Britain's Wolfman hopes to give wolves a voice

Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:02pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Known as the Wolfman after living with packs of wolves, Shaun Ellis is the first to admit his controversial research is shunned by academic circles, but he remains undeterred from his message of conservation.

Like Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin or Timothy "Grizzly Man" Treadwell, both of whom were killed by animals they worked to protect, Ellis lives closely with his subjects, ingratiating himself with wolf packs to live, eat, and sleep with them.

Ellis said for centuries wolves have been viewed as evil, a perception he wanted to change. He also wants to find ways to humanely manage wolf populations overlapping human worlds, rather than shooting the animals.

He has already been the subject of several documentaries including "Living With The Wolfman," and hopes a new memoir out this month, "The Man Who Lives With Wolves," on top of two previous books he has written about wolves, will help his cause.

Ellis, who is based at Combe Martin Wildlife Park in North Devon, England, where he works with 17 wolves and runs WolfPack Management, spoke to Reuters about his book and his work:

Q: Have you always had this interest in wolves?

A: "Like any young boy, I had been brought up with the fear of wolves but during my first encounter at a wildlife park I felt a kindred spirit with them rather than fear. I was about 14 or 15 at the time. There was something about the animal that did not seem to justify the bad reputation that it had."

Q: You were a gamekeeper and in the Royal Marines before you started working with wolves in 1990. How did the shift happen?   Continued...