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on 7 August 2017
Everyone should read this
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on 12 December 2011
In his book, The Last Wolf, Jim Crumley explores the myths surrounding the extermination of the wolves in Scotland some 200 years ago. He states that the evidence is merely anecdotal and can't be relied upon. He also makes the case of the re-introduction of the wolf into Scotland, and details a wide variety of sources where wolves, either have been reintroduced, or are still part of the landscape. Especially the chapter about the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone is very convincing, particularly considering the impact the wolves have on the whole ecosystem. It is fairly convincing the suggest that this might have the same impact in Scotland, although, in my opinion, his theory is based a little bit too much on emotional reasoning.
Jim Crumley has a vast knowledge of nature and is a prolific nature writer, so this book is a welcome addition to the literature of nature and of wolves. However, I think this book can't be used to make a scientific or political case for the reintroduction of wolves into Scotland because, simply speaking, it is biased.
The book is packed with interesting facts and stories about wolves and their impact on the landscape. It is also very well written. I particularly enjoyed the chapters about a fictional wolf (The Last Wolf) roaming around Rannoch Moor. Very descriptive and atmospheric.
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on 15 February 2014
There is no doubt from reading this book that Jim Crumley loves wolves. Good, so do I. I do feel however that he lets this passion go a little too far, this book will tell you all about the good that wolves in Scotland could do - and there is no doubt IMO that they would do a LOT of good - but is slightly too dismissive of the counter arguments.

Wolves would make an utterly positive contribution to the wild ecological balance in Scotland. They would be good for the forests, good for the moors and - slightly counter intuitively - they would be very good for the Deer.

But. Scotland no longer has a real wild ecology and, IMO, there is no real prospect of ever restoring one. The geographical, economic and human interests are all stacked against it. Were we able to start again with a clean slate then wolves would have a vital place at the heart of that, but I don't think we can and I don't think the author does enough to address these issues. I also think Rannoch Moor would be a very odd place for a release, and the author doesn't really justify it - beyond that it would be a cool place to see a wolf.

Looking past these arguments however this book has much to commend it. it is very well written, it conveys real passion for it's subject and it is full of information. This is a book for everyone who has an interest in wolves and Scotland's wild places - at the very least it'll make you think about the issues. I found the fictional aspects of the book (where the author describes the landscape from an imaginary wolf's point of view) to be a bit jarring and out of place but I'm sure others would enjoy them.

Read it, think about the issues... and then back the plans to reintroduce lynxes :-)
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on 19 October 2011
Jim Crumley believes that wolves should be reintroduced in Scotland - specifically on Rannoch Moor. Crumley believes that without wolves acting as the top predator most northern ecosystems - many of which are now free of wolves - will never even approach their natural state in the future. Crumley believes that wolves are the only animal that allows us to reconnect to the wild state of nature.

The wolf has been demonised, the vast majority European folk wisdom about wolves is incorrect, and we can learn how would should think about wolves by listening to Native people who treat them differently to us. These are the assumptions which underlie these beliefs.

The clear passion with which he holds these interweaving beliefs flows though almost every page, and colours almost every sentence. While it is clear that he does has some sympathy for people who do not wish to see wolves on their land, he also seems to believe that this is just a matter of education. This is not a book with many shades of grey.

It is a wonderfully written polemic, advocating for the wolf in a way that is both persuasive and elegant. However, not everything in the book may be true.

Once the author has worked up a head of steam the words flow and I have to wonder if passion may have overcome accuracy in some sections. This especially true when he makes the bold assertions about being the only animal capable of reconnecting us with the wild. This is not a question about disconnection - but surely there must be more than one road to reconnection?

Despite my reservations about this aspect of the book I enjoyed the as a whole (hence the five stars). The passion is sustained, the vision one eyed. But it is a wonderful read.

I recommend it highly.
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on 16 September 2017
A great book by Jim Crumley and very expressive his views on how the last wolf may have disappeared from the UK. After all, how can anyone say when the last wolf truly disappeared just because none were seen after 1743? Wolves could have survived on in small numbers following that year in Scotland's wilder parts, away from human interference. The fact that wolves once lived wild in the UK has always fascinated me. Jim's description of a fictional lone female wolf wandering Rannoch Moor is a more true view of how Scotland's last wolf may have died. It's more likely that the few remaining wolves didn't have a viable breeding population which would have lead to their disappearance as well as the extensive hunting by the local farmers and hunters. He mentions various trees still growing today in the Highlands which would have existed with the wolf in Scotland.

