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historical decline of the wolf population

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  • historical decline of the wolf population

    As we all know, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw prodigious slaying of wolves. Accelerated slaying probably began in the late sixteenth century. Worldwide wolf population declined from around two million to 200,000 in the mid twentieth century. In many places, the wolf became extirpated. Thanks to conservation efforts it has now increased to around 300,000.

    (I've see one webpage list wolf population at two million. This might have been just the estimated population in the United States alone, so the world wolf population was even greater. I can't find any other source for historical wolf population before its major decline. Anyone with more firmer numbers is welcome to correct me.)

    Being based on our world, the World of Darkness had to exhibit a similar decline even if some details are different. The world went from many millions to a few hundred thousand. That's a decline over 90%.

    This creates a problem. How do we explain it in game? If your games are anything like the ones I've played in, anytime an ST would create a plot where anyone killed a few wolves, the Garou PCs would be all about attacking the hunters, even if they were acting within human law. And many NPCs would do the same, if for no other reason than to not make the sept look like fools in front of the PCs. So this would seem to be an issue that would galavinze the Garou. Allowing some slaying is easy to explain, but not this drastic reduction.

    We can talk about concerns involving the Veil, but I find it hard to believe any nearby sept would allow such killing to go without some form of retaliation or protection.

    But they did, so we need to explain it somehow. Canon really doesn't address it. And to the extent it is mentioned, it is vague and not helpful. I think this is a problem. It is easily overlooked, but I think the game would be strengthened if the setting had some plausible reason how the Garou allowed this.

    I think the default assumption is that at one point, the Garou indeed try to combat it by killing wolf hunters and the like, but it backfired by inspiring even more hunters to join the wolf hunt, so the Garou meekly stepped down and didn't do much for a hundred years or more. But I find this unsatisfying. (If there is another canonical answer somewhere, please share as I don't remember it).

    Was there some Wyrm (or non-Wyrm hunter) organization(s) that used the cover of wolf hunts to lure out Garou and kill them with silver bullets so that Garou stopped defending the wolves out of self-preservation?

    Was it some kind of chiminage issue that Garou couldn't stop it because from a spiritual point of view, it would have caused some kind of mass spirit notoriety that interfered with their rites? If so, what might that be like?

    Similarly, was it some kind of curse or other imposed ban or problem that was the issue? If so, who issued it? Who was this enemy?

    Was there some kind of conflict between homid and lupus during the crucial years of the 19th century? So that homid Garou simply let it happen? In North America, we could see the Eurasian tribes doing that in order to clear out Uktena and Wendigo lupus so they could move in. But that wouldn't make sense in Europe and Asia. Even if the Red Talons angered the other tribes, they would have wanted to protect their own lupus. So this would have had to have been a very broad lupus front to anger the homids so much.

    Are there other alternative explanations? What are some of your ideas?

  • #2
    I should note that one very successful hunting method was the use of strychnine traps or other poisons or passive traps, and that this could result in a lot of wolf deaths that the Garou could not prevent. But it still seems to me that this still would not explain the severe decline we saw. But if you think different, let me know!

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    • #3
      I'm not certain I have answers to all of your questions immediately although I think they're all interesting but I will say here some of the ideas I've had for a while that describes my *general* answer.

      In the World of Darkness, wolves suffered a similar amount of hunting and destruction from humanity as they did irl but the Garou provide the wolves of their world with a sort of advantage in that those garou are able to secret away wolf populations in their septs and hidden places, which, in contrast to the death caused by human hunters seems minute, it is still an important point, at least imo.

      I would also imagine that there are still garou who hunt wolf hunters and advocate for wolf populations to this day. I imagine both Red Talons & High Tribe garou brutally slaying hunters while simultaneously Glass Walkers & Children of Gaia lobbied government for more ecological regulation to protect wolves and Bone Gnawers & Rural Tribes all probably have members who *persuade* their neighbors that hunting wolves in the local mountains would be a bad idea for their health.

