Who hired Farley Mowat? What did they want him to do?  

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You refer to the book Never Cry Wolf, written by naturalist Farley Mowat. In 1948-49, Mowat was sent by the Dominion Wildlife Service (renamed the Canadian Wildlife Service in 1950) to investigate the cause of declining caribou populations in the area of northern Manitoba, Canada. The authorities believed that wolves were the reason the caribou numbers had gone down, and wanted to give hunters authority to kill more wolves. What Farley wrote, however, was that not only were the wolves mainly subsisting on much smaller animals such as mice and hares, but that they would choose to eat the small mammals even when caribou was an option. When the wolves did kill a caribou it was generally an older, weaker animal that would probably have died soon, and that the wolves did not have to expend much energy to catch. The caribou were also not being killed in large numbers by the First Nations peoples, which was another possibility the authorities believed could be true. Instead, Mowat found that the caribou were being killed in excessive numbers by the "civilized" hunters. This was not a popular view, and the understanding of the complexity of ecosystems was not as strong as it is today. The government seemed to be looking for an "OK" to kill as many wolves as possible; Mowat instead gave them a different picture, which was that the wolves were an integral part of the ecosystem, and certainly not responsible for the low numbers of caribou. He was accused of making up parts of his book, and admitted to embellishing the amount of time he actually spent with the wolves.

 

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