Fourteen Wolves: A Rewilding Story
48pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99
If a writer or a movie-maker wants to add eerie, sinister atmosphere to a story, then the howl of the wolf is guaranteed to send shivers up the spine. For the wolf has its own kind of magic, one that springs from fairytales and legends, from history and mythology going back to the story of Romulus and Remus and even today, in a wolf-less Australia, wolves are the older boy’s dinosaur in the same way a dolphin is the older girl’s unicorn.
So this true story about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone Park in the USA will fascinate many. Once, wolf packs roamed from the Arctic tundra to Mexico, but the loss of habitat and extermination programs led to their demise throughout most of the United States by the early 1900s, leading to their being declared endangered. In the Yellowstone National Park, as in many other areas, the ecosystem started to collapse. Enormous herds of elk swarmed the plains, bears starved, rabbit families shrunk and birds flew away to new homes. Plants vanished, trees withered and rivers meandered.
But in 1995, Yellowstone was designated one of three areas where these creatures would be reintroduced under careful supervision and management and this is the story of that homecoming. Examining the landscape without the wolf as the primary predator, to the tracking and capturing of the first wolf and its mates to return, their reestablishment and the recovery of the landscape, this is a story that not only tracks the first 14 wolves but also demonstrates the important role that all species have in the protection and survival of the planet. Even where there is conflict between humans and predators it is critical that we learn to live alongside each other.
Written for independent readers as a narrative rather than a collection of facts and figures, this is one to suggest to those who want to know more about the creature that has captured their imagination and teamed with this information from the US National Park Service, you will be offering them a fascinating learning experience that could inspire them to even further investigation such as the story and impact of the eradication of the Tasmanian Tiger. Engrossing.