      I see the garou probably having more successes in vast rural areas with either less people or less effective regulation/oversight. Places like The Yukon, upper Scandinavia, Eastern Russia & Sibera, etc. It offers them plenty of room for wolves to run freely and avoid humanity alongside their garou protectors and spiritual neighbors.

      Ultimately though, wolves are fighting a losing battle and for garou that's a literal sign of the Apocalypse. Some book mentions a 1:10 ratio of Lupus:Homid garou and that's supremely unhealthy for the Garou Nation. I imagine it's a very real question and debate for the garou who must balance the absolute need to defend one-half of their physical counterparts while also not provoking humanity's collective ire.

      Comment


      • #4
        Certainly the Garou were able to protect some of the wolf population and establish hidden pockets of wolves that escaped the hunters, especially in remote wilderness areas. But I don't think that noticeably affects the setting. Saying only 85% of the wolf population was wiped out instead of 90% doesn't materially change things.

        The way I see it, we have two options.

        The first option is that the Garou resisted the extermination of the wolves. They left a huge pile of killed wolf hunters, but they lost anyway. The Garou were defeated. I don't like this option for several reasons. One is that it deviates too far from history and should have left a far greater historical divergence than can be accounted for in the World of Darkness. Saying the Garou brutally slayed some hunters is fine. I think it can fit within history and lead to all sorts of intriguing legends that the World of Darkness should have. But systematic retaliation killing of wolf hunters is just too much. It would have severe butterfly effects. So it couldn't have happened. The other reason is that since the Garou did lose against normal humans despite this, I think it makes them look like chumps which I think undermines the game's setting too much.

        So that leaves the second option - something held back the Garou, or there was some other secret force involved. They didn't put up the kind of mass resistance we expect because they simply couldn't. I think figuring that out could potentially add some really interesting lore into the setting. It's just a matter of figuring something that fits the setting and potentially offers another tool for STs to use in the game.

        For example, the Vampire game used historical events like the Black Death to good effect in determining how the death of one third to one half (or more!) of the human population affected vampires, and how that drove setting events like the Anarch Revolt and the formation of the Camarilla and later Sabbat. It was a good use of actual history impacting the setting, and what can be done with it.

        I think the story behind the mass wolf killing could do something similar for Werewolf. I am not talking about retroactively changing the setting or history of the Garou. But that in explaining this, we could develop a few more tools for STs to use in the game.

        What prompted this was a narration of an old Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark I watched recently on YouTube. You can watch it here.



        It's the White Wolf from the original book published in 1981 (pages 27-28 in my copy).

        I immediately thought this was the kind of legend appropriate for a Werewolf game. It got my imagination running. But then I started thinking about the greater issue of mass wolf killings in the setting, and how the sourcebooks fail to address it. So that's why I started this thread.

        Comment


        • #5
          I do agree that for the World of Darkness at large the fact that ~85% of the world wolf population was killed doesn't make much material difference as opposed to ~90%. It allows for lucky rural septs to host wolf populations and reserved populations for others while still keeping the horrific loss (to the garou at the very least) of lupine life and the hunting-ranching cultures surrounding them.

          As to the first option I can definitely see why one would be wary but I think that it can be contextualized to work fairly well. The garou would have certainly combatted the hunters to some degree and so ghost stories of vanished hunting parties for humans and 'heroic' legends of garou slaughtering hunters for the Nation would exist. However the Garou Nation doesn't have the numbers to combat hunters, trappers, and ranchers everywhere. I can see it as a reinforcement of the necessity of the veil for many, as even with the Nation's full-throated defense of wolf packs, human hunters won via sheer numbers. Plus, the Nation couldn't practically drop everything to fight mostly mundane hunters, so the killing fell hard. I think that this does mean that wolf hunters had a more 'badass' rep in the WoD then elsewhere and it was known as a very dangerous task, but hunters wouldn't disappear in enough numbers to massively impact the fur trade or hunting cultures.

