Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstoneby Douglas Smith
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In Decade of the Wolf, project leader Douglas W. Smith and acclaimed nature writer Gary Ferguson describe the journey of thirty-one Canadian gray wolves that were released in 1995 and 1996 into Yellowstone National Park and the people who faithfully followed them. The wolves have not only survived but completely changed the ecosystem, spilling a fresh measure of wildness across the world’s first national park.
This updated edition includes additional wolf profiles, newinformation on the effects of climate change and disease, and a retrospective on what the scientists have learned during this extended study of the Yellowstone wolves.
- Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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- NOOK Book
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- 12 MB
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Meet the Author
Douglas Smith, PhD, project leader, has studied wolves for decades and has worked on the reintroduction since its inception.
Gary Ferguson, an award-winning nature writer, has written several books and for publications including Vanity Fair, Outside, and Men’s Journal.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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First, the book is very well written, and Smith has a very nice story-telling style. It reads well and tells a very good story. Second, it is not a scientific or academic piece. It is a history. He does cite several other sources, but more than anything, it is a history from his point of view, telling the story of wolf introduction, specific wolves, and how the packs have evolved since being introduced. Third, it is clearly written from the point of view of someone that is passionate about wolves and Yellowstone, and how all of that interacts. The book is organized with alternating chapters -one chapter telling the overall picture, followed by chapters he calls "Portraits of a wolf," that focus in on "Wolf #97". Both are very interesting. The portraits tell the story of that particular wolf from its capture in Canada or birth in the Park, to introduction, to the role it played in a pack through its life, and ultimately its death. He tells of his personal interactions helping capture each wolf for collaring, or observations from afar. These portraits are really quite compelling and look the wolves as individuals which is certainly interesting. Other chapters telling the bigger picture are nice descriptions about pack development, interaction with one another, how they have adapted to the prey base, their migration in/around/out of YNP which was also quite interesting. He touched briefly on some of the larger assertions such as the trophic cascade the wolves are causing, which was the main reason I wanted to read the book. While he did touch on the concept in general, and some of the changes happening in YNP, I really didn't feel he made a strong case one way or the other, other than the general idea of the concept. But as I read the book, I realized that wasn't the point of the book. It wasn't a scientific report asserting really anything like that. It was simply a history from the point of view of a guy that spends every day dealing with the wolves in and around YNP. My recommendation is that no matter how you view the wolves - good bad or sideways, this is a good read and tells a story worth being told.
I first heard an excerpt from this book while sitting on a log in the first pen into which the wolves were released, in the Slough Creek area of Yellowstone. That was an amazing experience, and perhaps more amazing is that this book never gets old. I've read it probably once a year or more since then. The book executes a difficult task: speak at length about a subject with which the reader might be unfamiliar and thus a little alienated. Juxtaposing the history of the project with the stories of individual wolves breathes life into the description of the project and the vignettes are poignant, sad, and more importantly, demonstrate our need to continue efforts of conservation for these perfect creatures and their ecosystems, and all wild things.