The Wolf Runt Who Rose To Alpha-Male Status In Yellowstone

Oct 17, 2019

For decades, Rick McIntyre has been one of Yellowstone’s most dedicated and passionate wolf-watchers. And in his new book, he tells the remarkable story of Wolf 8, one of the first wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone in the mid-’90s, and how the pup went from being runt of the litter to alpha male.

Guest

Rick McIntyre, author of “The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog.” Served with the National Park Service for 42 years, including as Yellowstone’s first wolf interpreter. He retired in 2018. He has had more wolf sightings more than any other person.

From The Reading List

Excerpt from “The Rise of Wolf 8” by Rick McIntyre

Excerpted from THE RISE OF WOLF 8 by Rick McIntyre. © 2019 Greystone Books. Reprinted by permission.


Psychology Today: “The Story of Yellowstone Wolf 8: From Underdog to Alpha Male” — “Rick McIntyre’s new book, The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog, is an incredibly detailed account of wolf behavior and the social dynamics within and between Yellowstone wolf packs. The amount of time Rick spent watching these amazing beings is staggering. From June 2000 to August 2015 he went out into the field for 6,175 consecutive days, and by the end of the day of February 27, 2019, he had 100,000 wolf sightings. He also has compiled more than 12,000 pages of detailed notes.

“Rick’s meticulous long-term observations and stories of identified individuals he knew well and followed for many years are unprecedented. For many years I’ve thought of Rick as the ‘go-to-guy’ for all things wolf, and The Rise of Wolf 8 amply confirms my belief. It’s a must read, to which I’ll return many times, for anyone interested in wolves and these magnificent beings are lucky to have Rick as their spokesman.

“In a previous post, ‘The Wolves of Yellowstone Love to Play—Just Like Dogs,’ I wrote about Rick’s detailed observations of the games that wolves play. Now, it’s my pleasure to offer an interview with him about many different aspects of wolf behavior. Our interview went as follows.”

Publishers Weekly: “The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog” — “McIntyre (War Against the Wolf), a longtime naturalist who specializes in wolves, begins a new trilogy centered on Yellowstone’s packs, using his observational and storytelling skills to make the animals relatable but not overly anthropomorphized. He follows the 1995 reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone through the stories of two individuals: Wolf 8 (out of the 14 animals originally released into the park), the runt of one pack who moves into the role of alpha of another, and Wolf 21, one of the pups of 8’s new mate, whose previous partner was killed by a poacher. Touching on the nature/nurture debate, McIntyre looks at 8’s seemingly paternal relationship with 21, who reveals many personality traits in common with his brave, gregarious, and loyal ‘stepfather.’ This narrative finally builds to a dramatic peak, with a clash between the aged 8 and full-grown 21, now head of another pack, seemingly inevitable. Throughout, McIntyre schools the reader in wolf behaviors, such as the ‘play bow’ used to initiate friendly interactions, and draws endearing comparisons between his own childhood and wolf family life. However, his greatest strength is the quiet respect and wonder with which he regards his subjects, a quality clearly informed by decades of careful watching and suffused throughout this thoughtful book.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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