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.

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