WASHINGTON (Dec. 4, 2012)—Wolves! Evil and bloodthirsty villains of our fairytales, lurking in the forests and haunting our childhood nightmares. But how accurate is that reputation? Our cultural misconceptions of the wolf are exposed in the remarkable and timely new book THE HIDDEN LIFE OF WOLVES (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-1012-9; on sale Feb. 5, 2013; $25; hardcover), by Jim and Jamie Dutcher, which reveals a little-understood, highly social animal that, much like we do, communicates lessons, bonds together and cares deeply for its family.
For more than 20 years, the Dutchers have focused their lives on the study and documentation of wolf behavior. As two of America’s most eminent experts on wolves, they are devoted to sharing their knowledge for the betterment and understanding of this keystone social species, which recently lost its federal protection and is being killed at an alarming pace.
Living among a pack of wolves at the edge of Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness, the Dutchers spent years in a tented camp, intimately observing the social hierarchy and behavior of the now-famous Sawtooth Pack. Over time, the wolves became comfortable enough with the Dutchers to reveal social bonds and intimate behavior never before documented. These extraordinary experiences led first to a series of films that won three Emmys and now to this groundbreaking book, which offers a new understanding of wolves through powerful insights, compelling images, timelines, maps and informational sidebars.
“Wolves possess something beyond their more obvious attributes of beauty, strength, and intelligence. These animals, who have been maligned for centuries and despised as the embodiment of all that is cowardly, savage, and cruel, clearly care about one another. They show signs of what we believe are nothing less than empathy and compassion,” the Dutchers write.
Vivid observations detailing the selection of pack leaders, the birth of pups and mourning the loss of a pack member offer new knowledge about wolves, enhanced by photography that brings these behaviors to life. Photos from the Dutchers will be featured in an upcoming photo exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago and other major U.S. cities.
Royalties from THE HIDDEN LIFE OF WOLVES will go to the Dutchers’ nonprofit organization, Living with Wolves, which is dedicated to raising awareness about wolves and their importance to the environment. The foreword to the book is by actor Robert Redford, who met Jim Dutcher 34 years ago, shares his concern for the natural world and serves on the honorary board of Living with Wolves.
The Dutchers cite breakthrough scientific studies that describe the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park and the animals’ pivotal role in restoring a natural balance. They are revealed as key members of wild ecosystems where they were meant to live.
“Wolves — curious, caring, and intelligent — share strong social bonds, wolves watch over each other, nurture their injured, and raise their pups among their family groups. By hunting together to feed the pack, wolves redistribute elk and deer and allow overgrazed trees and shrubs to rebound. As wolves restore natural order to ecosystems, they undo damage done long ago,” they write as they call for people to understand the wolf’s true nature and to work with it, not against it. “The more we learn about wolves, the more we see that taking into account their intelligence and their ability to learn and adapt could lead us to a path of coexistence.”
With this book, we come closer to this fascinating creature of the American wild than ever before, thanks to the amazing story told by the Dutchers and the Sawtooth wolf pack that let them into their lives.
About the Authors
JIM DUTCHER is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer whose extraordinary camerawork has led audiences to places never before filmed: inside beaver lodges, down burrows to peek at newborn wolf pups and into the private life of a mother mountain lion. His work includes the National Geographic special, “A Rocky Mountain Beaver Pond,” and ABC World of Discovery’s two highest-rated films, “Cougar: Ghost of the Rockies” and “Wolf: Return of a Legend.”
JAMIE DUTCHER, Jim’s wife and co-producer, worked in the animal hospital of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., before bringing her knowledge of animal husbandry and medical care to the Sawtooth film project. Her recordings of the howls of the Sawtooth Pack won an Emmy for sound recording.
About National Geographic Books
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