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Scientists released four timber wolves in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last year to see whether or not the species could be re-established in that relatively wild area. The experiment ended eight months later when the last of the four animals was shot by a deer hunter. One of the others had been hit by an automobile, another had been snared in a coyote trap and eventually killed, the third had been shot.
Although there had been local objection to the experiment, the scientists insisted that the wolves were not a menace to human beings (indeed, wolves go out of their way to avoid man) and were not a threat to deer herds. The Michigan wolves—who were "watched" by radio-beam tracking collars—killed three deer, but the three were tired, physically depleted animals. This verified earlier findings that wolves prey on the sick and the old and the very young, rather than the vigorous, healthy animals that hunters prize. In the long run, wolves tend to strengthen the quality of the herds.
The scientists indicated it was unlikely the experiment would be repeated in view of the hostile attitude displayed toward the wolves. There were too many people around and the animals were too close to them for things to work out.
About the same time that corn appears on roadside stands, football odds crop up in the Nevada sports books. Here are some late-summer specials on the upcoming conference races in the National Football League:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
Before you rush over to bet your neighbor a six-pack on the Rams you should keep in mind that the prices the odds-makers set are not so much a product of football knowledge as a reaction to the prejudice of bettors. The Rams are favorites in the NFC mostly because there is a lot of Los Angeles money in Nevada (not to mention San Francisco money, or didn't you notice those optimistic odds on the 49ers?). L.A. loves the Rams, always expects them to make it to the Super Bowl and is astonished when they don't, which means the city is perpetually astonished. As for the AFC, well, there isn't much Oakland money in Nevada (there isn't much Oakland money in Oakland), and the Super Bowl Steelers are the choice over the powerful Raiders because bettors go for the chalk, the defending champ, the newest unbeatable dynasty.
Aside from the feeling that any genius who bets on New Orleans and wins deserves a lot better payoff than 50 to 1, the worst bargains for bettors (along with that San Francisco price) seem to be the 4-to-1 odds on Dallas and Denver. The still-shaky Cowboys are going through a sort of instant rebuilding after last season's egg in the face, and improving Denver isn't that good yet. On the other hand, the rejuvenated Bears might be worth a little flyer at 25 to 1, and the odds on the Bills, the Jets and the Patriots are tempting for those who feel that the zonked-out Dolphins are ready to be replaced as a conference power.