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Good Reads  Mammals  Insectivores to Ungulates  Carnivores  Wolves, Dogs, Foxes & other Canids

The Alpha Female Wolf The Fierce Legacy of Yellowstone's 06

Coming Soon
Series: Alpha Wolves of Yellowstone Volume: 4
By: Rick McIntyre(Author), Dame Jane Goodall(Foreword By)
264 pages, 8 plates with colour photos; 2 b/w maps
Publisher: Greystone Books
The Alpha Female Wolf is a long overdue recognition of who really rules the pack and continues this multigenerational saga.
The Alpha Female Wolf
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  • The Alpha Female Wolf ISBN: 9781771648585 Hardback Dec 2022 In stock
  • The Alpha Female Wolf ISBN: 9781778401770 Paperback Aug 2024 Available for pre-order
Selected version: £14.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles Recommended titles

About this book

Following five generations of female wolves – including the famous 06 – this gripping family saga set in Yellowstone National Park reveals the pivotal role that female wolves play in pack life. Yellowstone's 06 female was called 'the most famous wolf in the world.' Her strength, beauty, and intelligence were unmatched, and her ability to hunt, protect her young cubs, and choose the right mates made her pack successful. In his latest book, award-winning author and renowned wolf researcher Rick McIntyre turns his spotting scope on 06 and more remarkable female wolves, telling the dramatic true story of five generations of female leaders in Yellowstone National Park.

As Rick shows us, female wolves, not their male counterparts, play the most pivotal roles in pack life. They choose who may mate with them and where their pack will hunt and raise pups. They negotiate treaties and fiercely defend their families. The only opponent they cannot defeat is a human with a gun.

In The Alpha Female Wolf, McIntyre profiles 06's rise to power. He also celebrates the lives of other female wolves who deserve our recognition. Throughout, McIntyre weaves wolf biology and storytelling into a page-turning narrative that, once again, gives readers a rare window into life in a wolf pack – this time from a female point of view.


Map of Northeast Yellowstone National Park
Select Yellowstone Wolf Pack Territories 2009-2015
The Matriarchs
Foreword by Jane Goodall
The History of the Druid Pack

Part I: 2009-2010
1. Acting as the Alpha
2. Enter the 06 Female
3. 06 Puts Together a Team
4. 06 and Her First Pups
5. 06 Moves to Lamar Valley

Part II: 2011
6. 06's Second Litter
7. Prelude to War

Part III: 2012
8. Death on the Lamar River
9. The Rescue of the 06 Female
10. The Mollie's Pack Attacks 06's Family
11. The Den Raid
12. Teamwork
13. The Revenge of a Mother Wolf
14. The Lamar Pack in Late Summer
15. Hard Times

Part IV: 2013
16. Starting Over
17. The Setback

Part V: 2014
18. Quest for an Alpha Female

Part VI: 2015
19. Hard Times for 926
20. 926's Triumph
21. The Meaning of the Word Hope

Author's Note

Customer Reviews (1)

  • A long overdue recognition of the female wolf
    By Leon (NHBS Catalogue Editor) 24 Jan 2023 Written for Hardback

    The wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 are some of the best-studied mammals on the planet. Biological technician and park ranger Rick McIntyre has spent over two decades scrutinising their daily lives, venturing into the park every single day. Where his previous books focused on three notable alpha males, it is ultimately the females that call the shots and make the decisions with lasting consequences. This book is a long overdue recognition of the female wolf and continues this multigenerational saga.

    If wolf 21, the subject of the second book, was the most famous male wolf in Yellowstone, then his granddaughter 06 (named after her year of birth, 2006) can safely be called the most famous female wolf. This fourth book picks up where the third book ended, covering the period 2009–2015. It tells 06's life story, her untimely death, and the fate of one of her daughters. To refreshen your mind, some prefatory sections give a brief list of notable matriarchs through the years and a short history of the Druid Peak pack, which were the ancestors of 06.

    The fact that wolves have unique characters is again confirmed here: 06 is a gorgeous wolf that has many suitors but, until age four, she rejects them all and is a rare example of a lone female wolf. Lone wolves, quite rare to begin with, are usually males in search of a new pack with unrelated females. In 2010 she forms the Lamar Canyon pack with two brothers younger than her: 754 and 755. Three successful years follow in which she has a litter of pups every year. Through a combination of fearlessness and wise choices, all pups survive their first year. A particular challenge is the nearby Mollie's pack, led by an aggressive female, that starts making incursions into 06's territory. There is a long-running feud between the Mollie's and the very successful Druid Peak pack and its descendants, which can be traced back to 1996 when Druids killed several wolves of Mollie's pack.

    This book has the task of both continuing the story but also looking back. Several chapters end with boxes that briefly tell the story of other notable female wolves past and present. If you have read all or some of the previous trilogy, you know that the writing might not win prizes for its style. Instead, McIntyre distils thousands of days spent in the field and as many pages of notes into a deeply informed, unembellished eyewitness account of the daily lives of these wolves. He always clearly indicates where he reconstructs likely events not observed first-hand or imagines the inner lives of the wolves. As before, The Alpha Female Wolf is divided into parts that each cover a year, usually subdivided into several chapters. This time there are unfortunately no family trees included, which I would have found helpful, though the cast of characters remains manageable.

