Wildness in a Modern Age – The Reintroduction of Wolves to the Landscape with Brenda Peterson

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There are some successful programs to reintroduce wild wolves into their natural habitat in the U.S. This keystone species recovery activity is a long game and there remains much opposition to this movement, at least some of which stems from our mythological view of wolves as standing for all that is vicious, dangerous, and savage. Peterson outlines the uphill battle that this endangered species is undergoing. She shares many stories, including her experience of the capturing, transferring, and release of a wolf pack into the wild. She reminds us that Jacques Cousteau once said that people protect what they love, and she encourages us to become intimate with the wild: “If you don’t have intimacy with the wild, if you don’t get out into the woods, if you don’t get out into the oceans, if you don’t have a sense that there is this natural, beautiful, wondrous world out there that you can be intimate with, then you are losing what it is to be human. Acquaint yourself with others who don’t mirror us, who we don’t domesticate, who don’t serve us. Loving that, I think, is a much higher form of love.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Brenda Peterson is a novelist, nature writer, and writing teacher. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Orion Magazine, and O: The Oprah Magazine. She’s a regular commentator for Seattle NPR and the Huffington Post.

Brenda Peterson is the author of eighteen books, including:

To learn more about the work of Brenda Peterson go to www.brendapetersonbooks.com.

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How growing up in the Sierra Nevada in the Plumas National Forest taught Peterson to love what was wild and untamed
  • What is a keystone species and why is it important to the health of an ecosystem
  • What is the trophic cascade theory and how does it improve an ecosystem
  • What is the complex society that makes up a wolf pack
  • Why is calling someone a “lone-wolf” not based on the reality of wolf family values
  • How male and female wolves share in leading a pack
  • Who was Aldo Leopold and how did he change from being a tracker to being an advocate for wolves
  • Why are animals important to a mountain
  • What is the story of OR7, the seventh wolf to be radio collared
  • What is the significance of the wolf song
  • Why has the Supreme Court ruled that domesticated dogs, but not wild animals, are sentient beings
  • What is the kinship system as practiced by indigenous cultures

Host: Justine Willis Toms          Interview Date: 3/24/2017         Program Number: 3611

Music Playlist

From Album: Paul Winter and Friends Greatest Hits (Special Edition) (Download only) 

Opening Essay: Track 12 Wolf Eyes (New Recording)
Music Break 1: Track 12 Wolf Eyes (New Recording) (reprise)
Music Break 2: Track 13 Sax-Wolf Duet

Music Break 3: Mix of PBS NOVA Solo Wolf Howl http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/wolves/howl.html and Wolf Harmonies from New York Wolf Conservation Center http://nywolf.org