Wolf Nation

Brenda Peterson / Da Capo Press / 304 pages

Wolf Nation: The Life, Death, and Return of Wild American Wolves tackles the very difficult issue of human coexistence with wolves and how polarizing it has become—pitting federal against state governments, rural against urban, unfettered “use” against preservation. The book looks at the thousands of wolves killed at the hands of private citizens in state-sanctioned hunting and trapping and by the USDA’s Wildlife Services program. Wolf Nation also discusses the positive side: wolf advocates and ranchers working together to help decrease livestock depredation and prevent human-wildlife conflict.

And then there are the stories of the wolves themselves—the complex lives that they lead, the strong family bonds they have, and the individual wolves who have acquired a degree of fame, such as OR7 (“Journey”), the first gray wolf to arrive back in California in 2012 after wolves were extirpated from the state in 1924, and Yellowstone’s most famous wolf, 832F (“06 Female”), the alpha female killed in Wyoming by a trophy hunter when she stepped outside the park’s boundaries.

In addition to providing an interesting history on wolves in America, Wolf Nation does a good job of emphasizing just how much wolves need us right now in their struggle to return to areas they once occupied, as well as their potential to restore the healthy ecosystems we all depend upon.