Introduction

Narrative-driven and one of the more personal chapters of the book.

Part 1

(A brief history of the wolves in North America including the effect of settlers from the mid-1600s, recovery and rehabilitation efforts by environmentalists from the 1960s, and modern-day conservation efforts):

Chapter 1: Legend, Lore, and Legacy: The History of the Wolves in North America

How did wolves originate in North America according to both factual evidence and Indigenous lore? How reciprocal was their relationship with the environment and other species? This primarily context chapter discusses some of the scientific origins of wolves and their characteristics. However, that flows directly into their earliest history of wolves in North America and briefly begins the narrative by expounding on their interactions with the Indigenous Americans and how they lived in harmony with people and other species. This chapter lead ups to the start of the 1600s when the colonization of America was beginning. The scientific analysis of wolves draws from multiple sources and centers on their instincts, hunting methods, pack relationships, and habitat. Still, the Indigenous American views of the wolf are the true core of Chapter 1 because of their positive and reciprocal relationship with the wolves.  Throughout many Indigenous American stories, there is an appreciation of the shared origins and destiny for man and creatures alike, and the wolf is viewed as a being to respect—he is even humanized and considered as a brother in many cases.

Chapter 2: Malicious Monsters: The Colonial Impact and the War on Wolves

This narrative chapter unfolds the destruction of the environment and the direct attacks on wolves and other predators by colonial conquerors. Since colonizer propaganda viewed the natural world as something that needed to be tamed or eradicated, the United States government created a campaign for the “War on Wolves.” Wolves were depicted as nuisances at best and terrorists at worst; never mind that this country was their home and that settler society perpetrated acts of terror on the native peoples and wildlife. Few people stood up for the wolves, and alleged environmental leaders like Theodore Roosevelt deemed them “the beast[s] of waste and destruction.” Countless photographs document the destruction of the species, showing pelts piled high for victory and profit. Americans considered the acts as a betterment to society and themselves; they were, after all, only protecting their families and livestock. To this day, the wolves are the only species to be purposefully forced into near extinction by man. By means of systematic annihilation, the US government won its war on the wolves. The most common American wolf breed, the gray wolf, was all but eradicated while the others trailed closely behind. Once roaming the lower 48 states, they were confined to sparse parts of Michigan and Minnesota. By 1960, the wolf population was scarcely 300.

Chapter 3: Answering the Call of the Wild: Deliberate and Coincidental Human-Wolf Interactions

How often have human interactions with wolves been detrimental to the participants? This break-narrative chapter focuses on personal encounters with wolves in the wild and the humans who dared to answer their call. It spans from the days of Lewis and Clark all the way to a modern-day New Zealand couple (the Thayers) who, with their dog, spent an entire year within 100 feet or less of these wilderness sages. The latter example is the key illustration because the Thayers observed the dynamics of three specific packs and discovered many human-like qualities during their daily activities, and then they left the year-long experience unharmed. To include varying views, this chapter discusses some dangerous interactions, but it explains how rare those were and how humans usually instigated them. Finally, there are also brief excerpts of fictional and/or ancient tales of wolf-human interactions, such as Native American histories and stories like The Jungle Book.

Chapter 4: Defending the Predator: The Subtle Journey from Resurgence to Silence

What caused some Americans to starting fighting for the species they had been fighting for centuries? This narrative chapter introduces the table-turning effect of the environmental awakening in the 1960s. Aided by the migration of some packs in Canada, the timber wolves were resilient and created the first natural revival of the species. The comeback could hardly be considered flourishing, but the pack numbers remained steady and expanded back into parts of Wisconsin. This revival paired perfectly with the environmental awaking kick-started by Rachel Carson in the 1960’s and the Endangered Species List that was soon to follow. By 1970, select interest groups stood up for the wolves. Still, wolves in other parts of the country struggled, namely the Mexican gray wolf that faced extinction down by the US and Mexico border. Next, it details the fallout during the 1980s and the turn from environmental awareness. The chapter closes with the current situation today, including the open hunting of wolves and other predators in many states as well as the toll people are taking on the environment. The latter portion of the chapter is heavily sourced from current online publications and government documents.

