Valerius Geist: When Do Wolves Become Dangerous to Humans?

Geist on Wolves

“Valerius Geist was the world’s foremost deer authority. Born in Ukraine, Geist was  heir to millennia of Central European cultural memory of wolves. He was neither anti-wolf, nor in denial regarding the threat wolves can pose to people. He came to his views as discussed in the following Wikipedia extract.


This blog has always advocated for bear, cougar, and wolf restorations, as can be seen HERE. That being said, those who ignore that wolves and bear have hunted humans for millions of years should read Geist’s paper which is posted below.  As Geist puts it,  “…a necessary condition for attacks to occur is the de facto or de jure protection of wolves. When these conditions are met, wolves begin to explore humans as alternative prey.”  


Limited wolf and bear hunting are necessary to keep wolves and bears wary of people. Without this fear many see humans as food and that puts the wolves and bears in danger.  Again quoting Geist, “It may be counterintuitive, but inefficient hunting is an excellent protector of large carnivores.” 


NOTE: this article was originally published to


Geist on Wolves

Geist became an outspoken commentator on wolves and recognized them as dangerous predators to humans. He was of the opinion that wolves are most likely to fulfill their ecological function in unpopulated and very thinly populated areas. His publications on wolves include as topics also the development of great shyness towards humans by hunting, hybridization with coyotes, where distribution areas of both species overlap, hybridization with domestic dogs in areas populated by humans, and diseases spread by wolves, for example the dog tapeworm, whose larval stages lead to Hydatid disease in herbivores and humans.[7] By triggering panicky flight behavior in deer packs and causing them to migrate, wolves promote the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

In his lectures and writings he pointed out that wolves cause serious damage to wildlife and that they cause great suffering to wild ungulates such as white-tailed deer, elk, and bison by condemning them to a slow, agonising death when they are torn.

The paradigm of the self-regulation of nature is, according to his findings, a simple-minded intellectual error. The mechanisms of negative feedback assumed in this concept would not work like this in nature, but self-reinforcing effects would lead to a decline in biodiversity. With active wildlife management and care, humans can achieve a much greater biodiversity and productivity of ecosystems. Humans can save the game the brutality of getting torn by wolves. Hunters practicing ethical hunting would treat game far more humanely than “nature” does.[8]

Regarding the behavior of wolves towards human beings he described seven steps from strong shyness and avoiding the nearness of the human, then searching anthropogenic food sources and habituation, then possible explorative attacks, in which they only approach, up to predatory attacks on people, that usually take place only under the precondition that the seven steps described by him are passed through.[9][10] He became involved in the inquiry surrounding the death of Kenton Carnegie November 8, 2005 at Wollaston Lake, Points North Landing, Saskatchewan, Canada.[11] Geist expressed growing concern as wolves began to follow his wife outside their home on Vancouver Island and threaten her safety. When wolves appear friendly, they are simply examining the menu. He was openly critical of the myth that wolves do not attack people and observed that Joseph Stalin promulgated this Big Lie in his effort to disarm the rural population which had traditionally kept firearms for protection.

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