I write to protect wildlife and preserve wildlands. Wolves started me down this path. For three winters, my wife Mary and I left our home in Oregon and volunteered and lived at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in the remote northeastern corner of Yellowstone. 

The Lamar Valley is known as America's Little Serengeti and is the best place in the world to watch wolves in the wild.The ranch is the teaching site of the Yellowstone Forever. Students come from all over to attend field seminars taught by world-class experts in subjects such as ecology, geology, and photography. 

Mary and I supported the instructors, helped students spot wildlife, drove 14-passenger buses over snow-covered roads, and cleaned and maintained the ranch. During our first winter, we were lucky enough to observe 06, the famous Lamar Canyon pack alpha female, and the rest of her pack. I began that first winter as a fascinated observer. But slowly, I realized that I could not just observe. The wolves' place in the West and elsewhere is too tenuous.

On December 6, 2012, 06 was shot outside the park in the shoot-a-wolf-anytime-anywhere-for-any-reason rampage that Wyoming officials had the nerve to call a wolf hunt. With 06 gone, her alpha male, 755M, left the pack and Lamar Valley in search of a new mate. With no alphas remaining, the rest of 06’s pack scattered, some in the park, some out. One of her daughters eventually found a mate, had pups, and reinvigorated the Lamar Canyon pack. But life has been hard for the Lamars: mange, dying pups, and death by other wolves. 

Observing first hand the destructive impact of hunting on animals I had come to know and respect started me down the path of advocating for wolves from my home in Oregon. 

Eventually, the draw of Yellowstone was too strong to resist. After thirty-six years in Oregon, Mary and I moved to Montana. Now that we have lived next to Yellowstone’s grandeur for more than two years, we know that making the move to Gardiner was right. 

But we have also been surprised to learn that Gardiner sits smack in the middle of a number of controversies: the dispute over hunting Yellowstone wolves outside the park; the debate whether wolves help or harm the ecosystem and the local economy; the concern about overuse of and development around the park; the community effort to stop a possible gold mine on the park’s border; the outrage over the plan to remove grizzlies from the endangered species list; and the battle to stop the slaughter of park bison.

While living at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch—a wildlife-filled bubble where animals roamed with little fear of human intervention—we had stayed blissfully unaware of most of these controversies. There is no way we can avoid them in Gardiner; nor do we want to. 

My first book about Yellowstone, In the Temple of Wolves, describes living and working in the park as well as the ecology of the Lamar Valley. The book has been a bestseller in its Amazon category for more than three years.

I am close to releasing my second book, Deep into Yellowstone: A Year's Immersion in Grandeur and Controversy. This book digs deep into the controversies we found in Gardiner. Please check back for details. 

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What others say about In the Temple of Wolves:

 "... we are transported to the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park, living among the wolves, the coyotes, the bison, the trees, the mountains, the largest and smallest of wild things.... As a naturalist, Rick knows his biology and weaves into the narrative important emerging science; the wolf figures large in this wild world, exemplifying top-down ecological cascades.

He describes the stark beauty and treacherous cruelty of nature, with an honest voice that leaves no detail unsaid, be it exquisite or morbid. It’s not only the outer struggles in nature that are revealed in Rick’s writing, but also inner battles with his own human nature. It is a marvelous read."
William J. Ripple, Ph.D., professor, author


"Rick Lamplugh provides a refreshing natural history perspective of the ecological inner workings of the Lamar ecosystem. A perspective with a literary bent reminiscent of great naturalist writers such as Ann Zwinger—a touch of science and a touch of sentiment. From his line drawn in the snow to help visitors understand the battle of life and death played out between wolf and elk in the wintry viewscape, Rick teaches all who will read In The Temple of Wolves an understanding and appreciation of nature."

Jim Halfpenny, PhD, A Naturalist's World

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Rick,
    I just got back from my first trip to Yellowstone in the winter and spent a day in the Lamar Valley. I visited the Mammoth Visitors' Center and piled several books on the counter. I noticed yours, hesitated, then added it to the pile. Boy am I glad I did. I absolutely love your writing style--vivid descriptions, based on sound observations sprinkled with humility. I've spent 25 years keeping field notebooks on trips from Yellowstone to the Yukon, and I admire your ability to craft stories from your observations. I wish I could have stayed longer on this trip, but your book has helped extend my visit and will find a place in my bookcase of fine natural history writing. I look forward to receiving your blog posts.


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