Restoring the Balance
What Wolves Tell Us about Our Relationship with Nature
Author – John A. Vucetich
Wolves on a wilderness island illuminate lessons on the environment, extinction, and life.
For more than a quarter century, celebrated biologist John Vucetich has studied the wolves, and the moose that sustain them, of the boreal forest of Isle Royale National Park, an island in the northwest corner of Lake Superior. During this time, he has witnessed both the near extinction of the local wolf population, driven largely by climate change, and the intensely debated relocation of other wolves to the island in an effort to stabilize and maintain Isle Royale’s ecosystem health. In Restoring the Balance, Vucetich combines environmental philosophy with field notes chronicling his day-to-day experience as a scientist. Examining the fate of wolves in the wild, he shares lessons from these wolves and explains their impact on humanity’s fundamental responsibilities to the natural world.
Vucetich’s engaging narrative and unique, clear-eyed perspective provide an accessible course in wolf biology and behavioral ecology. He tackles profound unresolved questions that will shape our future understanding of what it means to be good to life on earth: Are humans the only persons to inhabit Earth, or do we share the planet with uncounted nonhuman persons? What does a healthy relationship with the natural world look like? Should we intervene in nature’s course in order to care for it? Touching on the triumph and tragedy of how wolves kill moose to the Shakespearian drama of wolves’ social lives, Vucetich comments on ravens, mice, winter ticks, and even a life-changing encounter he shared with a toad.
Vucetich produces exquisite insight by masterfully connecting his observations to a far-reaching history of ideas about the environment. Combining natural history and memoir with fascinating commentary on humanity’s relationship with nature, Restoring the Balance evokes our connections with wolves as fellow apex predators, demonstrating how our shifting views on nature have implications for both their survival and ours. This book will be treasured by any thoughtful reader looking to deepen their relationship with nature and learn about the wolves of Isle Royale along the way.