American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West
By Nate Blakeslee
I heard about this book while attending a webinar about historically noteworthy women in Yellowstone National Park. It tells the tale of O-Six, an alpha female wolf who lived in the region. You may have heard about her--she became pretty famous in 2012 because of the politics surrounding her death. The “sanitization” and subsequent conservation of the wolf population in our country is one of the most dramatic stories around!
While I learned volumes about the complexity of social dynamics amongst the wolf population (and there’s some crazy stuff to learn!), I also grew acquainted with the people who watch, hunt, and live as neighbors to those packs. As someone who has spent the majority of her life on the East Coast, Midwest, or living abroad, I was eager to witness the impact of the government’s pattern of “selling access to the West’s rich resources.” As Blakeslee articulates, “residents of a place like Idaho, where fully two-thirds of the land is federally owned, don’t make decisions about how the resources in their own backyards should be used. Instead...people all over the country...feel that they should have a say in how the West is managed, because it belongs to them just as much as anybody who actually lives there” (128).
As we’ve seen with other Book Club selections, our relationships with public land should necessarily be complicated. The concepts of land “ownership” and “control” are fraught with damaging implications. I benefited greatly from absorbing another perspective through this story. If you’re interested in talking about it more, send me a message at email@example.com.