From The Three Little Pigs to Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf has often been portrayed in European culture as a monster that is crafty and vicious, being viewed as either dangerous predators or rivals for food. However, other perceptions of the wolf include viewing the animal as a spirit animal, attributing human inner qualities to the creature or seeing the wolf as a source of scientific data. These concepts are challenged in The Hidden Life of Wolves, a fascinating book written by wildlife filmmakers Jim and Jamie Dutcher who argue that the wolf is not "the wolf of nightmares," "the spirit wolf," or "the managed wolf." Instead they favor the idea of "the social wolf."
The Dutchers chronicle the story of the Sawtooth Pack and the wolves’ reintroduction to their natural habitat in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. The Dutchers lived in a tent alongside the pack for years witnessing the social behaviors of the wolf pack and drawing conclusions based on little before seen wolf actions. Throughout the Dutchers’ experience with the Sawtooth wolf pack, they were able to shed light on illusive habits of wolf packs in general, revealing the social lives of wolves. They observe the joy of the pack when pups are born as well as the mourning that occurs when the pack loses a member. Witnessing such events allows the Dutchers to conclude that wolves are more than the mythical creatures that are read about in fairy tales but instead are highly social creatures.
Not only is the information within the book detailed, but the photographs are beautiful and captivating. The Dutchers make a compelling case for the preservation of the wolf packs and their habitats. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the social behaviors of animals and environmental issues.