The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack

The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack

From the world-famous couple who lived alongside a three-generation wolf pack, this book of inspiration, drawn from the wild, will fascinate animal and nature lovers alike.For six years Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived intimately with a pack of wolves, gaining their trust as no one has before. In this book the Dutchers reflect on the virtues they observed in wolf society and be...

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Title:The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack
Author:Jim Dutcher
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Edition Language:English

The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack Reviews

  • Maxine

    There had been a debate raging in the US starting in the 1970s about reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone and other national parks. Historically, wolves have been one of the most vilified animals on the planet, a dangerous even evil predator. How often, for example, are mass murderers called ‘lone wolves’? It was a universally accepted ‘fact’ that wolves needed to be completely eliminated. And, in the US they almost were. But after they were gone, elk herds expanded out of control. The debate w

    There had been a debate raging in the US starting in the 1970s about reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone and other national parks. Historically, wolves have been one of the most vilified animals on the planet, a dangerous even evil predator. How often, for example, are mass murderers called ‘lone wolves’? It was a universally accepted ‘fact’ that wolves needed to be completely eliminated. And, in the US they almost were. But after they were gone, elk herds expanded out of control. The debate was finally settled in the 1990s in favour of reintroduction although the decision was and continues to be vehemently opposed by ranchers and hunters.

    Before the start of the program, Jim Dutcher was given permission to do a documentary about wolves in Yellowstone. To truly understand the animal, he felt he had to live in proximity with them. Wolf cubs were brought in from Canada and raised by Jim and his team until they were old enough to live on their own. To ensure the safety of the wolves, a fence was erected and Jim and his team provided food for them to keep the pack from wandering. Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived with the Sawtooth pack for six year, watching and recording their behaviour.

    Over the years, they gained the trust of the pack and what they observed looked nothing like the vicious animal of legend. Instead what they saw were distinct individuals but who formed a familial bond, who displayed ‘kindness, teamwork, playfulness, respect, curiosity, and compassion’. In The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack, Jim and Jamie discuss these virtues.

    I have no doubt that some would say that, in The Wisdom of Wolves, the Dutchers have anthropomorphized the wolves, attributing to them human characteristics and behaviour that aren’t really there or that, by keeping them in a safe place they changed the normal behaviour. But, throughout the book, the Dutchers give examples of similar behaviour from packs other observers have documented in the wild and from a distance.

    The Dutchers provide a fascinating view of the behaviours of wolves that makes it clear that, not only are they similar to humans in many surprising ways but that we could learn a great deal from them. By the end, I felt I knew and cared very deeply for the fate of the pack. They also show how important wolves are to the ecosystem. For anyone who believes that nature is a system of interconnected species and that the loss of even one group has a domino effect on the rest or, for that matter, just wants to know more about this beautiful animal, I can’t recommend The Wisdom of Wolves highly enough.

  • Jordan

    Simply incredible.

    Find this review and an

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    !

    For six years, Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived on the perimeter of Idaho's Sawtooth Wilderness with a pack of wolves known as the Sawtooth pack in order to observe the movements, behavior, and social lives of wolves. The couple gained the trust of the wolves and used their studies to share the beauty and significance of wolves amidst the prevalence of much rising anti-wolf sentiment and negative image

    Simply incredible.

    Find this review and an

    at

    !

    For six years, Jim and Jamie Dutcher lived on the perimeter of Idaho's Sawtooth Wilderness with a pack of wolves known as the Sawtooth pack in order to observe the movements, behavior, and social lives of wolves. The couple gained the trust of the wolves and used their studies to share the beauty and significance of wolves amidst the prevalence of much rising anti-wolf sentiment and negative imagery often associated with wolves. In their book, The Wisdom of Wolves, Jim and Jamie share the many important lessons and values they learned from wolves while observing them in their daily lives.

    I have a very special relationship the work of Jim and Jamie Dutcher and the Sawtooth pack, as I grew up with a mother and grandmother who both love wolves and supported their work. When I saw this book, I knew I had to read it, and I am so grateful that I had a chance to read and review a copy! I had such a wonderful time reading this book and it turned out to be one that I could not put down. The Dutchers are both incredibly eloquent with their thoughts and convey such striking, sincere emotion when discussing both the wolves themselves and lessons they have learned from the wolves.

