Book Recollection: Decade of the Wolf

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  We held the festivities at our house for the Barton side of the family and had a great time although I ate waaaay to much (but why endure the hardships of running if you can’t splurge a little eh).  I can hear it now, “When is this dude going to get those Yellowstone pictures done so we can see all the great wildlife they encountered out there”.  Well, the good news is I think I’ve post processed all of them now – at least the ones I like the best out of the thousands and thousands we took that week.  Now I need to export them out, get them to a manageable size, slap the ol’ copyright on them and start the long tedious upload process.  Soooooo… my apologies, but it is going to a little while longer.  In the meantime I wanted to bring you a book recollection about Yellowstone.  In particular, this recollection is from a book I picked up at the Old Faithful Visitor Center called the Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone.  I had just signed up to become a member of the Yellowstone Association and was looking for something to apply my resulting gift discount on.  This book by Douglas W. Smith and Gary Ferguson caught my eye.  I really didn’t know much about the background of the reintroduction and decided this might be a good way to gain some knowledge.

Admittedly, I had a little buyer’s remorse when I took a closer look and found out the book was actually written 6 years ago.  I was hoping for something a little more recent which would provide some more updated information on the current packs.  I eventually convinced myself that the reintroduction was a point in time so the historic viewpoint would still be a worthwhile read.  Let’s just say those early doubts were quickly put aside as I became thoroughly engrossed in this book.  The author was involved with the reintroduction from the start and provided a captivating narrative from the initial wolf captures in Canada, through the acclamation process and then proceeded to immerse the reader in the surprisingly rough life of the early Yellowstone wolves.  Having just experienced wolf sightings in the park, it made me feel that much closer to them – seeing them through the camera glass was one thrill, but now understanding what they have been through and the struggles they endure as a species just makes it that more special.  I was actually surprised at the number of wolf on wolf skirmished that occur with a few of the packs doing significant damage to their perceived rivals.  The packs were rocked by disease (parvo and distemper), struggled through territory battles, attack prey at great risk to survival and live with the constant threat of man’s aggression outside the park – and yet thrive in their reintroduced surroundings.  They are truly a majestic animal that clearly represent an Apex Carnivore.  They are still no match for a grizzly, but on the range they reign supreme.

I highly recommend this read for anyone with an interest in wolves, desire some information on successful and disappointing events in the reintroduction process as well as any skeptics to why this was the right thing to do.  I am sick and tired of reading about people’s ignorance and bias against this animal and hopefully more people can get their facts straight before demonizing the reintroduction process.  It was disappointing to find out my Church is to blame for the early “evil” opinions formed about the wolf but hopefully we can all come together and cast that wrongly applied stigma aside.  It is a fairly quick read with many pictures and specific wolf accounts.  It is doubtful you will be able to remember all the wolf numbers (each wolf is given a number) especially when the packs start intermingling.  But don’t let this get in the way of your reading – just try to put yourself in the wolf’s particular situation and admire its ability to handle hardships, adapt to their surroundings, lead their families and more importantly … survive.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that I have an affinity to the wolf, but aren’t those traits also at the core of humanity?  My thanks to Doug and Gary for their fine effort.

Hit the jump to see the takeaways .. and our Yellowstone Association gift!

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