Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Hidden Life of Wolves by Jim and Jamie Dutcher

In [this book], wildlife filmmakers Jim and Jamie Dutcher present an untold story as intriguing and unique as the animal it profiles, sharing a panorama of human attitudes about wolves, from myths of ancient times to misconceptions of today to the new understanding they advocate. With their extraordinary photography of the Sawtooth Pack, personal observations, and thoughtful analysis, they present an engaging story of their experiences living among wolves.

Detailing the emotional and social lives of the Sawtooth Pack, the Dutchers recount wolf behavior rarely documented: grief at the death of a pack mate; exuberant play and friendships; excitement over the birth of pups; and the shared role of raising young pack members, teaching them needed skills.

In the larger picture, they describe the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and the cascade of positive results that followed. The return of wolves has helped revitalize the park's ecosystem, influencing elk, birds of prey, pronghorn, aspen trees, and even trout.

But the demonization of wolves continues as they struggle to reestablish their foothold in the American West. Ranchers, hunters, and biologists work to adapt to innovative solutions that encourage coexistence and reduce conflict. Providing vital information that can change misguided perceptions, The Hidden Life of Wolves opens a fascinating window into the unseen lives of wolves by two people who lived in their midst.

There's really nothing I can say about this book except FIND YOURSELF A COPY. Seriously. I've been recommending it to pretty much everyone I know. It's gorgeous, and full of very interesting/important information. The text isn't all "wolves are awesome!", which tells me the authors really did do as much research as they claim to have done. The facts are presented well, the good with the bad, the challenges, the disappointments. And if you already have a soft spot for wolves, then you'll want to not only find a copy to read, but most likely want to buy a copy to keep. I know I'm toying with that idea myself; if nothing else, I'm hoping to get a copy for my library branch (we only have one in our library system at this time).

There's a plethora of amazing pictures, and quotes from several different sources help illustrate the authors' point about the necessity of wolves to the environment. My favorite was this quote by Aldo Leopold, from A Sand County Almanac:

"We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then and have known ever since that there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean a hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."

Highest regards for the authors, their book, and anyone who seeks it out.

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