Useful or Removed

Illustration: Canis Lupus Coexistence by Jeanne M. Dodds, Watercolor, colored pencil, acrylic paint, paper collage; digital illustration, December 2021

Once living in harmony, alongside one another.

Humans and wolves together—coexisted. 

But then came ships, and an exploitative view of nature.

Wolves were then feared, hated.

Native peoples exterminated.

And wolves, extirpated.

Snatched land, snatched rights, disrupted balances,

Settled on now, their land, along with their animals.


Livestock, property, merchandise—claimed as their own.

No regard for their individual lives, just milk, meat, and bones. 

Cattle stocked, tagged, and numbered: defiled. 

On the other hand, a pack of wolves, untamed and wild.

They maintain the integrity of a landscape,

a healthy balanced ecosystem they create and shape.

Opportunistic and intelligent, sometimes prey on cattle,

only for their pack’s survival.

Causing financial losses, making them the target,

humankind’s rival.

“Destructive to useful animals owned by settlers”,

plan and plot to ‘remove’—kill all carnivores and predators.

Neck snares, bait traps, night hunting,

gunned down from helicopters.

Wolves are not just hunted 

they’re slaughtered.

– Deepika Nandan

About this work:

Deepika Nandan and Jeanne Dodds have each written a descriptive ekphrastic poem in response to one another’s artworks. The guiding concepts linking both works of art and writing are the parallels between conflict and coexistence models across two unique species and locations. Deepika’s visual work describes aspects of her research around the Asian elephant, while Jeanne’s work is informed by and critiques policies of grey wolf conservation in the United States. This was part of a year-long collaboration as participants in the Creature Conserve Mentorship program, which is designed to provide a support system for artists, creative writers, and scientists as they collaborate and explore the human connection to nature, creating new pathways to a healthier world for all creatures

Read the other poem and artwork pair here.

More about the ‘Canis lupus Coexistence’ project: 

There are few other-than-human animals as simultaneously revered and reviled as wolves. As a species, wolves have been subjected to a myriad of identities and moral judgements. This project examines varied positions from which wolves are regarded, in particular to redress the conflict-focused United States model of killing wolves in response to livestock predation by wolves, and instead suggesting a coexistence model using scientifically supported non-lethal deterrents. Works from the Canis Lupus Coexistence project illustrate both the problematic, violent nature of human-wolf conflict, as well as visualize methods to reduce animal harm, in support of a transition from conflict to coexistence with our wild and domestic kin.