Monday, March 27, 2017

Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat, 247 pages

A rattletrap plane landed on a frozen lake in the Keewatin Barrens, unceremoniously deposited one man and a mountain of supplies, and lurched off again into the sky. Farley Mowat, official biologist for the Canadian government, had arrived at his destination. His mission: "to determine the range/population ration of Canis lupus in order to establish contact with the study species." In other words, "The wolf, Lieutenant Mowat, is your problem!" In these pages Farley Mowat describes an Arctic summer spent watching and tracking the activities of a wolf family which he came to know better than he knew himself.
Like others before him who have made close acquaintance with the wolf, Mowat found the wolf in fact to be very different from the wolf of legend. Though he saw his wolves, at first, as objects for study, they soon became more than that. The regal, silver-white male, austerely identified as Wolf "A" in the official notebook, soon turns into"George"; his graceful, ebullient mate turns into "Angeline"; and the single male, baby-sitter for the four mischievous cubs, turns into "Uncle Albert."
Mowat unraveled the complex tactics of wolves on a hunt; investigated the male rituals of marking off the "family boundaries." He tested, by trying it himself, the nutritional value of the wolf's summer diet-mice. He observed the hospitality meted out to visiting wolves and learned how cubs are reared and educated. He found that the wolf is an adept fisherman, a loyal spouse, an impressive lover. From Ootek, an Eskimo steeped in the ways of the wolves, he learned something of their language, and of the meaning behind the Eskimo saying, "The wolf keeps the caribou strong."

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