Saving the Wolves

Gibbon wolf pack standing on snow;
Doug Smith; March 2007

The return of 14 gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 after a 70-year absence was controversial, but I was too busy raising my boys to pay much attention to the dispute then. But three years ago, I watched a short video by Sustainable Human called “How Wolves Change Rivers” that made a big difference in how I viewed the inclusion of the wolves in their native habitat. Recently I also read American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West, an exceptional book—both in information and readability—that follows the lives of wolves and their fans and foes during the rewilding of the Park and its aftermath.

According to Macmillan Dictionary, rewilding is

a form of conservation which aims to return areas of land to their natural wild state, especially by bringing back animal species that used to live there.

Yellowstone is not the only area that has been rewilded, and wolves are not the only species to be reintroduced. The reason why rewilding is necessary is usually human interference, and sometimes humans are needed to help reverse the negative effects of our behavior. Since the rewilding of the gray wolf, the ecology of the entire park as changed for the better, affecting not just the elk population as was expected, but also beaver, songbirds, ravens, and willows and other plant life.

The list below focuses mainly on the gray wolf and includes thought-provoking books for readers from elementary students to adults.



Gray Wolf (Back from Near Extinction) by Tammy Gagne. 9781680784671. 2017. Gr 3-6.

Journey : Based on the True Story of OR7, the Most Famous Wolf in the West by Emma Bland Smith (ill. by Robin James). 9781632170651. 2016. Gr K-3.

The Return of the Gray Wolf (Bouncing Back from Extinction) by Caitie McAneney. 9781508156185. 2017. Gr 4-6.

The Wolves Are Back by Jean Craighead George (ill. by Wendell Minor). 9780525479475. 2008. Gr K-3.

The Wolves Return by Celia Godkin. 9781772780116. 2017. Gr 1-4.


Middle & High School


Journey : The Amazing Story of OR-7, the Oregon Wolf That Made History by Beckie Elgin. 9781629013992. 2016. Gr 6-12.

Mission : Wolf Rescue (National Geographic Kids Mission) by Kitson Jazynka & Daniel Raven-Ellison. 9781426314957. 2014. Gr 5-8.

Rewilding : Giving Nature a Second Chance by Jane Drake & Ann Love. 9781554519620. 2017. Gr 6-9.


Adult Crossover


American Wolf : A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee. 9781101902783. 2017. Gr 11-Adult.

The Wisdom of Wolves : Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack by Jim & Jamie Dutcher. 9781426218866. March 2018. 11-Adult.

A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans. 9780544228092. 2015. Gr 11-Adult.

Wolf Nation : The Life, Death, and Return of Wild American Wolves by Brenda Peterson. 9780306824937. 2017. Gr 11-Adult.

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