The Redemption of Wolf 302: From Renegade to Yellowstone Alpha Male
Rick McIntyre | Greystone Books (Vancouver, 2021)
$34.95 | 288pp.
We live in one of the first moments of our history in which human beings are not intimately involved with other species.
It is not at all unusual for modern humans, living in towers and travelling on concrete, eating from supermarkets, Styrofoam and fast-food joints, to go long periods without noticing anything both alive and non-human beyond the occasional pet, songbird or squirrel.
We have learned to call this horrible solitude progress.
And yet, for most of human history we have been fascinated with animals, especially top predators like wolves. In some cultures, we have told sacred stories about them as our ancestors and the founders of our clans. Later, they appear, often ominously, as figures in folk tales and phrases like “the wolf at the door.”
Our fascination with wolves now has a more secular aspect and appears most often in wildlife documentaries. We turn now for our version of wolves to figures like David Suzuki and David Attenborough and, more recently, to the wonderful books of naturalist/observer Rick McIntyre.
McIntyre, a wolf researcher and retired park ranger, has spent much of his adult life in careful, affectionate study of wolves, especially the packs that have flourished across Yellowstone National Park since the species was reintroduced to the park in 1995. He has, he calculates, recorded more than 100,000 wolf sightings during his career.
The current addition to his body of work, The Redemption of Wolf 302, follows two earlier studies, The Rise of Wolf 8 and The Reign of Wolf 21. At least one more book in the series, a study of the role of alpha female wolves in Yellowstone, will appear soon.
In the meantime, we have The Redemption of Wolf 302, and that will be good news for many readers.
In the 1970s, American philosopher Thomas Nagel published an influential essay called “What is it like to be a bat?” McIntyre’s series of books can be viewed as an attempt to answer the question “what is it like to be a wolf?”
Closely observed and meticulously described, the author’s wolves are presented as flawed but essentially heroic creatures who love their pups, defend their territories and engage in mortal combat with members of other packs as well as enormous prey animals like elk. All of this is engaging and entertaining, although the author’s fond anthropomorphism is sometimes only partially persuasive.
Tom Sandborn lives and writes in Vancouver. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at email@example.com
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