cover image Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries That Change How We Think About Animals

Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries That Change How We Think About Animals

Christopher J. Preston. MIT, $29.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-262-04756-2

In this rewarding study, environmental philosophy professor Preston (The Synthetic Age) provides reason to be hopeful about endangered species. He digs into the rehabilitation of such animals as bison and chinook salmon to suggest how humans might better accommodate them, such as by embracing beaver dams, which are often more effective in rejuvenating habitats than human intervention. Preston recounts accompanying researchers to study how a hunting moratorium has allowed humpback whales off the coast of Alaska to flourish, and he suggests that humans should see whales as “partners in the climate change struggle” because their consumption of phytoplankton, which “suck carbon out of the water,” reduces carbon levels. He details the comeback that wolves made in Europe and encourages reader to see as “heroic” the travails of a female wolf who in 2018 left her pack in Berlin and became the first wolf to live in Belgium in over a century, before likely getting killed by hunters. Though Preston mostly stays upbeat, he’s clear-eyed about the need for meaningful change, contending that “we need greater tolerance for the company of nonhumans, thinking of them not as adversaries but as kin with common goals.” The surprisingly intimate accounts of species bouncing back from the brink of extinction serve as glimmers of hope against the backdrop of climate despair. This will hearten nature lovers. (Feb.)