          I do think that there is definite potential in the second answer to explain things as well. No doubt there would have been fomori hunters and banes in the mix with the goal of crippling the garou, but I think that this could also be a place to highlight a pre-Pentex Wyrm Cult that foreshadows the Garou's trials to come. Similar to the Circle of Red or the Society of the Weeping Moon, I can easily imagine a Wyrm-cult centered around a hunting lodge or fur company or government office (or a conspiracy combining them all) that was dedicated to furthering the trade. I can see that this alongside perhaps a Maeljin Incarna or Wyrm Totem or Great/Tyrant Bane representing disrespectful hunters (Called 'Flint' or 'Feral One' or what have you) that could represent a major threat to the Garou of the time.

          I definitely think that this is ripe for narrative opportunities and the sort of thing that is very possible for a 'Por Que No Los Dos' sort of situation.

          Comment


          • #6
            Garou, like humans. are short sighted idiots a lot of the time.

            Perhaps almost every single surviving wolf in the world today is kinfolk simply because the Garou didn't bother to protect non-kin wolves. Certainly they slaughtered any hunters that came into their territory and killed lupus kinfolk.....but all those other wolves? Somebody elses problem.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Damian May View Post
              Certainly they slaughtered any hunters that came into their territory and killed lupus kinfolk.....but all those other wolves? Somebody elses problem.
              Except they didn't. Because if every Garou sept protected the wolves in their own protectorates, then the modern wolf population would adhere closely to their historic range, but it doesn't. It's not simply that the wolf population became lower. They were extirpated completely from major portions of where they once lived.

              This is from Wikipedia Commons:


              (And I think some of that green is excessive due to lack of data. Russia has a lot of the wolf population, but I doubt wolf packs cover the entire country like that - are there really wolves in the Moscow and Volgograd metropolitan areas?)

              For example, the wolf was almost completely extirpated from the United States (and some of that green is due to recent reintroductions). The game assumes most of the US has Garou septs and caerns. And there are Garou in Ireland and Britain, but no more wolves. So they obviously didn't slaughter hunters killing wolves in their lands.

              Saying "but they didn't help others" or "didn't help non-kinfolk wolves" doesn't answer the question.

              It's entirely possible in your chronicle to say, "Well, there are indeed wolves everywhere present in their historical range, provided there's a local Garou sept. Their numbers are just very, very low." However, I think that undermines a lot of things in the setting. It reduces the threat of extinction which should be a theme in the game. It trivializes the experience of the lupus breed. And it creates too much of a divergence from real history. Instead of being a world outside our door, it seems more like an alternate history with human history being noticeably different from our world. So while it's a potential solution, it is not one I like at all.

              I don't mind it being addressed in this thread, but I think everyone should know of its shortfalls so they can make the determination if it really fits their own chronicles. I don't reject it being a partial answer - there may indeed be some "secret wolf packs" in places not found in our real world. The game does mention that from time to time. But I think that is reserved for very special places and septs/protectorates, and aren't the norm for most of the extirpation range. So we still need to find alternate solutions.

              Comment


              • #8
                Ecologically speaking, wolves might have a bigger break in the WoD compared to real life because the WoD explicitly has a lot more undisturbed wilderness, a lot fewer small settlements to break up said undisturbed wilderness, and way more of every human population packed into urban areas. This means that wildlife has more refuges, which means that they have places to go to recover from losses. A byproduct of the intention to produce a gothic atmosphere ended up as a reasonable explanation for why there are more wolves and other wild predators about. The Garou might even have had little to do directly with higher survival of their kin in this regard; in an ironic twist, it could even be the paranoid, controlling panic of vampires influencing humanity (keep your herds close by!) that kept them from actually scoring a decisive hit against a lot of changers. That's not set, of course, but it is pleasant when another game line's protagonists screw up for the benefit of Werewolf's, for a change.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Honestly part of this might have to due with the inevitable factor that when you change the dials of reality to accommodate certain narrative emphasis and focus upon themes as much as a Gothic-Punk setting does, you run into the problem of different things potentially butting up against each other which I think this is a pretty good example of because you then end up having to ask 'how do the Garou simultaneously champion the cause of wolves while also being on the edge of extinction' which ends up that read straight you pretty much have to go with Garou as a dying breed or else something has to break.

