Long considered an icon of the wild, wolves capture our imagination and spark controversy. Humans are the adult wolf’s only true natural predator; its return to the old-growth forests and wild coastlines of the Pacific Northwest renews age-old questions about the value of wildlands and wildlife.
As the vivid stories unfold in this riveting and timely book, wolves emerge as smart, complex players uniquely adapted to the vast interdependent ecosystem of this stunning region. Observing them at close range, David Moskowitz explores how they live, hunt, and communicate, tracing their biology and ecology through firsthand encounters in the wildlands of the Northwest. In the process he challenges assumptions about their role and the impact of even well-meaning human interventions.
|Publisher:||Timber Press, Incorporated|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
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About the Author
David Moskowitz is a professional wildlife tracker, photographer, and outdoor educator. He has tracked, documented, and photographed wolves in the wild in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, and southern Alberta, studying den and rendezvous sites. He helped establish and co-manages the Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, teaches wildlife tracking programs internationally, and has led wolf-tracking expeditions in Washington, Idaho, and Wisconsin. As an evaluator for Cybertracker Conservation, he provides certification of wildlife tracking skills as part of efforts to increase observer reliability and the use of tracking in research and conservation initiatives across North America.
Read an Excerpt
When I was twelve, about a week before my school science project was due, my mother discovered that I had decided to forgo carrying out the experiment which was the basis of my project. Instead I fabricated the data and results. The project was about probability. The experiment required the use of a quincunx, a device that involves dropping marbles down a uniform pattern of pegs starting at the apex of a two-dimensional pyramid. Theoretically, most of the marbles should land toward the center of the base of the quincunx, with progressively fewer toward the edges, forming a bell curve, a common pattern of mathematical distribution in many natural systems.
Being twelve, I figured that since many folks had done this before, why should I go through the trouble of repeating the experiment? I could take their design and results. I wrote up all the components of the virtual experiment and made graphs that showed my marbles landing in an exact bell curve with the greatest number in the center and progressively fewer as you moved away from it on either side evenly until barely any landed on the edges. Unaware that anyone might object to this, I mentioned it when my mother asked about the project a week before it was due. My mother, a medical doctor and university professor actively engaged in a variety of research projects, was absolutely horrified that her son was on the verge of completely fabricating the results of the first scientific endeavor of his life. Thankfully, she took the opportunity to introduce me to a world of inquiry that has greatly influenced my passions and curiosities ever since.
A week later, after the actual construction of a quincunx and many boring hours of dropping hundreds of marbles into it and recording the results (aided by my eternally patient grandmother), my initiation into scientific investigation had begun. My results, which became graphs and discussion points for my poster, showed that, while the preponderance of my marbles did fall toward the center, they did not produce a perfect bell curve. Variations between one side and the other existed; some slots farther from the center had more landings than others closer to the center. My results supported the general pattern while also demonstrating that reality seldom matches theory exactly. My project went on to be selected for the county science project contest, and I learned a valuable lesson about how the world works.
Since this early experience, as both a naturalist and an engaged citizen in a democracy, I’ve always considered it prudent to educate myself and critically analyze both the natural and social world around me. This includes going out and seeing things for myself before making my mind up about how I believe things work and the appropriate ways to proceed. It is in this spirit that I’ve built this book around stories from the field and around my attempts to unravel the complex, sometimes counterintuitive, and almost always politically charged story of the relationship between the wolves, wildlands, and humans of the Pacific Northwest.
Canis lupus, the largest member of the canid family in the world, has an impressive evolutionary track record and an exceptional history of influence on human cultures across the northern hemisphere, where the two species’ ranges have overlapped for millennia. Weighing in at an average of about ninety pounds for males and eighty pounds for females in the Pacific Northwest, adult wolves stand waist high to the average person, a substantial physical presence. Their intelligence, highly social nature, and adaptable behavior have further contributed to our fascination with the animals whose howls echo with haunting beauty through the wild landscapes they inhabit and through the myths and stories of human cultures around the globe.
Amazingly, despite their relatively large amounts of press here in recent years, wolves are living in the region in quite limited numbers. In Idaho fewer than nine hundred animals were reported in 2009, their peak census in that state. To keep the species from being relisted as endangered, Idaho has to maintain a minimum of only one hundred wolves. As of the summer of 2011, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) estimated Washington’s wolf population at about thirty; Oregon estimated a similar number as of December 2011. As the benchmark for removing wolves from their state endangered species lists, both Oregon and Washington use breeding pairs, a term legally defined as a male and female wolf and at least two offspring which survive to the end of a given year. Translating this into an estimated total number of wolves, the state recovery and management plans in Oregon allow the delisting process to begin once the state has seven breeding pairs, or an estimated census of as few as about seventy wolves in the state. In Washington fifteen breeding pairs, about 210 wolves, would be required for complete delisting from the state endangered species list. Meanwhile the actual numbers of wolves will fluctuate widely at the whims of hunting and management plans for states and provinces in the region. In Idaho’s 2011–2012 wolf-hunting season, hunters and trappers took more than 375 wolves, more than half the estimated population of 746 for the entire state, as the state attempted to reduce wolves to closer to the minimum numbers required to keep the animal off the federal endangered species list.
How did people, wolves, and wildlands get to this juncture? The long history of relationships among the characters in this story begins about thirteen thousand years ago with the retreat of the last period of continental glaciation. We often think of contemporary events from the perspective of human politics. But focusing instead on the ecological and evolutionary relationships between humans and other species—Homo sapiens and Canis lupus, for example—and on their relationships with their surroundings can shed some much-needed light on these groups and on the inner workings of natural systems as well.
While the return of wolves to the east in the Rockies has been in the news for decades, wolves are just now getting their moment in the spotlight in the Pacific Northwest. The story here will be a different one, though. In a geographic landscape as defined by the ocean as the Pacific Northwest is, even a terrestrial species such as the wolf can’t help but be influenced. Similarly the unique human cultural landscape of the Pacific Northwest is shaping the way that residents of the region think and feel about the return of this compelling species.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wolves in the Land of Salmon by David Moskowitz Let me start out by saying wolves are my favorite animal. In addition, the Pacific Northwest is one of my favorite places. Needless to say this book was a good fit for me. That being said, I know a lot about both topics. Despite that I learned a lot of new facts. David Moskowitz did a wonderful job with this book. It is very well written and packed with a wealth of Information. The photography is beautiful and graphically the layout was well done. I read the digital version of this book but it would make an excellent coffee table book. I highly recommend this book for anyone with a love for wolves and the Pacific Northwest. ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.