916) wrote Wild Fang (1906) wherein he described wolves attacking humans and dogs:

When the ravenous beasts took out one of the last dogs, Bill grabbed his rifle and their last three rounds of ammunition, determined to prevent another killing. His three shots missed and the wolves set upon him as well as the dog. Within minutes there was only silence, but the pack was still hungry. Henry, now alone, began preparing to survive the night…

Biologist B. Rensberger (1977) criticized:

Rather than relying on first-hand experience for his writings, London borrowed instead from fairy tails. There is, for example, no evidence of a wild wolf ever killing a human in all of North America. There is only one documented case of a wolf even injuring a person and that animal almost certainly had rabies. Even in Europe and Asia, where the wolf has been the archetype of evil for thousands of years, modern authorities on wolf behavior have concluded that the vast majority, if not all alleged wolf attacks are false and that the handful of proven attacks were the work of rabid wolves or of wolf-dog hybrids… (pp 48-57)

Rensberger cites other experts:

In 1931 S.I. Ognev, a Russian zoologist, reported that "Cases of attacks are much rarer than is believed. Dinnik reports that he knows of no authentic case of a (non-rabid) wolf attacking a man in the Caucasus."

A website by the International Wolf Center cites two reports:

The first report, "The fear of wolves: A review of wolf attacks on humans" edited by John Linnell, documents worldwide wolf attacks over the last 400 years. After reviewing hundreds of records, this report concludes that historically attacks on humans were very rare, and attacks in the 20th century are even rarer.

The second report, "A case history of wolf-human encounters in Alaska and Canada" by Mark McNay, documents 80 wolf-human interactions that have occurred in the last 60 years. Of the 80 cases described in this article, none were fatal, and only 25 involved unprovoked aggression by healthy wolves.


Wolves have attacked, even killed, people in recent times:

In the grand duchy of Posen nineteen adults and children were torn to shreds in 1820, although in the previous years the Prussian government had paid a bounty of 4618 Taler for shot wolves. (Bardorff, 1950)

The Advertiser reported:

BUDAPEST: Residents of the southern Hungarian town of Pecs have been warned to stay indoors after a wolf killed an elderly woman, seriously injured three children and bit several other people in nearby woods. The wolf escaped from the local zoo. (December 30, 1995, p. 11)

T. R. Mader, Research Director of Abundant Wildlife Society of North America, studied wolf history for 15 years. On the Internet Mader documents dozens of wolf attacks in North America between the 1880s and 2000, and attacks in other countries:

The government of India reported more than 100 deaths attributable to wolves in one year during the eighties. (Associated Press, 1985)
Rashid Jamsheed, a U.S. trained biologist, was the game director for Iran. He wrote a book entitled "Big Game Animals of Iran." In it he made several references to wolf attacks on humans… In winter, when starving wolves grow bold, they have been known to enter towns and kill people in daylight on the streets. Apparently, in Iran, there are many cases of wolves running off with small children…

 Mader says that wolf attacks in North America are few compared to Asia because efficient fire-arms gave humans the upper hand. He quotes The Yellowstone Nature Book (M.P. Skinner, 1924):

Most of the stories we hear of the ferocity of these animals...come from Europe. There, they are dangerous because they do not fear man, since they are seldom hunted except by the lords of the manor. In America, the wolves…have found to their bitter cost that practically every man and boy carries a rifle.

To biologists who say there are "no documented cases of healthy wild wolves attacking humans" Mader answers that the criteria for "documentation" are unreasonable:

The wolf has to be killed, examined and found to be healthy.
It must be proven that the wolf was never kept in captivity.
There must be eyewitnesses to the attack.
The person must die from the wounds (bites are generally not considered attacks). 


Human-wolf confrontations would have occurred when wolves attacked lifestock, were hunted, had rabies, were starving, lacked fear of humans, were particularly aggressive, were disturbed by humans, and mistook children for natural prey.

Wolves were trapped, speared, stoned and clubbed by men for thousands of years, and in recent centuries shot and poisoned. Natural selection would have favored wolves that avoided people. In other words wolves over time became less dangerous. Jesus commented on wolves 2000 years ago and did so accurately.


Bardorff, W. 1950 Brehms Tierleben, Safari-Verlag, Berlin.

Rensberger, B. 1977 The Cult of the Wild, Anchor Press, USA.


(Investigator 120, 2008 May)

The Bible teaches that wild wolves pose danger to humans. I showed this in #111 and answered wildlife experts who claimed the opposite.

New Scientist magazine says: "As recently as 2005, a Canadian student was killed by wolves while working in a mining camp in Saskatchewan." (23 February, 2008, p. 46)

Ordinarily we trust people if we have experienced them as truthful and reliable on a number of occasions. The Bible, however, has proved correct in hundreds of disagreements across thousands of years, sometimes against the united opposing opinion of virtually all humankind – as shown in Investigator.

Everyone should ponder over this when deciding whom, or what source, to trust for guidance about eternity and God.


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