Since 1995, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released Canadian gray wolves into Yellowstone National Park as part of its wolf recovery program, reintroduction has been widely challenged in public forums and sensationalized in the media. This conflict has pitted western ranchers and property rights activists against environmental groups, highlighting starkly contrasting political perspectives. In this informed account, Martin A. Nie examines not only the future of wolf recovery but also the issues that will define debates around the politics of wildlife management, animal rights issues, and other flash points. The result is a revelatory look at the way the democratic process works when the subject is an environmental hot-button issue.
Examining the wolf recovery program from a policy-making perspective, Nie looks at programs in Alaska, the Lake Superior region, the Northern Rockies, the Southwest, and New England and upstate New York. He analyzes the social, political, and cultural backdrop in the areas in which wolves have been reintroduced and explores such contentious issues as the role of science in public policy; the struggle between wilderness protection, resource management, and private property; and the use of stakeholders in environmental conflicts.
For Nie, the debate over wolf recovery is above all a value-based political conflict that should take place in a more inclusive, participatory, and representative democratic arena. Wolves, Nie writes, are an important indicator species both biologically and politically, and in Beyond Wolves, he tells an important story of wolves and people, place and politics, that resonates far beyond the fate of America's most misunderstood inhabitants.
Martin A. Nie is assistant professor of natural resource policy in the School of Forestry at the University of Montana.
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