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Author Topic: As a wolf (and general animal) lover, I just wanna gush about this book!  (Read 335 times)

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Offline Dragonflitter

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Sorry for the random post today, but I don't have other friends I can gush about animal trivia with. And I'm just so fascinated by this book I got from the library!

The title is "The Rise of Wolf 8" by Rick Mcintyre. It's written by one of the scientists who studied the wolf packs that were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990's. I'm about halfway through it now, and every chapter has such interesting situations!

To set the scene for you, all wolves were wiped out of Yellowstone in the 1920's. Then in the 90's it was decided to reintroduce some wolf packs to the park to try to fix the ecosystem. In the years between, the elk and bison herds in Yellowstone grew to giant sizes and they were really hurting the ecosystem. Certain plants were suffering and almost wiped out in some areas, from overeating.

So a few different packs were introduced, mostly by catching certain wolf packs (or lone wolves) in Canada and bringing them to Yellowstone. The author of the book spent years just walking out into the park and observing them all at a distance. The things he tells us about how wolf society works is just so cool!

The main wolf that the author talks about in the book is, of course, the one called Wolf 8. He became an alpha male at a very young age (like an 18-year-old human) because he found a nearby pack where the alpha male had just been shot and killed by a hunter who had snuck into Yellowstone. (They caught the man and he went to jail but, of course, it was too late for the dead wolf.) Wolf 8 was the runt of his own pack and was picked on growing up, by his three older, larger brothers. So not a big surprise that he left his pack as soon as he could.

When Wolf 8 found the new pack, the female alpha had just given birth to the late alpha's pups. She had been pregnant when he was shot. Wolf 8 befriended her pups and helped raise them with her, just as if he was their father!

The author pointed out that this is rare in the animal kingdom. Many animals, like lions, will wipe out offspring from other males. But wolves will adopt pups that aren't theirs. He theorized that this is one reason why we were able to bond with wolves and how they evolved into dogs over time.

He also talks about other wolf packs in the book, because multiple packs were introduced into Yellowstone Park. One pack they brought from Canada into Yellowstone had a very big, very aggressive alpha male. They named that pack the Druid Pack. In fact, when they transported that pack to Yellowstone and opened the back of the transport truck, the Druid alpha male was standing in the back of the truck staring at them. He had woken up from his tranq and busted out of his cage and was just standing there, in wait for the humans to open the back of the truck hahaha! Very macho guy.

So when they put the Druid Pack into Yellowstone, the alpha moved his pack directly next to Wolf 8's territory. And it wasn't long until he was leading his pack into the other pack's territory, and one time the author witnessed a fight.

Wolf 8 was at the bottom of a hill hanging out with his half-grown pups. The female alpha was off hunting. Druid Alpha led a few of his wolves into the territory and came over the top of the hill and spotted Wolf 8 and the pups. (Are you picturing Anakin and Obi Wan and the "I have the high ground!" scene? Because I am lol.)

The Druid Alpha started running down the hill toward Wolf 8. The author didn't know what would happen, because if Wolf 8 had to run uphill to fight, he would lose a lot of energy and strength getting up there and could likely be killed. Druid Alpha was bigger, older, and more aggressive than Wolf 8, who was a small, young runt. But if Wolf 8 ran away, the pups would probably be killed by the Druid Pack.

To the author's amazement, Wolf 8 ran right up the hill and jumped on the Druid Alpha and fought him and WON. After a short fight, he bit the Druid Alpha hard on the face and then jumped back, and the Alpha got up and then the Druids ran off back to their own territory!

The author theorized that it was specifically because Wolf 8 was a runt, that he was able to win in the fight. He had three brothers that were all bigger than he was, in his old pack. So he had a lot of experience fighting larger opponents. And he fought so hard to protect pups that weren't even his, biologically.

I'm only halfway through the book but all of this is just so interesting. It's like an action movie! I just wanted to tell someone about these amazing things happening out there in the world that most of us never know about.  :biggrin:
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Offline LadyMoondancer

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Re: As a wolf (and general animal) lover, I just wanna gush about this book!
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2019, 04:31:23 PM »
I love wolves and every year I read the Yellowstone wolf updates.  They are such fascinating animals, really the species that is most like us IMO.  They have so much drama!   Thanks for the book recommendation, I'll definitely read it!
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Offline Koudoawaia

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Re: As a wolf (and general animal) lover, I just wanna gush about this book!
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2019, 04:55:34 PM »
Thanks for sharing. That was amazing^^
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Online bright rabbit 1

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Re: As a wolf (and general animal) lover, I just wanna gush about this book!
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2019, 08:45:39 AM »
Wolves, wolves, I love them so.

Thanks for sharing his news.
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Offline brightberry

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Re: As a wolf (and general animal) lover, I just wanna gush about this book!
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2019, 07:36:13 PM »
I love this! Animals are so much more than we give them credit for.

I got equally excited learning that mountain lions share their kills with other mountain lions.  Scientists had always thought they were complete loners but it turns out that's not true at all. 

https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2017/10/11/giving-to-get-reciprocity-among-mountain-lions/

Offline Galactica

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Re: As a wolf (and general animal) lover, I just wanna gush about this book!
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2019, 11:18:55 PM »
So interesting!  Wolves are really cool animals (so are Mountain lions)


Have you guys seen the articles showing that RATS are altruistic and are kind and empathetic towards stranger rats? 

According to a study published in the December 9, 2011, issue of Science, rats can be surprisingly selfless. ... In this experiment, 23 of 30 rats liberated OTHER rats by head butting the cage door or leaning against the door until it tipped over...https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/will-you-rat-me-out/

In a 2015 study-  rats chose the lever to save another rat from drowning over a lever that it knew would give it chocolate-  and they are more likely to help and quicker when they've had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own- showing that they feel empathy...https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/05/rats-forsake-chocolate-save-drowning-companion


Kind of chilling actually since humankind is essentially at war with ratkind... and it's easier to think of wild rats as non-thinking eating machines.  Instead, we learn they are kind and empathetic...

« Last Edit: December 19, 2019, 11:28:24 PM by Galactica »

Offline brightberry

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Re: As a wolf (and general animal) lover, I just wanna gush about this book!
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2019, 07:35:54 AM »
That is so amazing! Way to go rats! I knew they were smart, I didn’t know about that.