Sep 10, 2007

A Naturalist In Alaska

by Adolph Murie

In the 1930's Adolph Murie and his brother Olaus traveled by dog team and on foot through Mt. McKinley National Park in Alaska, working as field biologists for the National Park Service. Their main goal was to study populations of Dall sheep and wolves in the park. The Park had just opened in 1917, and the Murie brothers were among the first men to observe wildlife in the area. In order to fully understand the balance of wolves and sheep, they also considered other species whose lives intertwined: arctic foxes, coyotes, caribou, grizzly bears, black bears, wolverine, lynx, snowshoe hares, even gulls and mice.

A Naturalist in Alaska is mostly about the general habits and movements of the various animals. There are a number of unique descriptions: mice who create weasel-proof tunnels and make hay, porcupines which are mistaken for bears, gulls that wash their food. I found most interesting the chapter on the wolves' hunting methods and tactics the sheep used to escape them. It is an informative volume, but lacks the lyric charm of A Sand County Almanac or the humor of Never Cry Wolf.

Rating: 3/5 ........ Published: 1961, 302 pgs

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