                  Although maybe there's an third alternative that I'm not seeing, which is entirely possible.

                  Personally I think that the best solution is probably to run with things as far as you personally are able to take them and work with it as best you can. For me, I'm alright saying that the garou have managed to protect certain wolf populations lost in real life but far fewer then they would like and with the constant and persistent threat of hunters.

                  Because for example, if wolves were still found wild within the continental United States then it's basically guaranteed that we would still have a constant stream of reports from hunters and ranchers who kill wolves and probably hundreds of ecological-agricultural articles about the threat to rancher livelihoods because of wolf predation of livestock herds, and that's before PENTEX or any other Wyrm cult gets their fingers into the spin of it.

                  I'm honestly curious about what others might be inclined to do to explain it for their games but for me, right now at least I'm partially inclined to just resign myself to somewhat imperfect realism and an in-setting mystery for those outside the loop.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Black Fox View Post

                    Except they didn't. Because if every Garou sept protected the wolves in their own protectorates, then the modern wolf population would adhere closely to their historic range, but it doesn't. It's not simply that the wolf population became lower. They were extirpated completely from major portions of where they once lived.

                    This is from Wikipedia Commons:
                    [ATTACH=CONFIG]temp_826_1593292215567_193[/ATTACH]

                    (And I think some of that green is excessive due to lack of data. Russia has a lot of the wolf population, but I doubt wolf packs cover the entire country like that - are there really wolves in the Moscow and Volgograd metropolitan areas?)

                    For example, the wolf was almost completely extirpated from the United States (and some of that green is due to recent reintroductions). The game assumes most of the US has Garou septs and caerns. And there are Garou in Ireland and Britain, but no more wolves. So they obviously didn't slaughter hunters killing wolves in their lands.

                    Saying "but they didn't help others" or "didn't help non-kinfolk wolves" doesn't answer the question.

                    It's entirely possible in your chronicle to say, "Well, there are indeed wolves everywhere present in their historical range, provided there's a local Garou sept. Their numbers are just very, very low." However, I think that undermines a lot of things in the setting. It reduces the threat of extinction which should be a theme in the game. It trivializes the experience of the lupus breed. And it creates too much of a divergence from real history. Instead of being a world outside our door, it seems more like an alternate history with human history being noticeably different from our world. So while it's a potential solution, it is not one I like at all.

                    I don't mind it being addressed in this thread, but I think everyone should know of its shortfalls so they can make the determination if it really fits their own chronicles. I don't reject it being a partial answer - there may indeed be some "secret wolf packs" in places not found in our real world. The game does mention that from time to time. But I think that is reserved for very special places and septs/protectorates, and aren't the norm for most of the extirpation range. So we still need to find alternate solutions.

                    Ok. Sorry, I'll shut up.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Same Reason Native Americans hit a far worse decline? Or the Irish were conquered by the British and the Potato famine happened? The more you allow supernaturals to Guide history the more you have to give them responsibility for. Wolf deaths like Indiginous people deaths seem to have happened RELATIVELY quickly. You go on a spirit quest for a few months and by the time you're back all the wolves are gone.. Revenge isn't going to bring them back.

                      Same with the fact that in the US at least we know there was almost a third war of rage over territory with whites vs Purelanders thoughout the 19th century along with the STorm Eater.. there's plenty of "More important" stuff to explain why Wolves got the shaft.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lian View Post
                        Same Reason Native Americans hit a far worse decline? Or the Irish were conquered by the British and the Potato famine happened? The more you allow supernaturals to Guide history the more you have to give them responsibility for. Wolf deaths like Indiginous people deaths seem to have happened RELATIVELY quickly. You go on a spirit quest for a few months and by the time you're back all the wolves are gone.. Revenge isn't going to bring them back.

