THE ARCTIC WOLF: Living with the Pack by L. David Mech

THE ARCTIC WOLF: Living with the Pack

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The world's leading wolf biologist writes of fulfilling a lifelong dream in this spirited, lavishly illustrated book, an extension of a National Georgraphic article and a tie-in to a forthcoming National Georgraphic/BBC television documentary. For decades, Mech, author of the classic book on wolves (The Wolf, 1970), and known as ""Wolfman"" to his colleagues, yearned to do what no one had ever done: to live with a wolf pack in the wild (forget Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf which Mech insists was a ""delightful tale,"" but ""not true""). The basic problem was to find a den divorced from any other cover that the female wolves could run to with their pups when a human intruded. In July 1986, Mech found that den in the High Arctic tundra and spent nine days with the domiciled pack. Here, he details the long, cold hours spent winning the trust of the seven adults and half-dozen pups; his acute observations of the animals' family unit (""the pups were the center of the pack's universe. The only reason the adults returned to the den each day was to tend the pups""); and a musk-oxen hunt. A year later, Mech returned with a film crew; in the book's high point, he depicts a second musk-oxen hunt, during which the wolves stalk, slay, and rip apart their prey: ""this was pretty strong stuff--the struggling, the bleating, the constant tugging and pulling at the head and face. It's all part of nature, though. . ."" To help save that nature, Mech concludes his work with a soft plea for wolf ecology, a rundown of ""Wolf Organizations,"" and a reading list. Mech's not much of a stylist, but his enthusiasm for his subject and the glory of his unique experience shine through; and then there are the 105 astounding color photos, the first ever taken at close-up ground level of a wolf pack in the wild, making this winsome book a must for wolf--and probably dog--lovers and solid fare for all armchair naturalists.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Voyageur Press (123 North Second St., Stillwater, MN 55082)