    My impression is that this book contains more references to scientific research than the previous ones. There are observations on chronic wasting disease, contagious to elk, and how wolves are likely limiting its spread by selectively killing sick elk. McIntyre asks a wolf geneticist just how different the introduced wolves from Canada are from the original wolves that lived in this area, and gives some deeper insights into the genetic history of US wolf populations. And he speaks to two researchers studying wolf howling and how each individual produces unique harmonic overtones by which the wolves might recognize each other, to which McIntyre contributes some informal observations later in the book. There are also numerous interesting behavioural and natural history observations. Food features in particular, with chance observations of wolves feeding on eggs of ground-nesting birds, fruit from a rosebush, and the occasional beaver. McIntyre observes hunting sequences that show the wolves using the local terrain to their advantage.

    McIntyre is on form in the first two-thirds of the book, detailing how 06's fierceness and intelligence help her not only to survive but to thrive. She carefully chooses her partners to form a strong, cooperative team, while her choice of denning site under a natural rockfall provides superior protection from a raid by the Mollie's pack. At various points in the book, McIntyre highlights how the actions and choices of 06 and others show the important role of alpha females in shaping pack life and pack dynamics in the park. Inspired by the many military veterans that visit Yellowstone, he draws a human parallel, describing the alpha female as a commanding officer while the alpha male is an executive officer carrying out her agenda.

    How cruel, then, is the sudden death of first 754 and then 06 when they venture just outside park boundaries and are shot, legally, by hunters. I have to admit that I found this twist of fate really upsetting to read. Both McIntyre and the book never really recover from the blow. While the first three years (2010–2012) take up two-thirds of the book, the next three years (2013–2015) are covered in the remaining one-third. McIntyre commits himself to documenting the fall-out of these killings, which sees 755 go through several failed attempts at establishing a new family, and follows the fate of one of 06's daughters, 926. Although there are happy endings of a sort, the lives of both these survivors are shot through with hardship and loss. Where the threat of hunting was only theoretical in the previous book, here it becomes reality with the removal of wolves from the endangered species list. Remarkably, even though the events have an emotional impact on both him and other wolf biologists and spotters, McIntyre continues to refrain from voicing his opinion or discussing in any depth the reasons for, and problems with, the hunting of wolves. He hints at the why of this when talking to a group of schoolchildren: "being a National Park Service employee in uniform, I could not voice a political opinion about wolf-hunting regulations outside the park" (p. 233). There is much here that remains unsaid, and Nate Blakeslee's book The Wolf offers an outsider's perspective on the whole situation that is well worth reading.

    Ecologists know how important long-term research is, but also both how hard and rare it is. McIntyre's decades-long commitment to observing the Yellowstone wolves, and then turning these into books for the general public, is commendable. The Alpha Female Wolf succeeds in both celebrating 06's remarkably successful life and in indicating the important role of the female of this species. In a conversation with McIntyre last year, he mentioned one more book is planned that will cover events up to 2021. There are yet more stories to be told about these iconic animals and I am looking forward to immersing myself one more time in their lives.
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Rick McIntyre has spent more time observing and documenting wolves in the wild than any other person. A retired National Park ranger, McIntyre has spent more than forty years watching wolves in America’s national parks, twenty-five of those years in Yellowstone, where he has accumulated over 100,000 wolf sightings, worked on the Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction Project, and educated the public about the park’s wolves. He lives in Silver Gate, Montana.

Coming Soon
Series: Alpha Wolves of Yellowstone Volume: 4
By: Rick McIntyre(Author), Dame Jane Goodall(Foreword By)
264 pages, 8 plates with colour photos; 2 b/w maps
Publisher: Greystone Books
The Alpha Female Wolf is a long overdue recognition of who really rules the pack and continues this multigenerational saga.
Media reviews

"McIntyre's stories let us understand why every hunter/gatherer society in the world admired wolves as "brothers and sisters in the hunt" – to be understood, respected, and on our most hopeful days, emulated."
– Ed Bangs, former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf recovery coordinator for the Northern Rockies

"Rick McIntyre shares gripping and poignant stories about wolves that illustrate their lives in intimate detail. There has never been an adventure story starring wolves comparable to this one."
– Norman Bishop, Yellowstone Wolf Interpreter and Advisor to the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project and Living With Wolves

"Rick McIntyre's fourth book in a most remarkable series of books about "all things wolves" is a gem, as were his first three outstanding books detailing the fascinating and surprising lives of the wolves of Yellowstone."
– Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, co-author of A Dog's World: Imagining the Lives of Dogs in a World Without Humans

"Rick's writing is so vivid, so powerful, that I feel I have been right there with him among the wolves of Yellowstone. And I urge you, the reader, to come with us and discover the magic of wolf society."
– Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

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