                        Same with the fact that in the US at least we know there was almost a third war of rage over territory with whites vs Purelanders thoughout the 19th century along with the STorm Eater.. there's plenty of "More important" stuff to explain why Wolves got the shaft.
                        I think you brought up a good point, but most of these already have answers. Or in cases where there's not, it's much easier to explain.

                        First, the decline of the Pure Ones is well established in the game. It's part of the general lore that they lost an entire third of their numbers when the Croatan perished fighting the Eater-of-Souls. We also know that from history lots of diseases greatly reduced the Native American populations. That was going to have some kind of impact to the Uktena and Wendigo Garou at some point, and there isn't much they can do to bring back the dead. And finally, we know that while weakened, the Eurasian tribes moved in. We know that the Pure One Garous did indeed fight back, but that it was a losing battle as Garou were fighting other Garou.

                        In regards to the Potatoe Famine in Ireland, it isn't a simple case of kinfolk stock or someone's protectorate being wiped out. Many people died, but not everyone. Kinfolk, being protected by their Garou, may have had a better chance to survive than non-kinfolk. And kinfolk could migrate - much of the Irish Diaspora came during this time. And of course, there were already Fianna in England and elsewhere. So while tragic, this does not have anywhere near the impact of something like the mass wolf slayings that lasted for more than a century. Compare to a famine lasting only a few years. And of course, while a Garou could attack a hunter, one really can't fight a microorganism. I think most human tragedies can be dealt with the same way. Those are things that most Garou easily overcome.

                        So I still think there's something missing in regards to the mass wolf slayings.

                        Going back to my first point, if an ST ever mentions that someone is out killing wolves, there is almost always an immediate reaction by PCs to do something about it. Regardless of their tribe or breed. It is something that gets automatically prioritized. So if it is something that didn't get prioritized for one or two centuries (as opposed to a temporary crisis), I think it is something that compels us to explain it. And I think this could lead to something useful in the game.

                        So some level of brainstorming of what could explain this is called for. But I'm not seeing any brainstorming ideas. Just people saying "I just ignore this in my games," or "This actually didn't happen and there are lots of wolves everywhere" or "The Garou really don't care." For various reasons, those aren't helpful to this thread even if that is the stance you may take in your individual chronicles.

                        I think it's a mystery that can be productively investigated. Even something as prosaic as "there was a worldwide network of werewolf hunters active at the time, and they would kill any Garou who ambushed the wolf hunters" is the start of something productive. As we'd then need to explore their origins, the basis of their lore, and the reasons for their success. And then we could start building on that to determine what happened to this knowledge. Is this information still out there? How does that create potential plots for modern day chronicles? is it a case that Black Spiral Dancer kinfolk were involved, and this was part of a plan by the tribe of the Wyrm to weaken their opponents? Something else? Maybe those BSD kin were involved, but still weren't everything. But they provided much of the lore that wasn't previously known to human hunters.

                        And it may not have just one cause. But a variety of causes that intersected and collectively explained things.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          [QUOTE=Black Fox;n1400213]

                          I think you brought up a good point, but most of these already have answers. Or in cases where there's not, it's much easier to explain.

                          First, the decline of the Pure Ones is well established in the game. It's part of the general lore that they lost an entire third of their numbers when the Croatan perished fighting the Eater-of-Souls. We also know that from history lots of diseases greatly reduced the Native American populations. That was going to have some kind of impact to the Uktena and Wendigo Garou at some point, and there isn't much they can do to bring back the dead. And finally, we know that while weakened, the Eurasian tribes moved in. We know that the Pure One Garous did indeed fight back, but that it was a losing battle as Garou were fighting other Garou.

