The wolf was my favorite animal growing up. I was obsessed with them as a kid, and frankly as a teenager. I collected little wolf statues, had posters of wolves and begged my dad to make a donation to the Nature Conservancy so I could ‘adopt’ a wolf and get a stuffed animal. When my dad and I weren’t watching baseball or football we were watching nature shows. My favorites were always the ones about the far north: the taiga, the cold, the moose, bear and the wolf. Something about the wolves intrigued me. They are smart, opportunistic, loyal yet independent, and often misunderstood. This edition of camp reads includes some of my favorite books of all time. I hope they will become some of your favorites as well.
Wolves in the Land of Salmon by David Moskowitz
Moskowitz weaves his stories as a wildlife tracker with recent scientific studies to tell the fascinating story of the wolves of the Pacific Northwest. The book takes you on a tour of the current wolf packs in the NW and examines the historic populations in the Olympics and western Oregon. Moskowitz explores the intricate and sometimes contentious connections these wolves have now and had in the past with the local fauna and people. Published in 2013, this book has everything you want to know about the history and current state of wolves in the NW. You can follow Moskowitz’s travels on his blog.
A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans
This is the remarkable true story of a wolf and it’s relationship with a community in Alaska. The residents of Juneau were at first startled to see a large black wolf frequenting their favorite recreational area. But over time this friendly wild animal began to interact with the nearby people and dogs, playfully following them as they cross country skied and cooperating with local photographers. Of course, a situation that involves interaction between people and wild animals cannot be without controversy. Nick Jans chronicles the life of Romeo as he observed it from his back yard and the reactions, good and bad, of the residents and authorities, bringing to light tough questions about conservation and living with predators.
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
This might be my favorite book of all time, or at least in my top five. All of the prolific Canadian author’s stories are a joy to read, but this is his best. He tells of his time in the Canadian Wildlife Service assigned to live out a summer in the frozen Arctic to study wolves and find out why they were killing so many caribou. For a long time wolves had been perceived as opportunistic hunters, killing weaker species for fun. But during his time in the wild, Mowat finds a different story completely and even comes to develop a deep affection for the wolf pack he is observing. This classic tale speaks to the true nature of man versus wild. A quote from the book sums it up well, “we have doomed the wolf not for what it is, but for what we deliberately and mistakenly perceive it to be — the mythological epitome of a savage, ruthless killer — which is, in reality, no more than the reflected image of ourself.”
The Call of the Wild & White Fang by Jack London
A list of books about wolves would not be complete without these two classics. Published in 1903 and 1906 respectively, London drew on his experience in the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush of the 1890’s to write these wildly popular books. The Call of the Wild tells the story of Buck, a domestic dog that was kidnapped from his loving home in California and taken to the Yukon to be a sled dog in harrowing and sometimes violent conditions. Conversely, White Fang, is about a wild wolf-dog that is found and brought up as a domesticated sled dog. Both of these books explore the relationships between man and nature, and demonstrates humanity’s tendencies toward violence and, contrarily, peace.
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
This was one of my very favorite books when I was a kid. It’s the story of a 13-year-old Yupik girl in Northern Alaska. She grew up hunting with her father and learning the ways of the land. But when her father disappears and she is shipped off to marry an unkind man, she decides to run away. She hunts small game and makes camp along the way, but when it becomes tougher to find food she befriends a pack of wolves. She finds a way to communicate her hunger with the wolves and they bring her food. Jean Craighead George wrote the book in 1972 after visiting Barrow, Alaska with her son. She went to the far north town as a journalist to visit scientists studying wolves. She saw the way the native people interacted and communicated with the animals and was intrigued. When they saw a curious young girl alone on the tundra, her son wondered aloud what the young girl was doing out there all alone, thus providing the basis of this wonderful story. George wrote two sequels to this book in the 1990’s. Those are Julie and Julie’s Wolf Pack.
Shadow Mountain by Renee Askins
This is the beautifully written memoir of a women who’s mission was to bring wolves back to the American wilderness. As part of her undergraduate research in the 1980’s Askins raised a wolf pup in captivity and named her Natasha. After creating a bond with this wolf and studying others in captive conditions she recognized their unhappiness with this lifestyle. She vowed to Natasha that she would bring wolves back to Yellowstone National Park and spent many long years of hard work fighting for her cause. She took on politicians, ranchers and endured death threats, disappointment and meager wages to create the Wolf Fund. This heartwarming story of persistence and dedication to these intriguing animals will certainly inspire you.
See Also: 3 Among the Wolves by Helen Thayer