At the end of my book, The Synthetic Age, I told a story about a worker killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. In a book about the desire to re-engineer our surroundings, I wanted to emphasize that every reach for control falls short. The biological world still startles us. It retains the power to push back against our best-laid plans.
My new book explores these thoughts much further. Tenacious Beasts is filled with hope about wildlife recoveries. It profiles a handful of species recovering against the odds and asks what they can teach. Wolves in Europe, bison on America’s Great Plains, and humpback whales in the Pacific and North Atlantic are among the species experiencing spectacular comebacks. Through interviews, site visits, and detailed research, I explore how these recoveries have happened.
Returning animals can be uplifting, but they also challenge us. They make demands on those accustomed to living without them. They force changes in perspective and shifts in values. Few still think it appropriate to slaughter wildlife without a qualm. On farmland, prairie, rivers, forests, and oceans, I investigate what a twenty-first-century concept of wildlife might look like.
This book charts the contours of an optimistic future with wildlife. It envisions a fresh way to exist alongside the natural world. Tenacious Beasts is a blend of optimism and surprise about a future lived alongside our animal kin.
Image by Garrett Lau via Flickr
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