    Each chapter focuses on a different 'lesson' that we, as humans, can learn from wolves. Within each chapter the Dutchers include anecdotes about wolves from the Sawtooth packs, wolves from other locations, and even from individuals involved in wolf protection and research. I found each chapter so enlightening and meaningful, and I feel as though I learned more about life from this short book than I have in a long time. Many of the stories and bits of wisdom shared were heartwarming, some heartbreaking, but all inspiring. I may or may not have even found myself tearing up at more than a few of their stories.

    Throughout the book, the Dutchers introduce their readers to the many distinct individual wolves that make up the Sawtooth pack, such as the alpha male Kamots, the alpha female Chemukh, the omega Lakota, and all the rest. My favorite part of this book was reading about how all of the wolves lived together, worked together, and how truly distinct each one's personality was. This book is also incredibly instructive in the different roles each pack members plays and how they all contribute to the whole.

    Overall, there's simply no way that I could give this book anything less than five stars. You can also find out more about the work the Dutchers have done (and continue to do) at their website,

    .

  • Jonathan Maas

    Wolves are beautiful, right? They represent freedom, and look great while howling on a T-shirt, right?

    Of course they are, but unfortunately, we live in a world hostile to wolves. We get along with deer, and squirrels, and most of the time bigger herbivores like moose, but wolves and humans do not get along.

    They roam only small sections of the United States. When they escape their enclosures, there is conflict.

    Wolves are beautiful, right? They represent freedom, and look great while howling on a T-shirt, right?

    Of course they are, but unfortunately, we live in a world hostile to wolves. We get along with deer, and squirrels, and most of the time bigger herbivores like moose, but wolves and humans do not get along.

    They roam only small sections of the United States. When they escape their enclosures, there is conflict.

    and

    do their best to capture wolves’ lives, and have done it by making an artificial enclosure, and then living amongst their semi-wild wolves, as they live a semi-wild life.

    This is not pure real life – the Dutchers are present with their wolves since they are pups, and bring their wolves food. These are not purely wild wolves.

    But it is perhaps the closest we can come to real observation in this day and age, and for that, we should be grateful.

    In short, we learn that wolves have interesting dynamics. There is an alpha male and female – and it is up for debate who really leads the pack of the two – and everyone else plays a part.

    Interestingly – when a new alpha male takes over – he helps protect and raise the previous alpha male’s pups.

    Wolves are interesting – they have grandparents and cousins, strangers and old friends. They communicate from great distances, and they spend a lot of time in play.

    In short, thank you Jim and Jamie Dutcher – thank you for bringing us

    !

  • Woody Chichester

    Insightful and interesting look at wolves as they are- family oriented, playful, smart, compassionate and even empathetic. Words you don't normally hear associated with wolves, but you should.

  • Diane S ☔

    Your reaction of this book will depend on what you are looking for. First, obviously you have to have an interest in wolves, which I do, and second if you are looking for a book about wolves in the wild, this one will not appeal. For me, it was exactly what I was looking for, a controlled environment that allowed the Dutchers a first hand look at wolf behavior. Each chapter is preceded by a photo, by books end all the wolves in their orbit were shown. Beautiful animals.

    Not only did I get to see

    Your reaction of this book will depend on what you are looking for. First, obviously you have to have an interest in wolves, which I do, and second if you are looking for a book about wolves in the wild, this one will not appeal. For me, it was exactly what I was looking for, a controlled environment that allowed the Dutchers a first hand look at wolf behavior. Each chapter is preceded by a photo, by books end all the wolves in their orbit were shown. Beautiful animals.

    Not only did I get to see each wolf's picture but I also learned about their different personalities, their role in the pack. How they played, where they gave birth, how they mourned when a pack member died or was killed. These animals have many of the same emotions and traits thatwe have, empathy, sensitivity, playfulness, loyalty, grief, curiousity. The cooperation between wolves and Ravens, how they use each other to search out food. I felt like I really got to know these wolves personally and missed them already at books end.

    The background of the Dutchers, the reintroduction of wolves at Yellowstone, wolves at Denali are also a part of this book. The fear people have, wanting to kill them when they step out of protected territory, and many are killed that way. There are so horrible statistics given terrible ways these wolves and their pups are killed. Heartbreaking, but as usual many are afraid of something they don't understand.

