Every Good Morning

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I have been reading about wolves since returning from Yellowstone. I wanted to share these few paragraphs from Bass’s wonderful book:

“Wolves are so full of passion that they can barely stand it. That same summer that the widowed Ninemile male was dragging fawns back to his family’s den, a wolf pack up in Alaska hunted down four grizzlies — a mother and three yearling cubs — because the grizzlies had wandered too close to the wolves’ den. Normally, grizzlies dominate wolves; they’ll run them off a carcass and claim the spoils, draping their body across the carcass like a basketball player claiming a much valued prize. Grizzlies will eat wolves when they can catch and kill them.

But not this time. The wolf pack in Denali (twelve hunting members) was pissed because the grizzlies had crossed that boundary of motherhood, had come far too close to the den, and the very next day, the wolves sanctioned the grizzlies: went out hunting, caught up with the bears and killed two of the young grizzlies and wounded the other young bear and the sow. There wern’t any second chances, no bluffing the way two species capable of hurting each other usually do; nor was there the discipline, or desire, on the wolves’ part, to serve their revenge “cold” as the Sicilian adage goes. There was too much passion. The wolves were last seen by a park biologist carrying grizzly-bear parts back to their den for their pups to feed on.

Some dry biologist might say, “Oh, that’s just a selective advantage, same as preying on the weak — the pack pups must be preserved at all costs, for they are the pack’s future — and it’s a selective advantage for a population to enforce aggressively its home territory, especially during the denning season” — but the wolves endured all kinds of wounds in their battle with the grizzlies, and it’s nature’s design to try and avoid lacerations, broken bones, infections, death. I think the evolutionary stuff is fine up to a point, but that there is also a point where it becomes bullshit — that twelve wolves attacking and fighting to the death four grizzlies is pure passion, revenge and nothing else.”

Chapter 3, pages 38-39

© Mike Wall

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