Grade 4

Weekly Reader Article

Crying Wolf

U.S. Map

Leigh Haeger

Standing on a cliff, a sharpshooter carefully aimed his rifle at a Mexican gray wolf. Bulls-eye! The wolf went down. A short time later, he shot a second wolf.

The wolves, however, weren't injured. The sharpshooter had shot special darts at them. The darts contained a drug that put the wolves to sleep.

U.S. government officials picked up the sleeping wolves. They planned to move the wolves to an area far away from people.

A Wolf Hunt

The two wolves are part of a program to bring wolves back to Arizona and New Mexico. Until about 1900, the Mexican gray wolf lived in both states. Some of the wolves ate cattle and attacked people. People hunted the wolves because they thought the animals were dangerous. By 1950, few wolves were left in the area.

The U.S. government has brought wolves back to those states. But ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico say wolves are causing problems again.

Living With Animals

Ranchers say the wolves that the sharpshooters hit with darts killed 19 calves. The ranchers fear that the wolves might attack people as well.

"I can handle the bears and the mountain lions and the bobcats," said one rancher. When you see [those animals], they take off. They're scared of you. These wolves, they're not scared. And that's what scares me."

The ranchers say wolves cannot be reintroduced to their area because too many people live there now. "You can't turn back the clock," one person said.

Dangerous Animals

What's the scariest animal? Is it a grizzly bear, a shark, or a wolf? Or is it something else? Believe it or not, deer are more dangerous.

Deer may seem harmless, but they can cause a lot of trouble. Deer often wander onto busy roads. When they do, they can cause car accidents. In 2001, deer caused 26,000 car accidents. A year earlier, they caused 83 human fatalities.