It is technically possible but not advisable to eat wolf due to the flavor of the meat, legal regulations that govern wolf hunting, and the possibility of disease.
Humans have killed wolves to protect themselves and their property, and some have killed for sport, but rarely have they killed wolves for their meat. We are going to look at some of the reasons why this is, including:
- The flavor of wolf meat.
- Laws restricting wolf hunting.
- The possibility of disease.
Documentation of Humans Eating Wolf Meat
There are few mentions of humans eating wolf meat throughout history including –
- Native Americans saw wolf meat as edible, but they believed it held no nutrition.
- Ancient Japanese mountain dwellers ate wolf meat to improve their courage.
- European colonists in the Americas would only resort to eating wolf meat in times of starvation.
- In 1913, while on an Arctic expedition, George H. Wilkins ate wolf meat and compared its flavor to chicken meat.
- Transbaikalia natives are one of the few native people worldwide who chose to eat wolf meat when other food was plentiful.
- Many Asian countries use wolf meat in Asian medicine to cure everything from colds to hemorrhoids.
Why Humans Tend to Avoid Wolf Meat
The Flavor and Texture of Wolf Meat
Although few people have eaten wolf meat throughout history, those that have eaten it overwhelmingly describe the meat as being tough and the flavor as bitter or undesirable.
There are very few mentions of wolf meat being palatable, but the most shared is the story of George H. Wilkins. Wilkins was a member of Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s 1913 Arctic expedition, and upon tasting cooked wolf meat, he called it “fine eating” and even compared the flavor to that of chicken.
Laws Governing Wolf Hunting
Eating wolf meat is also not as feasible for many people who may want to try it because of legal regulations on hunting. Over the years, humans have hunted wolves to the point of extinction. Wolf hunts got so out of hand that hunters brought some wolf subspecies to the brink of extinction. Other wolf species existed only in minimal numbers and only in captivity.
In the United States alone, there have been six subspecies of the wolf –
- Eastern Timber Wolves – Eastern timber wolves are classified as threatened and at risk for extinction depending on the location.
- Great Plains Wolves – Great plains wolves were classified as extinct by 1926 after wolf-hunting destroyed the population.
- Mexican Gray Wolves – Humans hunted the Mexican gray wolf to the point of near extinction; this is now the rarest species of the gray wolf in the United States.
- Rocky Mountain Wolves – Humans hunted the Rocky Mountain wolves to the point of near extinction until their status was changed to unthreatened despite the population not yet being sustainable.
- Arctic Wolves – The Arctic wolf population is not currently under threat of extinction; however, with legalized hunting in Canada, the population has declined over the past few years.
The destruction of subspecies and the threat of destruction of others pushed many countries worldwide to pass laws forbidding wolf hunting.
Currently, wolf hunting is only legal in four U.S. states, including Idaho, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana. Wolf hunting seasons for each state varies, and some states have multiple “seasons” based on hunting methods.
Some states require hunting licenses specifically for wolves, other seasons allow for deer hunters to use their hunting license for hunting wolves, and finally, some states do not require a hunting license for wolf hunting at all.
There are also some countries worldwide that do allow for wolf hunting. These countries include:
- The Baltic States.
Many countries where wolf hunting is permitted offer vacation opportunities for wolf hunting – even offering “wolf hunt” vacation packages to tourists. Wolf hunt vacation packages begin at $1,200.
In countries where hunting wolves is against the law, there is less likelihood of people eating wolf meat because humans are not hunting wolves due to the fear of prosecution.
Even in areas where wolf hunting is legal, however, humans hunt wolves for sport or their pelts, very rarely do hunters utilize the meat from wolves that they kill. Most of the time, wolf meat from legally hunted wolves is fed to other animals (like hunting dogs) by hunters.
The Possibility of Disease from Wolf Meat
There is also a possibility of contracting a disease from eating wolf meat. Humans who eat wolf meat are susceptible to contracting various diseases and illnesses. These illnesses include trichinosis, tapeworm, and other parasites.
Humans can contract Trichinosis from wolf undercooked or raw meat that contains the Trichinella parasite.
Symptoms of trichinosis include nausea, diarrhea, fever, muscle soreness, and headaches.
The treatment for trichinosis is antiparasitic drugs. These drugs kill off the adult parasites and prevent more larvae from hatching.
Trichinosis is not transmittable from human to human.
Humans can contract tapeworm from eating undercooked or raw meat that contains tapeworm eggs or larvae.
Once inside the body, the tapeworm larvae will grow into adult tapeworms and adhere to the intestinal wall. Once attached to the intestinal wall, the adult tapeworm produces eggs and sheds those through feces.
Symptoms of tapeworm infection include nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, malnutrition, abdominal pain, weakness, and appetite loss.
Eating raw or undercooked wolf meat also puts humans at risk of contracting E-Coli, salmonella, brucellosis, anthrax, leptospirosis, or hepatitis.
Conclusion / Summary
While the wolf is edible, the flavor of wolf meat and, the potential for disease, very few people have eaten or currently eat wolf meat. Unfortunately, the lack of demand for wolf meat has done little for populations of various wolf subspecies worldwide. Many countries still allow – and even encourage – wolf hunting as a sport, which has only driven the number of wild wolves down even further.
Conservationists are hopeful that they can push for worldwide bans on wolf hunting, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen in the near future.