It’s official—my book, The Secret World of Red Wolves: The Fight to Save North America’s Other Wolf, is out. Finally. What a trek it’s been to get to this day!
If you pick up a copy, this is what you’ll find on the inside jacket: Red wolves are shy, elusive, misunderstood predators. Until the 1800s, they were common in the longleaf pine savannas and deciduous forests of the southeastern United States. But red wolves were nearly annihilated by habitat degradation, persecution, and interbreeding with the coyote. Today, reintroduced red wolves are found only on peninsular northeastern North Carolina within less than one percent of their former historic range. In The Secret World of Red Wolves, nature writer T. DeLene Beeland shadows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s pioneering program over the course of a year to craft an intimate portrait of the red wolf, its natural history, and its restoration. Her engaging portrait of this top-level predator traces the intense effort of conservation personnel to restore 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 the only place it is currently found in the wild.
This book was a journey in every sense of the word: physically, emotionally, and intellectually. The idea for a tome on red wolves was born at the intersection of my curiousity about native southeastern animals, my love for wild predators, and the plain fact that there was a gaping hole in the literature which was simply waiting to be filled . . . and the gravitational pull of that hole kept drawing me further and further in. (That may be the only good reason to ever write a book; if you absolutely can’t live with yourself otherwise!)
I wrote this book specifically for lay people — people who, like me, love wildlife and mammals in particular, and who want to know more about native species. People who are interested in why it is that some animals become endangered, what’s being done to help them, and what kinds of challenges conservation programs face. Although this book incorporates a great deal of research on red wolves, readers needn’t be wildlife specialists or biologists to understand the information discussed. They need only possess a good dose of curiosity and a hunger to learn.