Matt's Reviews > The New Wolves: The Return of the Mexican Wolf to the American Southwest

The New Wolves by Rick Bass
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's review
Jul 03, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: natural, nonfiction, didactic, environment
Recommended to Matt by: Joey Beatty
Recommended for: those interested in environment/conversation advocates, animal mysticism, modern vs. ancient
Read from July 03 to 11, 2011 — I own a copy

My first Rick Bass reading. A perfect mesh of interests for me, since I am already very interested in the gray wolves in the Rockies, their fates intertwined with the various states, and their levels of recovery in different areas.

Bass steps through the reintroduction of Mexican wolves (lobos), from the Endangered Species Act to those whom the wolves may affect (ranchers), to the volunteers and activists taking part in the reintroduction efforts. He lends an element of mysticism and spirit, even animism, to the land and to the wolves. This is woven throughout, not heavyhanded, just his sentiments that the land itself desires what it once had, a complete ecosystem and food chain, natural wild predators. And that when the land and its environment and surroundings are complete, everything (and everyone) benefits. It is a healthy support system.

The book references the studies related to reintroduction, and notes that a lot of guesswork has to go into it, since there was no real documented behaviors or studies of the lobos before we stripped them from the land. Bass's biases are obvious--but this book will mostly invite reads from those with a similar mindset.

I recommend this. A fast read, a nice succinct view into real conservation efforts that are happening today, and that have science, government, and good people behind them.

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Some of my favorite quotes (of which there were many):

"wolves will make it back to this land because the land desires it" (31)

"I need wilderness, big wilderness, as an antidote to my sins--a place to say, Here I will finally devour nothing" (104)

"if the land is sick, nothing on top of it can truly be vital or healthy" (73)

"I wonder: are we having radicalism bred out of us? What does it say for us when the idea of having one hundred Mexican wolves free in the world again is deemed radical?" (91)

"Everything writes sentences: rivers, streams, wind currents, elk herds, migrating geese, wolves. Everything has a voice. Some voices are merely less audible than others. We ignore them at our peril; in shunning the lessons of history we embrace ignorance, we fail to take advantage of guidelines for the future. Our stories, our lives, our cultures sag and fracture into gibberish and monosyllabic chants of *More, more more*. [...] we are running out of the thing that once sustained us: a certain spirit and imagination upon the land, and certain stories told to us by that land." (121)

"There are no neat stories in nature, no tidy closures with beginning, middle, and end; no epiphanies. There is only ongoing process, continuous struggle." (158)

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07/05/2011 page 33
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