A Sentience Article from All-Creatures.org

Wolves and Cows: The Mindset of Coexistence and Sentience

From Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today / Animal Emotions
January 2024

The well-being of both wolves and cows deserves careful consideration. 

[The post was co-written by Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., and Marlon H. Reis, First Gentleman of Colorado.]

wild Wolf
Wolf 2306-OR shortly after release in Colorado on December 19, 2023. Source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Public Domain

Moving animals from one place to another, called “reintroductions” or “repatriation” projects, raises numerous questions about the true meaning of human-animal relationships and the words “coexistence” and “sentience.” Recently, Colorado was blessed with 10 wolves who were moved from Oregon to remote areas of our state, with very mixed opinions voiced by Colorado residents and media.

Reactions ranged from excellent to downright shoddy and highly sensationalist and misleading, mainly from people who might be directly affected by the wolves. In fact, an article in The Denver Gazette reports, "According to voter data from Proposition 114, 127,719 Colorado residents on the Western slope voted 'yes' to reintroduce wolves. More than twice the winning margin came from Western Colorado."

What does “coexistence” mean?

There are many shades of meaning for the word “coexistence” and, surely, the wolves themselves along with grizzly bears and cougars would offer different definitions than would many humans. The simplest definition of “coexistence” would be living in the same place at the same time or most of the time. The key factor would be that different living individuals are sharing the same place and able to work things out so that it’s done harmoniously. This would be what we call “pure” or “true” coexistence.

Organizations that claim to work for coexistence offer a very different picture. For example, Wildlife Services, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, claims to work for the coexistence of people and wildlife, but, to achieve their distinctly distorted notion of coexistence, they kill more than 2 million animals every year, mostly on public lands at a cost to taxpayers of more than $100 million per year. Their victims included 384,300 native animals in 2022 along with individuals of some endangered species and occasionally companion dogs.


  • It’s essential to understand the different mindsets behind, and psychology of, coexistence.
  • The well-being of both wolves and cows deserves careful consideration.
  • People often blame wolves for the very acts in which they themselves engage every day.


Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE.

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