Friday, November 23, 2018

A WIld Wolfenoot to You!

Well, tonight is Wolfenoot, the holiday invented by a 7-year-old boy, during which the Spirit of the Wolf lopes across the land hiding presents for everyone -- especially people who have been kind to dogs.  Naturally I have to post something wolf-related:

In 1970 biologist L. David Mech published The Wolf, the definitive study of the canid carnivores . . . and for decades thereafter he tried to buy up all copies, because the conclusions he arrived at concerning alphas and pack relationships were flawed, because he was studying wolves living in limited environments defined by Man.

In 2003, however, Mech and Luigi Boitani of the University of Rome edited Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, the real definitive study.

A chapter of Wolves is called "Wolf Interactions with Non-Prey."  In other words, what happens when other predators and large animals collide with wolves.  I call it the "Wolves Vs." chapter.  For instance, cougars and wolves will occasionally attack and even kill each other, but normally cougars climb to higher altitudes to hunt (thus "mountain" lions).

Grizzly bears, as you might guess, can cause wolves a lot of trouble.  A naturalist observed a young bear in 1944 who apparently wanted to be a wolf-fighter when he grew up.  A mother grizzly and her three yearlings were trying for a pack's meat-caches.  "The darkest yearling seemed to enjoy the fight, for he would dash at the wolves with great vigor, and was sometimes off by himself, waging a lone battle."

Tigers run into wolves in Asia and Siberia.  They do not normally interact.  A naturalist named L. I. Makovkin knew of only two cases in which a tiger had killed a wolf.  "In neither case did the tiger consume the wolf."

"You do not respond to reason -- so now you will know fear" -- Shere Khan

I was shocked by the hyena section.  There are only a few spots on earth, in Eurasia, where hyenas ever run into wolves, and usually -- the hyenas win.

Maybe the wolves should practice on something smaller.  Like Arctic Foxes.  "In one instance, wolves spent considerable time and effort trying to fend off an Arctic Fox at a fresh muskox kill."  Wait -- they couldn't protect their meat from ONE Arctic Fox?

How about a bird?  Can a wolf pack beat a bird?

"The birds would dive at a wolf's head or tail, and the wolf would duck and then leap at them.  Sometimes the ravens chased the wolves, flying just above their heads, and once, a raven waddled to a resting wolf, pecked its tail, and jumped aside as the wolf snapped at it . . . the bird allowed it within a foot before arising.  Then it landed a few feet beyond the wolf and repeated the prank." [p. 270]

Nice of it to let the wolf think it had a chance . . . All in all, a disappointing showing from Team Wolf!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

"Endangered Species" is Almost Here!

Endangered Species, the first volume in the Fanzine trilogy, will be ready for Amazon Kindle soon!

A novel made of the stories, editorials, letters of comment and essays from an amateur magazine, Endangered Species encompasses aspects of fantasy, horror, humor and action-thriller.  But why take my word for it?  Chester W. Monday, Editor of OMNIBUS, the fanzine in question, has this to say about Endangered Species: Fanzine Volume One:

I had no idea putting together an amateur magazine could become so strenuous.  I was doing better than my writers, however.  Gwen ended up being chased by a giant raccoon -- with a chainsaw:
"The Poulan motor growled behind us.  Lee all but long-jumped down the hall.  I paused at the entrance.  I had to see.
"The chainsaw paddle vanished as its wielder twisted to ram the door.  The half-splintered barrier crashed inwards.
"And reality ceased to have meaning for me.  Yes, I’d read 'Endangered Species.'  Several times, in fact.  Yes, I believed every word of it.  But seeing a six-foot-tall raccoon, wearing a muzzle/hockey mask and greasy overalls and hauling around a smoke-spewing black and yellow chainsaw – that was the Nope Express leaving the station for Nopeville, Nope Dakota."
Damon found himself caught up in the 'Possum Apocalypse:

"The horn blared again.  Something dropped from the hood to the road.  I saw it only in silhouette, but the steam-engine hiss told me it was another opossum.
"I kept to the guardrail to avoid the blinding headlights.  Down the road, beyond the Jeep, Randall exploded out of the underbrush.  Son of a bitch if there wasn’t a naked-tailed marsupial clinging to his leg.
“'’Possum Apocalypse!' he screamed.  He smacked the offending animal with his battery lamp and finally shook it off.
I paused to kick away the critter from the Jeep’s hood.  Yet another gray ‘possum dropped onto the vehicle’s roof from the clawlike branches of a cottonwood.
“'When you’re right, you’re right!' I cried."
Brandy woke up one fine spring morning to discover she had been transformed into a Himalayan snow leopard:

"I drew my right hand close.  I made a fist – half a fist, at least.  I found black pads nearly hidden in fluffy white fur, and the tips of sharp yellow nails.  The mitten did have a thumb, like a fat tick with its own little fishhook of a claw.
"I twisted over and pushed myself up with my mittened hands.  I looked back along my right side.  An expanse of slush gray and ivory white fur.  A thick haunch and a double-jointed leg.  A curve of black-white tail, more thickly furred at the tip than at the base.
"I wheezed with a scrape like a cross-cut saw.  I tried moving my foot.  A white hind paw kicked at the pink rug."
. . . And now whoever, whatever is behind these bizarre events has focused its attention on me!  My imaginary childhood playmate has returned from Limbo to help me, but I don't find that very reassuring:

"I didn’t recognize the voice.  I was still asleep enough that this didn’t bother me.
"'Come on, Mate, we haven’t much time!'
"I was pulled to a sitting position on the couch.  I even felt a couple of pats to the cheek.  I opened my eyes angrily.
"I focused on a muzzled face of the palest tan, with whiskers and a harelip, big brown shiny eyes, and long, donkeylike ears that poked up through the brim of an Australian ranger hat.
"A chocolate-brown paw clamped over my mouth just as I tried to scream.  The marsupial had quite a grip – yes, my rude awakener was Mr. Kangaroo, unseen lo, these many years."
All this and more awaits you in Endangered Species: Fanzine Volume One.  If we survive long enough to publish it!