American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West

American Wolf by investigative journalist Nate Blakeslee (Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town, a PEN/Martha Albrand Award finalist) is a savory blend of hardcore journalism, biodiversity analysis, weather and terrain reporting and good old-fashioned storytelling.

Once numbering in the millions, the continental United States wolf population was alarmingly low by 1920. Wolves suffered from the loss of their primary prey (bison), high demand for their pelts and aggressive bounties. With no wolf population to trim the herd, elk were overrunning Yellowstone and spilling into the surrounding states. In 1995, the Park Service decided to embed elk predator Canadian wolves into northeast Yellowstone's Lamar Valley. They thrived in the rough mountain terrain--and with the growing packs came biologists and tourists to observe the roaming wolves. An extraordinary mother, hunter and leader, a third-generation wolf born in 2006 (hence the "O-Six" sobriquet) became a star of the park--boldly defending her turf, raising pups from three litters and bringing down elk to feed her pack. The end for O-Six came with the federal government's 2012 decision to take wolves off the endangered species list in the states neighboring Yellowstone. Near the small Wyoming town of Crandall, lifelong hunter Steven Turnbull was in the Absaroka mountains when O-Six appeared in his gun sight. His kill shot made the New York Times under the headline "Famous Wolf Is Killed Outside Yellowstone."

American Wolf is the tale of an extraordinary wolf and those absorbed with her storied life. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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