YELLOWSTONE REGION BOOKS
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1997:
Yellowstone Wildlife: A Watcher’s Guide
Track of the Coyote
Glacier Park Wildlife:
A Watcher’s Guide to Glacier Park & Waterton Lakes
Grand Canyon, Zion & Bruce
All by Todd Wilkinson, with photos by Michael H. Francis
All from NorthWord Press (POB 1360, Minoqua, WI 545498), 1995.
Watcher’s Guides are 96 pages, paperback, $11.95.
Others are 144 pages, paperback, $14.95.
NorthWord Press had the misfortune
to send us their Todd Wilkinson/Michael
Francis library on the great National Parks of
the Rocky Mountains in late 1995 just after
we’d explored the Continental Divide from
Bozeman, Montana, to Puerto Penasco,
Mexico, and had extensively reported on our
findings. Fortunately these books were
designed to have a long shelf life, and are still
in print. Yellowstone Wildlife explains to the
first-time visitor what species one can see and
how best to find them––which is often from a
car, as bison, elk, and mule deer are quite
used to cars but respond to humans on foot as
a threat. Unfortunately, since Wilkinson published
his Yellowstone guide, the once unusually
accessible coyotes of the Lamarr Valley,
memorialized in Track of the Coyote, have
been extirpated by the reintroduction of
The Glacier Park and Grand Canyon
guides follow much the same format, opening
with reminders about wildlife-watching etiquette
and safety, progressing to descriptions
of the animals one might meet in each location,
with maps and tracking tips to make
finding most of them relatively easy.
The Yellowstone Wolves: The First Year
by Gary Ferguson
Falcon (POB 1718, Helena, MT 59624), 1996. 174 pages, paperback, $12.95.
The Wolves of Yellowstone
Michael K. Phillips & Douglas W. Smith
Photos by Barry & Teri O’Neill
Voyageur Press (123 N. 2nd St., Stillwater, MN 55082), 1996.
112 pages, hardcover, $24.95.
Sometimes it seems there were more
books written about the Yellowstone wolf
reintroduction than there were wolves reintroduced.
Gary Ferguson’s text-only version is
the more candid of this pair, including, for
instance, a brief treatise on how the presence
of wolves may gradually reduce elk hunting in
the Yellowstone region. Restoration project
leaders Michael Phillips and Doug Smith are
more politically self-conscious, incorporating
into their book a photo of themselves shaking
hands with Bill Clinton, plus guest essays by
a small army of influential persons.
Both books are tediously diplomatic
toward ranchers, whom conservationists
appease by killing each wolf––arrived at cost
of $100,000 or more––who persists in eating
livestock, who are left on the range unattended
in the first place only because taxpayersubsidized
grass and predator control have
made cattle and sheep flesh artificially cheap.
The sodbuster Joe Start had it right,
in the classic western S h a n e, which was
filmed in Grand Teton National Park, just
south of Yellowstone, in 1950. “You don’t
own this land,” Start told an arrogant rancher.
“Whatever you did here, your time is over.”
Open-range ranching wasn’t over
only because of government subsidies.
Open-range ranching is, to be sure,
far more humane than the feedlot methods
used to produce somewhat more than 95% of
the total U.S. red meat supply. But beef needs
the cowboy image, not the cowboys. The red
meat industry could afford to let wild predators
eat every range-fed cow and sheep in the
Rockies, if that was the price of doing business,
and would pay open-range ranchers to
in effect feed predators, if necessary to avoid
having consumers realize their hamburger
never ate green grass or wandered at will.
But why learn to live with wildlife
when wildlife advocates themselves support
posses to mow down any wild predator who
acts like one?