On The Page: Wolves in the Land of Salmon

I picked up David Moskowitz’s Wolves in the Land of Salmon at the library. As a little kid, wolves were my favorite animal and I couldn’t read or learn enough about them and their habits. I was ten in 1995 when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone and was so excited about wolves being reintroduced to the American West. My passion for wolves as an essential part of the landscape hasn’t faded (I follow the controversy over wolf-human conflicts and cheer on OR-7 as he travels around Oregon) so I was excited to read the book.

Wolves In The Land of Salmon

First off, this book is beautiful. Moskowitz also took the photographs for the book and the beautiful shots are scattered liberally throughout the book. Maps are used judiciously throughout the book to illustrate just where wolves can be found today and where they were found in the past. The photos of wolves vary from absolutely sweet pups to the chilling stare of an adult. Photographs of the landscapes in which wolves can be found also add to the book.

Washington wolf map

Moskowitz put a ton of research into this book, as the twenty page bibliography shows, but does an excellent job of relaying the information to the lay reader. The book’s text is also aided by the amount of time that Moskowitz himself spends outdoors tracking wolves. Grouped into chapters about each of the Northwest regions where wolves can be found (North Cascades, Vancouver Island, Inland Northwest) and chapters about specific wolf qualities (social behavior, hunting & eating, wolf-human relationship) this is a very readable book.

My favorite part was the last chapter discussing how wolves might return to the Olympic Peninsula. The last confirmed wolf killed in Washington state happened on the west side of the Olympics in the 1920s with credible sightings through the 1930s. However, because of the Peninsula’s isolation it is unlikely that wolves will disperse to this area and will probably require human reintroduction to this high quality wolf habitat. What I didn’t know was that the Olympic Marmot, an endemic species, is struggling due to coyote predation and that some scientists think that reintroducing wolves might help reverse population loss.

If you like nature writing, check out Wolves in the Land of Salmon (this is one I would recommend not getting on your Kindle, the book is too pretty in old school form). It’s an excellent portrait of wolves in the Northwest. It is certainly skewed towards support for wolves but I’m skewed that way too so it didn’t bother me in the least. It is more than a regurgitation of facts already in the news and I learned a lot.

The Call of The Wild

Friday the front page news here in the Valley was that wolves had attacked and killed a dog in Burke.

WALLACE — Domestic dogs were attacked by four wolves around 6 p.m. Wednesday night on the 600 block of Burke Road, just outside of Wallace.

One dog died and another sustained a facial bite, said Shoshone County Sheriff Mitch Alexander, and there were many wolf tracks in the area.

Idaho Fish and Game notified residents in the area and informed them that it is legal to shoot the wolf pack.

Mullan resident Barry Sadler didn’t just have his dogs attacked by wolves a few years ago — they chased his daughter into the front door and came right up on his porch.

“They just can’t coexist with people,” he said. “It’s impossible … as long as they run wild, they’ll continue to kill everything until there’s nothing left.”

Sadler shot and killed one of the offending wolves. His wife, who was inside at the time watching out the window, said that while he was lying on his stomach shooting, one was watching him from about 25 feet away.

He said wolves just chew animals up a lot of the time without eating them, and called them “treacherous and filthy.” The percentage of what they kill versus what they eat is less than 10 percent, Sadler said.

Regarding Wednesday’s attack, he said people don’t realize that wolves would rather eat dogs than any other animal.

“They hate each other,” he said. “They’ll kill dogs any chance they get.”

And his dogs have killed wolves themselves — they’ll come up to the porch covered in blood, he said.

Sadler said he’s not a hunter, and at first, the thought of hunting wolves made him sad because they reminded him of dogs. But then he saw what they’re capable of.

“I know God doesn’t make mistakes,” he said, “but I tell you what — the fly, the mosquito and the wolf … I don’t know what He was thinking when He made those three.”

Calls made to Idaho Fish and Game official Josh Stanley about the attack weren’t immediately returned.

Kelsey Saintz, Shoshone News Press, January 13, 2012

At 4:28pm last night Spokane news station KHQ posted news was that there was another wolf attack on a chained dog in the same area. By 5:20pm they had revised the report to state it was “wild dogs.” Apparently Idaho Fish and Game had showed up and said there were lots of tracks in the area but no wolf tracks.

Saturday morning the front page had a correction: no wolves were involved in either attack. Continue reading “The Call of The Wild”