The whole wolf debate was not much on my radar until I read this book which I bought for my son–not for me–and devoured in a few days. Who knew that O-Six,
21, 755, 744, and other wolves could feel like characters in a novel? I found myself ready
for bed at 9 pm so I could read more about these controversial creatures who have thousands of followers cheering for their survival and thousands of hunters and herders applauding their deaths. The way Nate Blakeslee describes the wolves as well as the park rangers and naturalists who love them, track them, and report on them makes them nearly human: some show empathy for the runt of the litter, some fight for attention from the alpha male, some are weaklings, some are friendly but cautious, some flaunt their strength, some seem shy. Each Yellowstone wolf has a name or number and a personality–and the watchers get to know them like their own children.
But the reintroduction and protected status of wolves in the Rockies has been fraught with controversy. Cattle ranchers lose livestock, hunters compete with wolves for elk, and other hunters want a wolf trophy on their walls. I don’t claim to fully understand either side—and the book is definitely biased toward the conservationists who have reintroduced wolves—but I find the issues and the wolves themselves fascinating.
With 20 pages of endnotes, the book is well-researched, and I found the story–indeed it reads like a novel—enchanting. I highly recommend it to the outdoor crowd, especially those who love Yellowstone and the Tetons.