“Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species” is a “classic” wolf biology book from 1971.
The book systematically outlines key aspects of wild wolves and their environments: such as their ecological niche, pack structure and population dynamics, physical and mental characteristics, hunting, seasonal movement patterns, key species of prey, and their relations with prey and other stake holders… including humans (and much more).
To find and be accepted by this pack was the highlight of Mech’s career, and he describes through several chapters in the book how he had dreamt of a chance like this through much of his 30 year long career as a wolf researcher and “obsessed student of wolves”. Wolves are rare and extremely wary creatures, so studies of wolves in the wild are typically undertaken indirectly or via observations from small aircraft; and most (especially older) studies of wolf packs’ social behaviour and group dynamics draw conclusions from studies of captive wolf packs composed of brought-together unrelated individuals. Such captive packs differ in fundamental ways from natural wolf packs, which are essentially nuclear families comprising a pair of parents (naturally in charge), and some of their offspring from previous years.
Mech’s dream was to study a litter of wild wolf pups being raised by a wolf pack in the wild. The book documents his dream coming true as he finds the wolf pack on Ellesmere island in the high arctic where humans are so rare and hunting to sporadic that wolves don’t have the same extreme fear and avoidance of humans that wolves do almost everywhere else. Continue reading →