For centuries, wolves have been demonized in legend and fiction, despite being so closely related to our beloved dogs. Amidst the controversies surrounding releasing wolves back into the wild in the west, the Dutchers set out to document the social lives of wolves, living closely and for several years with a pack in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. In The Hidden Life of Wolves, they reveal the wolf as an intelligent, highly social animal capable of displaying emotion much like our own pets. Wolf packs in nature have a social order of dominance, from the alpha male and female down to the omega, or lowest wolf on the social scale. The alphas are the only ones to mate, and the entire pack is involved in feeding and babysitting the indulged pups, allowing them to climb, nip and wrestle. Although the omega is the least dominant, his role is to initiate play and alleviate tension in the pack. In the Sawtooth pack, a mid-level wolf often came to the aid of the omega, protecting him from the others and playing with him. The pack demonstrated a sense of mourning when one of their members was killed by a mountain lion–the wolves revisited the site of the killing and quietly roamed the area for many weeks. The authors discuss many instances of social behavior among the pack that discount the stories of the vicious killing machine described in fairy tales.
This book is filled with spectacular photos and gives us a new understanding of the complex lives of these amazing animals. The authors also discuss the controversies around hunting and ranching in the areas where wolves are present, and discuss the benefits of the presence of wolves to the environment. The wolf is an amazing animal that deserves our respect and protection, and the insights offered into their lives by this book will hopefully inspire more protection of these spectacular animals.