256 pages, 24 b/w photos, 2 b/w illustrations, 2 b/w maps
Red wolves are shy, elusive, and misunderstood predators. Until the 1800s, they were common in the longleaf pine savannahs and deciduous forests of the southeastern United States. However, habitat degradation, persecution, and interbreeding with the coyote nearly annihilated them. Today, reintroduced red wolves are found only in peninsular northeastern North Carolina within less than 1 percent of their former range. In The Secret World of Red Wolves, nature writer T. DeLene Beeland shadows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's pioneering recovery program over the course of a year to craft an intimate portrait of the red wolf, its history, and its restoration. Her engaging exploration of this top-level predator traces the intense effort of conservation personnel to save a species that has slipped to the verge of extinction.
Beeland weaves together the voices of scientists, conservationists, and local landowners while posing larger questions about human coexistence with red wolves, our understanding of what defines this animal as a distinct species, and how climate change may swamp its current habitat.
"Fascinating, a must-read for both scientific and popular audiences."
– Wolf Print
"The first complete telling of the comeback of the red wolf [...] The combination of first-person immediacy interwoven with red wolf history will delight animal lovers."
"Fascinating and beautifully written. Beeland covers the red wolf in an engaging and clear manner, and the action is page-turning. An important resource for scholars of wildlife and the environmental movement."
– Laura Helmuth, science and health editor, Slate magazine
"This excellent history makes clear the verdict that lies immediately ahead: the red wolf saved, America's triumph; the red wolf lost, America's shame."
– Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
"Beeland brings the red wolf and its world – weird, wild howl and all – to splendid life. This elusive, beautiful, and beleaguered animal has found a teller worthy of its tale."
– David Dobbs, author of Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral
"A fascinating journey to the threatened world of the red wolf. DeLene Beeland provides readers with the intriguing story of these mysterious predators and the people working to preserve their precarious survival."
– Dan Vergano, USA Today
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T. DeLene Beeland is a nature and science writer living in Asheville, N.C. Her work has appeared in the Charlotte Observer and Wildlife in North Carolina, among other publications.