Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wolf of Legend

I have seen a lot of good wildlife documentaries in recent years. But 'The Wolf That Changed America' (Nature episode, 2007) stands out for its emotional impact.

And you can see it for free online.

Based on Ernest Thompson Seton's Wild Animals I Have Known (1898) and his journals, the film reenacts the story of Seton's hunt for the legendary wolf Lobo, evaluates the scientific plausibility of the story, and explains its significance for Seton and this country.

Lobo, a huge alpha male, leads a pack of livestock-hunting wolves in the Currumpaw region of northern New Mexico. The cunning animal eludes all guns, traps, and poison, and feasts heartily on cattle. The bounty on Lobo escalates until it reaches a record $1000, and still he makes fools of all pursuers. Finally, the ranchers call in one of America's foremost authorities on wolf-hunting--Ernest Thompson Seton. And so the contest for the ages ensues, the best trapper versus the wiliest wolf. The wolf proves no easy opponent.

In his prolonged hunt for Lobo, Seton comes to new insights about the animal's intelligence, bravery, loyalty, and capacity for love and loss. By the end of the saga, Seton's attitude towards wolves has changed, and he has discovered a new desire to preserve wild America. Seton goes on to become a founder of the American conservation movement.

Many of the early leaders of the conservation movement were writers and artists. Seton was both... and a cartoonist. Cartoon images populate his books, along with occasional comic sequences. I wish that I could travel back in time to meet this master of animal stories.

Wolf image by Seton, public domain

1 comment:

  1. Hey Ross, this is really awesome. I actually read a few of Seton's books this summer when I taught tracking merit badge. Cool stuff!