 

Part 2

(The benefit of wolves to our ecosystem and what will happen if things do not change or worsen, and suggestions to sustain and grow the wolf population):

Chapter 5: A Natural Antidote: The Wolf’s Critical Role in Restoring the Environment

Why should people care about the plight of the wolves? This context chapter explains the positive impact wolves have on the ecosystem and therefore society: what impacts one species impacts another, and so on. It is extremely research and science-driven and includes a section on the transformation of Yellowstone after wolves were reintroduced. Yellowstone had experienced a 70-year absence of wolves. Upon their return, they triggered what is known as a trophic cascade. The occurred because the wolves brought balance to the grazing animal population, which, in turn, allowed the foliage to return in places where it was previously eradicated. When the herbivore populations were abundant, they had slowly begun eliminating other herbivores through competition due to lack of resources. Other predators found balance, too, as the coyote populations decreased and the foxes increased. The wolves’ kills also fed many scavenger species who are careful not to let carcasses go to waste. Humans benefit not only through the resurgence of national parks, but also through the cleaner air and increased vegetation.

Chapter 6: And Then There Was One: The Captivity Program and Reintroduction Challenges

After dropping to the point of extinction, how did wolves begin to make a comeback in the wild? How are they faring today? This continuing narrative chapter explains the process of reintroduction efforts from the mid-80s to the present. It still incorporates hard data like wolf populations throughout rehabilitation and the exact processes used by scientists and reintroduction experts, but it also continues the narrative by discussing on-going efforts today and the challenges wolves and their protectors face. Wolves have clearly made a comeback, but if the 300 million plus population in America today was weeded out to a meager 180,000, most people would not call it a success and stop efforts at 500,000. People have spent decades repairing the damage they caused to the wolves and their habitat only to still be hundreds of thousands away from the original population. It may be impractical at best and impossible at worst to believe there is a chance for the population to reach pre-settlement numbers, but at the rate environmental awareness is dropping in both popularity and funding, even the 5,000 wolves who have struggled to revive are increasingly at risk.

Chapter 7: The Magic Pack: The Return to Glacier National Park

What has rehabilitation been like for the wolves? This break-narrative chapter closely follows a specific wolf pack. The gray wolf was officially given protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1974, allowing recovery to begin in new territories once populated by wolves. The public realized, albeit too late, the damage they had done and the uphill battle they now faced. Rehabilitation of any species is a trying process, and the Mexican gray was not saved in time. The gray wolf subspecies was declared extinct in 1980. Four males and one female were captured prior to the demise in hopes of a successful captive-breeding program. The ESA was instrumental in assigning biologists to preserve the genetic stability and diversity of the Mexican gray wolf. Meanwhile, the northern gray wolves thrived under the new laws. Known as the “Magic Pack,” these wolves became a symbol of what the natural world was and inspired the love of thousands. It will encourage readers to view the wolves in a direct narrative and personal light as it illustrates the struggles of a reintroduced pack. Emphasizing the wolves’ names and their relationships should also show the readers a human side that they should not be able to detach from easily.

Chapter 8: An Alpine Line: The Tipping Point Between Man and the Natural World and Visions of Equilibrium

What does a world without wolves and a dying environment look like? And how do we stop it from happening? Is it the responsibility of the people to make the small day to day changes to protect the wolves, or does it simply require protesting and petitions, making it ultimately the responsibility of the lawmakers and industry leaders? The final chapter is a narrative that is strongly based on my own conclusions and projections given the history and research to this point. The chapter will open with specific actions that must be taken by the following groups: citizens, organizations, and the government. After the suggestions, it will paint the picture of two possible futures: one with wolves and one without. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring greatly inspires this, only it will be my personal views and consider the changes that have happened in the past 60 years since the first environmental awakening. I will end the chapter with the hypothetical future without wolves because I want that climax of emotion prior to my epilogue.

Epilogue

It reiterates the steps people must take on individual levels to better the future of the wolves and the environment (and, ultimately, ourselves). It is part conclusion and part call to action.

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