Yellowstone, Rewilding & 06

The American west has told the rewilding story from multiple perspectives, and this book to the right makes a special place for the she-wolf in that story, according to this review in Inquisitive Biologist:

The wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 are some of the best-studied mammals on the planet. Biological technician and park ranger Rick McIntyre has spent over two decades scrutinizing their daily lives, venturing into the park every single day. Where his previous books focused on three notable alpha* males, it is ultimately the females that call the shots and make the decisions with lasting consequences. This book is a long overdue recognition of the female wolf and continues this multigenerational saga.

If wolf 21, the subject of the second book, was the most famous male wolf in Yellowstone, then his granddaughter 06 (named after her year of birth, 2006) can safely be called the most famous female wolf. This fourth book picks up where the third book ended, covering the period 2009–2015. It tells 06’s life story, her untimely death, and the fate of one of her daughters. To refreshen your mind, some prefatory sections give a brief list of notable matriarchs through the years and a short history of the Druid Peak pack, which were the ancestors of 06.

The fact that wolves have unique characters is again confirmed here: 06 is a gorgeous wolf that has many suitors but, until age four, she rejects them all and is a rare example of a lone female wolf. Lone wolves, quite rare to begin with, are usually males in search of a new pack with unrelated females. In 2010 she forms the Lamar Canyon pack with two brothers younger than her: 754 and 755. Three successful years follow in which she has a litter of pups every year. Through a combination of fearlessness and wise choices, all pups survive their first year. A particular challenge is the nearby Mollie’s pack, led by an aggressive female, that starts making incursions into 06’s territory. There is a long-running feud between the Mollie’s and the very successful Druid Peak pack and its descendants, which can be traced back to 1996 when Druids killed several wolves of Mollie’s pack.

This book has the task of both continuing the story but also looking back. Several chapters end with boxes that briefly tell the story of other notable female wolves past and present. If you have read all or some of the previous trilogy, you know that the writing might not win prizes for its style. Instead, McIntyre distills thousands of days spent in the field and as many pages of notes into a deeply informed, unembellished eyewitness account of the daily lives of these wolves. He always clearly indicates where he reconstructs likely events not observed first-hand or imagines the inner lives of the wolves. As before, The Alpha Female Wolf is divided into parts that each cover a year, usually subdivided into several chapters. This time there are unfortunately no family trees included, which I would have found helpful, though the cast of characters remains manageable.

Read the whole review here.

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