cover image The Company of Wolves

The Company of Wolves

Peter Steinhart. Knopf Publishing Group, $27.5 (374pp) ISBN 978-0-679-41881-8

The most prevalent views of wolves are as a powerful symbol of wilderness and as a menace to game populations. Steinhart (Two Eagles--Dos Aguilas) explores the tangled relationships between wolf and human, fact and feeling, mythology and biology. Serious study of wolf predation began about 50 years ago, but it was Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf (1963) that redefined the animal in the public mind. Steinhart talked to ranchers, hunters, trappers, biologists, wildlife managers and people who keep wolves and wolf dogs. He leads us through the debates about reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone Park to serve as natural predators and looks at the North Carolina project where red wolves have been reintroduced. He discusses predation, wolf control in Alaska and hybridization. We learn that there is a DNA test to distinguish definitively between wolves and coyotes, but none for wolves and dogs. One of the fascinating things about wolves and humans is the similarity between their societies. Steinhart makes an eloquent case for preserving wolves, who are intelligent creatures. This belongs on the shelf next to Barry Lopez's Of Wolves and Men. (May)