The Return of the Wolf: Reflections on the Future of Wolves in the Northeast / Edition 1

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Long after their eradication from almost all parts of the US, wolves still evoke a primal response, firing the imagination with admiration, awe, and dread. Efforts to restore them to Yellowstone, North Carolina, and elsewhere have provoked heated public debate and met with only mixed success. Scientists and policymakers are debating the merits of returning the wolf to the northeastern US, where the forests of northern New England and upstate New York may provide the range and resources necessary to support them. This book brings together four thoughtful and literate observers of the natural world to reflect on the implications and potential of such an effort.

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, encourages a skeptical look at our own motivations in this restorative effort, even as he argues that the psychological and spiritual benefits to humans would be at least as great as the ecological benefits of restoration. John Theberge, a scientist with years of experience in tracking the Canadian wolf population, notes that issues of restoration and "return" are far more complex from a biological and ecological point of view than much of the debate would suggest. Kristin DeBoer, director of the wolf restoration project of the environmental group RESTORE: The North Woods, reviews the state of the political debates, while also offering a personal account of her own motivations and goals in this work. Finally, novelist and nature writer Rick Bass brings the experiences of his home state of Montana to bear on the debate in the northeast.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"John Elder has assembled an excellent primer on the subject . . . This is must reading for lovers of eastern wilderness." —Audubon Magazine
Library Journal
The proposed reintroduction of wolves to the northeastern United States is a hotly debated topic. A recent effort to restore wolf populations in Yellowstone National Park is apparently going well (see Thomas McName's The Return of the Wolf to Yellowstone, LJ 5/15/97, and Michael K. Phillips and Douglas W. Smith's The Wolves of Yellowstone, LJ 1/97), though data collection is still incomplete. While the Northeast is densely populated, experts believe that the forests of northern New England and upstate New York provide the range and resources necessary to support wolf habitation. In this volume, four writers contribute essays reflecting on the implications of a wolf restoration project in the Northeast. Novelist and nature writer Rick Bass compares the debate in the Northeast with experiences in his home state of Montana. Kristin DeBoer, an environmental activist and leader of the conservation group RESTORE, discusses the current political climate. John Theberge, who has studied the Canadian wolf population for years, writes about reintroduction from the ecological perspective. Bill McKibben asks us to think about our motivation in restoring wolf populations. This is a thought-provoking collection whose authors share their expertise and present a variety of viewpoints. Recommended for environmental collections, especially in the Northeast.--Deborah Emerson, Monroe Community Coll. Lib., Rochester, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Two prominent nature writers (Bill McKibben and Rick Bass) join a scientist (John Theberge) and an environmental activist (Kristin DeBoer) in pondering the implications of controversial efforts to restore wolves to portions of their former range in northern New England and upstate New York. The four essays consider aspects of the return of the wolf from the political to the social and spiritual. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
As Rick Bass writes, efforts to conserve species such as the wolf are like glaciers: They start moving when they reach a critical mass. If the thoughtful and eloquent words of the dedicated conservationists who wrote this book carry the weight they should, we may now be at that point.
Christian Science Monitor
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Product Details

Meet the Author

JOHN ELDER is Professor of English and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and author of Reading the Mountains of Home (1998) and Imagining the Earth (1985).

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Read an Excerpt

Scientists, politicians, wilderness advocates, and public agencies have all begun looking at the northeastern United States as a region where packs of wolves might once more be able to live. It is remarkable to find this conversation taking place in this long-settled and densely-populated part of the country, and one where the last wild wolf was killed well over a century ago. Public controversy has followed hard on the heels of such speculation, with bills to prohibit the reintroduction of wolves already debated in the state legislatures of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In the scientific realm, too, questions have arisen about whether restoration projects are called for . . . The debate will continue to be played out in the coming years. These four essays contribute their own distinctive and thoughtful reflections to this process. They remind us that the future of our entire region is connected, in vital and surprising ways, to the drama of these gray shadows just at the edges of our field of vision. -- From the Introduction by John Elder
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Chapter 1 Human Restoration 5
Chapter 2 An Ecologist's Perspective on Wolf Recovery in the Northeastern United States 22
Chapter 3 Dreams of Wolves 64
Chapter 4 Vermont as Montana 108
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