Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
A wolf in the garden
Ideology and change in the Adirondack landscape
Alec Brownlow
In late March of 1995 a group of imported Canadian gray wolves (Canis lupus)
exited their makeshift pen and dashed hurriedly into the Lamar Valley of
Yellowstone National Park. The first wolf to trip the signal wire indicating to Park
Service wildlife officials that the wolves were 'free' was the capstone moment
following years of planning, lawsuits, death threats and general hostilities between
'pro' and 'anti' wolf groups around the region and nationally. It was an historic and
symbolic event, one that captivated the attention of the international public and
media. Experimental reintroductions 1 have now been repeated elsewhere in the US
(red wolves [Canis rufus] in North Carolina; Mexican gray wolves in Arizona). 2
Indeed, at the moment, stretches of 'wilderness' across the nation are being eyed by
wolf advocates as potential restoration sites.
The 'experiment' of wolf restoration into Yellowstone, however, has broader
social implications and exposes a set of complexities unidentified and unarticulated
in the general understanding of the term as it is defined legally. For this restoration
fundamentally (re-)created a space to be shared and occupied by an animal long
absent in the national landscape. Indeed, wildlife restoration, in general, constitutes
the material 'on the ground' manifestation of Wolch and Emel's (1995) recent call
to 'bring the animals back in': that is, (re-)creating a place for non-human 'others' in
the social realms of theory and space. As I show below, the restorationist's project of
'bringing the animals back in' presupposes necessarily an appropriate (ecological,
social, political) place for animals to be brought back into . This assumption
maintains the potential to be quite problematic when considered out of its historical
context and/or when considering the restoration of an animal as culturally and
symbolically embellished as the wolf is in North America.
In this chapter, I examine the recent designation of the Adirondack Mountains in
upstate New York as a potential release site for the gray wolf. This designation
marks a clear departure from past site selection processes, for the region is not
maintained as a national park, wilderness or other area commonly understood as
'protected' (void of human settlement and most human activity), but is, rather, a
region heavily settled with human communities maintaining intimate ties to the
Search WWH ::

Custom Search