have a/the wolf by the ear(s)

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have a/the wolf by the ear(s)

To be in a difficult situation from which it is as dangerous to extricate oneself as it is to remain in it. I'm afraid we have a wolf by the ears regarding our current healthcare system. It would be unthinkable to completely overhaul it, but it is dangerously untenable in its current condition. The authoritarian regime has the wolf by the ear with the way it treats the population.
See also: have, wolf