BOOKS: Wild Dogs: past & present
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1995:
Wild Dogs: past & present
by Kelly Milner Halls
Darby Creek Publishing
(7858 Industrial Parkway, Plain City, OH 43064),
2005. 64 pages, hardcover, illustrated. $18.95.
ddressing children, Kelly Milner Halls in W i l d
Dogs pleads for appreciation and tolerance of coyotes, dingoes,
dholes, foxes, wolves, and other wild canines. Often persecut-
ed as alleged predators of livestock, each in truth preys much
more heavily on rodents and other so-called nuisance wildlife.
Wild Dogs is overall a unique and fascinating look at
dogs and dog relatives who predate humanity. Tracing the evo-
lution of dogs, Milner Halls points out that each variety of liv-
ing wild dog is a remnant of the evolution of current domestic
pet dogs, and observes that contrary to stereotype, not all
primitive dogs are ferocious carnivores. Many routinely con-
sume some plant food. The mild-mannered maned wolf of
southern South America is especially fond of fruit.
Much more could have been said about primitive
dogs, humans, and our influences on each other, had Milner
Halls not been obliged to work within a set length limit.
Another whole book could have been written about
the plight of primitive dogs today. Not only wild dogs but also
the oldest branches of the domestic dog family are often abom-
inably treated. In this category are Asian street dogs, African
pariah dogs, and tanukis, or “Asian raccoon dogs.”
Tanuki now exist mainly on Chinese fur farms. Some
are skinned alive, according to recent exposes by Swiss
Animal Protection, the Environment & Animal Society of
Taiwan, Care For The Wild, of Britain, and the Beijing News.
Milner Halls did not mention farmed tanuki, and
mostly missed opportunities to expose some of the many mis-
guided efforts to “conserve” wild dogs by means which might
actually ensure their extinction.
Page 29, for example, describes the Channel Islands
fox, native only to six islands off the California coast, without
mentioning that the fox has become endangered as result of a
35-year putsch against feral livestock waged by the National
Park Service and The Nature Conservancy.
The foxes prospered at first, feasting on dead ani-
mals. But golden eagles flew in from the mainland to share the
carrion. When the carrion ran out, the eagles turned on the
foxes, as well as the young of the surviving pigs.
Now the official line is that eradicating the pigs will
send the eagles elsewhere, but they might eat the last foxes
first, other than those in a captive breeding program.
On pages 40-41 Milner Halls praises Ethiopia Wolf
Conservation Program founder Claudio Sillero for allegedly
saving Ethiopian wolves from an October 2003 rabies epidemic
by vaccinating local domestic dogs.
In actuality, the EWCP vaccinated some pet dogs
and working dogs, but for nearly three years ignored the rec-
ommendation of Homeless Animal Protection Society
cofounder Efrem Legese that street dogs should be vaccinated
too. Sillero and his successor, Stuart Williams, sought to
shoot the the street dogs instead, to keep them from possibly
mating with the wolves.
The EWCP ended the dog vaccination effort in July
2003. Within weeks another HAPS cofounder, Hana Kifle,
photographed an apparently rabid wolf. The EWCP failed to
respond to this and other early warnings of a rabies outbreak
until October, when it seized upon the outbreak as a new pre-
text to shoot street dogs, and grossly overstated the amount of
vaccination that had been done––as their own annual reports
revealed. Fleeing gunfire, the surviving street dogs ran for
cover, toward the wolves’ habitat.
For exposing the situation through ANIMAL PEO-
P L E, Kifle and Legese both lost senior positions at Bale
Mountains National Park, and were persecuted with bogus
criminal charges, eventually rejected by the courts in both
Addis Ababa and Goma.
ANIMAL PEOPLE is now paying Kifle and Legese
modest salaries while they continue the work of HAPS.
Milner Halls, to her credit, was appalled at discover-
ing her oversights. She promised immediately to seek ways to
set the record straight in future writings.