                          In regards to the Potatoe Famine in Ireland, it isn't a simple case of kinfolk stock or someone's protectorate being wiped out. Many people died, but not everyone. Kinfolk, being protected by their Garou, may have had a better chance to survive than non-kinfolk. And kinfolk could migrate - much of the Irish Diaspora came during this time. And of course, there were already Fianna in England and elsewhere. So while tragic, this does not have anywhere near the impact of something like the mass wolf slayings that lasted for more than a century. Compare to a famine lasting only a few years. And of course, while a Garou could attack a hunter, one really can't fight a microorganism. I think most human tragedies can be dealt with the same way. Those are things that most Garou easily overcome.


                          Going back to my first point, if an ST ever mentions that someone is out killing wolves, there is almost always an immediate reaction by PCs to do something about it. Regardless of their tribe or breed. It is something that gets automatically prioritized. So if it is something that didn't get prioritized for one or two centuries (as opposed to a temporary crisis), I think it is something that compels us to explain it. And I think this could lead to something useful in the game.

                          I am going to trim these down because you seem to have missed my point. If an ST had 9/10s of the human population is dying of a disease... would your characters get involved? or "All the humans are starving". That is why I bring them up. If you treat history as endless Pc plots.. it doesn't make sense. I mean it wouldn't take more than a garou or two to have destroyed many of the extremely fragile early North American settlements.. and it wouldn't be hard to see them as the blame for the diseases.

                          Even more extreme... it would have been pretty easy Fianna to stop the Potato famine. Or destroy Roman Legions. Or Stop the Spread of Christianity or... I can go on. The death of wolves is.. not any wierder than any part of history that includes Garou looking vaguely similar to ours.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If I had the time to pull out some things from folklore and the various books of the Wyrms I'd probably write up some things along these two lines for plot hooks in these periods and regarding the fall of the wolf population.

                            •The Hunter Bane
                            Whether called 'Flint' or 'Gilgamesh' or something else entirely, this great bane embodies the arrogant hunter. They hunt to extinction, they gorge on flesh and leave the rest to rot, they are wasteful with bodies, and they are disrespectful to the spirits. They draw the ire of spirits wherever they go and taint humans and drive them to pride and excess. Whatever bison aye gunned down or big game hunters slay the endangered for their ego alone, The Bane Hunter walks. In the times where the kinfolk of the changing breed are at threat, The Bane Hunter became a dreadful thing and great threat. The Gaians must battle them and their minions viciously and that draws their attention partially away from mortal hunters as banes hound wolf spirits and The Bane Hunter's fomori hound wolves.

                            •The Lodge
                            -This name is a placeholder to represent a Wyrmish cult that arose similarly to Premium Oil and the Society of the Weeping Moon. Perhaps pledged to The Bane Hunter or to the Maeljin Incarna of Greed or Gluttony or Pride or simply Eater-of-Souls; those in the know are taught through the traditions and rites of the lodge how to sacrifice animal spirits and use the power of their prey to gain spiritual boons and power. For those at the periphery the lodge is simply a fraternal society of hunters, from the highest to the lowest classes. The highest operate as big game hunters and patrons of lower hunters and support crews while the lowest are whipped into terrified frenzies about human-killer bears and wolves in their area.

                            While not only are perfectly normal humans needing to be battled on the front of the Garou-Hunter Wolf Wars, the wolf-people must also battle tyrant bane's such as The Dread Hunter and its brood alongside servants of the Wyrm such as The Lodge.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              With all the Banes being pointed at humans... Is there actually a concrete reason why no supernatural malady can afflict the wolf kinfolk?

                              I was under the impression that the wilderness in Werewolf's setting is not pure and pristine as long as no human set foot on it. It can be riddled with horrible, monstrous things. It can be tainted, corruptive. The Wyrm isn't limited to just humans, right? They're just really effective. So what if there was, or even is, something turning wolves into monsters that needed to be put out of their misery?

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