    Anyway this was exactly the book I personally was looking for.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Correen

    It took me awhile to appreciate the work of Jim and Jody Dutcher. I did not understand the value of a setting where humans and wolves lived in close proximity. It seemed that their observations would be contaminated. What was not clear to me was that in living close to the wolves, they came to understand the values, thinking, and emotions of the wolves. They learned that adult male wolves protected all young wolves, not just their own. He observed deliberate and difficult decision-making in the

    It took me awhile to appreciate the work of Jim and Jody Dutcher. I did not understand the value of a setting where humans and wolves lived in close proximity. It seemed that their observations would be contaminated. What was not clear to me was that in living close to the wolves, they came to understand the values, thinking, and emotions of the wolves. They learned that adult male wolves protected all young wolves, not just their own. He observed deliberate and difficult decision-making in the wolf community. They watched the patterns within the community and could predict behaviors of members based on their preferences, role, and community values. Comparison with other packs was achieved in their various projects and in their participation with other researchers.

  • Janelle

    “Only by seeing wolves as they are, as neither demon or deity but as creatures worthy of our admiration will we find tolerance within our own human character.”

    If you are familiar and a fan of wolves, there are no revelations here. But there are affirmations and beautiful stories about the true nature of wolves that I wish doubters would read.

  • Kerri Anne

    This is not the book about wolves I wanted it be. It's the latest offering written by a couple who lived with a pack of wolves in mountains our hearts also call home here in Central Idaho in the early '90s. But this wolf pack they lived with was not a wild pack, and therein lies the rub for me.

    Do I think it's important to foster factual knowledge of and reverence for wild wolves by nearly any means necessary? Yes, I do. But it hurt my heart to know these wolves never knew true freedom in their

    This is not the book about wolves I wanted it be. It's the latest offering written by a couple who lived with a pack of wolves in mountains our hearts also call home here in Central Idaho in the early '90s. But this wolf pack they lived with was not a wild pack, and therein lies the rub for me.

    Do I think it's important to foster factual knowledge of and reverence for wild wolves by nearly any means necessary? Yes, I do. But it hurt my heart to know these wolves never knew true freedom in their already short lives, and maybe that's the biggest truth this book once again solidified for me: There are so few places and ways where wolves can live their lives free from the literal and figurative trappings, needs, and misguided fancies of men.

    That humans have so aptly decimated entire species of apex predators out of fear, ignorance, greed, and sheer cruelty—and continue to hunt them as if they were an actual threat when every single hunter/farmer/trapper/rogue poacher should know better by now—is an ongoing tragedy. It's a tangible tragedy here in Idaho, where the Department of Fish & Game still issues endless tags to "hunt" wolves, even as wolf populations are still in steady decline. (They literally issue more tags for wolves than there are wolves in existence. It's disgusting, irresponsible, and at some point we'll learn that ecosystems and humans can't survive without apex predators, but by that point it'll likely be too late for all of us.)

    These wolves were bottle-fed and domesticated beyond recognition as a wild pack, and on top of that this book is one of the more poorly edited I've ever read, so while there will always be value in what wolves have to teach us, I definitely think there are much better (written and sourced) books about wolves.

    [Two stars for introducing me to some truly sobering statistics about local wolves (and all the cowardly, inhumane ways humans seek to eradicate them), and for reminding me how many miles we have to go before we sleep.]

  • Matt

    There are good wolf books out there. This, however, is not one of them.

    Quick, here's a fun exercise: Think of some cliches you could write about the wisdom of social pack creatures such as wolves. Now turn that list into a book that's roughly 200 pages longer than it needs to be. Voila! You've written this book—except you've probably done a better job, because it's hard—nearly impossible, really, given how terribly this is written and edited—to believe you could do worse.

    [1 star because Goodread

    There are good wolf books out there. This, however, is not one of them.

    Quick, here's a fun exercise: Think of some cliches you could write about the wisdom of social pack creatures such as wolves. Now turn that list into a book that's roughly 200 pages longer than it needs to be. Voila! You've written this book—except you've probably done a better job, because it's hard—nearly impossible, really, given how terribly this is written and edited—to believe you could do worse.

    [1 star because Goodreads does not yet offer a no-star option. This definitely got the hundred-page-rule treatment.]

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