From the world-famous couple who lived alongside a three-generation wolf pack, this book of inspiration, drawn from the wild, will fascinate animal and nature lovers alike. For six years Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived intimately with a pack of wolves, gaining their trust as no one has before. In this book the Dutchers reflect on the virtues they observed in wolf society and behavior. Each chapter exemplifies a principle, such as kindness, teamwork, playfulness, respect, curiosity, and compassion. Their heartfelt stories combine into a thought-provoking meditation on the values shared between the human and the animal world. Occasional photographs bring the wolves and their behaviors into absorbing focus.
The Wisdom of Wolves Review
- January 1, 1970MaxineThere had been a debate raging in the US starting in the 1970s about reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone and other national parks. Historically, wolves have been one of the most vilified animals on the planet, a dangerous even evil predator. How often, for example, are mass murderers called ‘lone wolves’? It was a universally accepted ‘fact’ that wolves needed to be completely eliminated. And, in the US they almost were. But after they were gone, elk herds expanded out of control. The debate w There had been a debate raging in the US starting in the 1970s about reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone and other national parks. Historically, wolves have been one of the most vilified animals on the planet, a dangerous even evil predator. How often, for example, are mass murderers called ‘lone wolves’? It was a universally accepted ‘fact’ that wolves needed to be completely eliminated. And, in the US they almost were. But after they were gone, elk herds expanded out of control. The debate was finally settled in the 1990s in favour of reintroduction although the decision was and continues to be vehemently opposed by ranchers and hunters.Before the start of the program, Jim Dutcher was given permission to do a documentary about wolves in Yellowstone. To truly understand the animal, he felt he had to live in proximity with them. Wolf cubs were brought in from Canada and raised by Jim and his team until they were old enough to live on their own. To ensure the safety of the wolves, a fence was erected and Jim and his team provided food for them to keep the pack from wandering. Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived with the Sawtooth pack for six year, watching and recording their behaviour.Over the years, they gained the trust of the pack and what they observed looked nothing like the vicious animal of legend. Instead what they saw were distinct individuals but who formed a familial bond, who displayed ‘kindness, teamwork, playfulness, respect, curiosity, and compassion’. In The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack, Jim and Jamie discuss these virtues.I have no doubt that some would say that, in The Wisdom of Wolves, the Dutchers have anthropomorphized the wolves, attributing to them human characteristics and behaviour that aren’t really there or that, by keeping them in a safe place they changed the normal behaviour. But, throughout the book, the Dutchers give examples of similar behaviour from packs other observers have documented in the wild and from a distance.The Dutchers provide a fascinating view of the behaviours of wolves that makes it clear that, not only are they similar to humans in many surprising ways but that we could learn a great deal from them. By the end, I felt I knew and cared very deeply for the fate of the pack. They also show how important wolves are to the ecosystem. For anyone who believes that nature is a system of interconnected species and that the loss of even one group has a domino effect on the rest or, for that matter, just wants to know more about this beautiful animal, I can’t recommend The Wisdom of Wolves highly enough.Thanks to Edelweiss and National Geographic for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest reviewmore
- January 1, 1970SherylI had a difficult time deciding how to review this book. Parts of it were really good but I had a difficult time with the premise and that kept me from loving this book. In this review I will explain what I liked about the book and what problems I had and anyone who read the review can decide for themselves which side of the fence they fall on. Do the pros outweigh the cons? I’m still not sure. (Hence the middle of the road, 3-star rating)This book provides a lot of insight into wolves— how they I had a difficult time deciding how to review this book. Parts of it were really good but I had a difficult time with the premise and that kept me from loving this book. In this review I will explain what I liked about the book and what problems I had and anyone who read the review can decide for themselves which side of the fence they fall on. Do the pros outweigh the cons? I’m still not sure. (Hence the middle of the road, 3-star rating)This book provides a lot of insight into wolves— how they live their lives and relate to one another— and how much we humans have in common with them. There are lots of specific examples of how wolves exhibit curiousity, empathy, compassion and intelligence. These examples are not just from the Sawtooth Pack but also from other packs living in the wild in Yellowstone, Denali and elsewhere. The Dutchers share stories of other wolf packs that they learn from other researchers in these regions. I also learned lots of little interesting facts about wolves that I didn’t know before. For example, I did not know that wolves only live an average 10 years. There was some information regarding anti-wolf movements and behaviors. I wish they had spent a little more time on that, as I was appalled by how many wolves are killed by people and the general hatred they have towards wolves. However, I understand that wasn’t the purpose of the book. But rather it was to show people how similar humans and wolves are, how rich the life of a wolf is, and how much we can learn from them. I just wish they had found a different way to gather that information; if they had, I probably would have enjoyed this book much more.In an effort to gain enough trust to get close enough to film the wolves, the Dutchers created a wolf pack which they could live near. They started by hand-raising a little of 3 pups, after which time they added another litter of 3 pups (which they also hand-raised). This was followed by another litter of 3 pups. With each addition of pups, they hand-raised them just long enough to gain their trust and then released them into a large fenced in area (about 25 acres) in the Sawtooth Mountains. And so their Pack was created. A fourth litter of 3 pups was born to the Sawtooth Pack. They did not treat the wolves as pets and, after the hand-raising period, only interacted with them when instigated by the wolves themselves. They did, however, provide food for them (road kill animals). One of my big issues is that it is never quite clear where these litters of pup came from. There is brief mention of a rescue center at the beginning of the book in reference to two adult wolves that they had hoped to include in the Pack, but they quickly learned that the adults would not be good for what they wanted because they could never fully earn their complete trust. That was when the Dutchers realized they needed to start with pups that they hand-raised. But where did these pups come from? They got 3 litters of pups over the course of a year or two. Were these pups orphaned or taken from their parents? It bothered me immensely that they might have been taken from their parents, especially since the Dutchers, time and again, wrote about how close wolf families are and how wolf packs are often several generations living together. They told us that wolves mourn the loss of pack members. If this is the case, how could they justify removing pups from their parents in order to study them? Another thing that bothered me was that they took the litter of pups born to the Sawtooth Pack and hand-raised them in order to gain their trust, as well. They removed these pups from two healthy and attentive parents for several weeks before returning them to their pack. In this book, they repeatedly wrote that pups learn from the other pack members. I’m not an animal biologist or researcher, but couldn’t these new pups learn to trust the Dutchers simply by watching their parents and fellow pack mates interacting with and trusting them? It didn’t seem like it would have been necessary to remove those pups and hand-raise them.Additionally, the Sawtooth Pack was a captive pack. They didn’t have the same constant worry over predators that wild packs have. (With the exception of one incident, predators never bothered them in their enclosure.) They didn’t have to hunt for their food or worry about the scarcity of it. These things made me wonder just how much value was gained by this project (other than some wonderful pictures and video footage), because everything they observed among their pack, they reinforced by sharing stories and observations of wild packs exhibiting the same tendencies. I don’t doubt that the Dutchers loved and cared about the wolves in the Sawtooth Pack and that these wolves had a high quality of life. But, if other researchers could observe these things from wild packs, why then was there a need to create and observe a captive pack?These are some of the thoughts, questions and concerns I had while reading this book. I loved the stories about the wolves and how they interacted with one another, but I loved the similar stories about the wild packs just as much. I loved learning about the social structure of packs and reading about just how much like humans they are (or perhaps we are like them?). There is much to learn from this book but I think I would have enjoyed it more had some of my concerns about the origin of the wolves been answered or if this had actually been a wild pack.more
- January 1, 1970JordanSimply incredible. Full review (+interview on the blog!) to come!
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