Wolves in the Land of Salmon – David Moskowitz
The first thing I learned from this book is that I missed my calling. The author/photographer is a wildlife tracker, spending a great deal of time walking the mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest following the evidence left behind by animals to help piece together a larger picture of their behaviour.
Anyone interested at all in wolves, will thoroughly enjoy this book. I found the writing to be engaging, and the photography, both of wolves and the landscape they occupy, beautiful. Anything you ever wanted to know about wolves is included here. Broadly covering their return to Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia (and to a lesser degree Montana, California and Alberta), after mankind did a very effective job extirpating them a mere 125 years ago. I found the book balanced, exploring the viewpoints of those who would prefer to go back to exterminating them, and those who see a value to their presence in the landscape. He explores their physiology, social structure, hunting strategies, reproduction, how different landscapes affect them, how they interact with other apex predators - including us humans, etc.
What I appreciated is the detail he went into explaining wolves as part of an eco-system. That all species, both plant and animal, all affect one another. An increase in one, has an effect on one species, that decreases another species.
One of the things I found most fascinating was this section:
Salmon host a parasite that canines (including domestic dogs) can contract from eating the fish. The parasite is usually fatal for canines if untreated. Neorickettsia helminthoeca is a bacteria-like organism that has a complex life cycle which includes passage through an intestinal fluke (Nanophyetus salmincola), an aquatic snail (Oxytrema species), various species of salmonids, and salmon eating mammals including wolves. Snails, infected with the fluke are consumed by salmon and trout. In ﬁsh the ﬂuke is benign, found most abundantly in the muscle tissue and kidneys of the ﬁsh. When the ﬁsh is consumed by a mammal, the larvae embed in the intestinal tract and the bacterium is released, causing symptoms including persistent diarrhea and vomiting. Cysts of the infected flukes are expelled in the feces of the infected mammal. Foraging snails pick up these cysts and the life cycle begins again.