I am a great supporter of wolf reintroduction to the UK. I'm of the opinion that wolves once survived very well in the UK wild and could do so again today. Jim Crumley's book proposes wolf reintroduction to Rannoch Moor where he argues that that's where the wolf most likely became extinct in the UK. His argument is that Rannoch Moor is part of Scotland's greater wilderness, away from people and with a viable red deer population. Although some may argue that Jim's views are biased and romantic, I think he has a strong case for his proposals as we no longer have any large carnivores in the UK to predate on the wild deer herds & other large herbivores living in the UK forests and woodlands.. The biggest hurdle to overcome are the farmers & political views on wolf reintroduction, not to mention hill walkers, dog walkers and so called sports people who go hunting deer, although I don't think sports people going out hunting deer for the fun of it have an argument. Wolves would keep deer moving, enabling young trees to grow again & this would enrich life for lots of other wildlife. Lets just get on with large carnivore reintroduction as other countries are doing it! As usual we talk too much in this country with little or no action undertaken.

What should be considered is that wolves are pack animals and most certainly could be a threat to farmers' livestock if their prey becomes scarce. Having said that, farmers would be liable to compensation for any livestock killed.

The beaver has now been reintroduced into the UK wild which is a very positive move. For decades wild boar have been living and breeding in several forests across the UK due to escapes/releases from boar farms & private collections. No shortage of prey for large carnivores then. And now applications have been made for a licence to release lynx into the UK wild for a 5 year trial period, another large carnivore extinct from the UK. I think we should definitely proceed with lynx reintroduction before reintroducing the wolf of which I fully support. Fingers crossed, the release of lynx is imminent and moves to reintroduce the wolf will follow. Lynx are solitary nocturnal hunters which also prey on deer. Once a viable lynx population has been re-established in the UK we can then start looking forward to wolf reintroduction. I do think Jim is right in his prediction and that the wolf's return is inevitable. Our forests & wilder places would become much more lively and exciting places to be! I do fully support Jim Crumley on UK wolf reintroduction! This book is a fantastic read and a positive view on how our wilder parts could and should be today! I fully recommend it!!!!

Chow Peeps & don't let the wolf's howls keep you awake at night. Chum chum!
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on 15 September 2016
Jim Crumley is without doubt one of my favourite nature writers. In the opening chapter of the book, we learn that wolves are the 'painters of mountains', and in my opinion, Jim Crumley is a painter of the natural world with words that describe a thousand visions of its wild denizens.

This is a wonderful book that challenges the ingrained fear and hatred of the wolf that has plagued our relationship with it. It utterly destroys the wolf's reputation as a murderous, blood-thirsty fiend of our past, and blows apart the many myths surrounding the many purported 'last wolf' stories we have accepted all too readily.

It then educationally and passionately instills the virtues of the wolf as a savior of ecosystems and a provider to all within. I was left in no doubt that our country is not just the poorer for having none, but absolutely needs them to return. I hope as Crumley does, that it is within my lifetime.

My only criticism is that Crumley's love affair of the wolf goes so far to admonish against accusing it of any conflict with man on its behalf at all, which isn't true. But given the injustice the wold has suffered at the hands of our misconception and fear, without cause, this is perhaps justified and understandable.

Also, at times the writing and viewpoint can be a little removed from both society at large (a good thing perhaps) and the real world (maybe not so much), and ventures a little too closely to poetic flights of fancy for my liking.

But the research, depth and challenging voice is one that takes us on a journey that is riveting, heart-breaking, frustrating and yet still hopeful. And I hope to hear more from Crumley soon.
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on 16 April 2016
This really interesting book gives great insight into the behaviour of wolves, the history of wolves in Scotland and the effect of a large predator on the ecology of Scotland. It is well written with a lightness that makes it easy to stick with it. There is a lot to like here,we meet people who live alongside wild wolves and see the changes that re-introduction can bring through their eyes. We travel to the wild areas of scotland where the last wolves roamed and we meet the wild wolves themselves and see the world through their eyes.
The Author has a point to prove though and I feel he paints things a little too black and white. His wolves are noble creatures– bringing only positive ecological benefits, restoring the Scottish highlands to there former glory. Those who portray the wolf as a dangerous menace are either far removed from the action and woefully misinformed or merely inventing tales of horror for a bloodthirsty audience. Historical accounts are dismissed as implausible exaggerations with a very one sided interpretation of the facts.
The factual portions of this book are interspersed with the imagined story of the actual last wolf, who died alone,faraway from the eyes of man. I get the point but it is a little too whimsical from my liking.
I did like this book though, it is a must read for anyone with an interest in the ecology of Scotland or a love of the wild. Even if I did end up in a different place from the author at the end.
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on 28 July 2016
Just a great read. One of the opening paragraphs, which I won't quote because I encourage you to buy it, was one of the finest and stirring I have read for years. Very informative and clearly well researched. This and the just released Mark Avery 'Inglorious' Inglorious should be on every animal conservationist's table - and they are great eye-openers into just what and why certain animals are nearly extinct etc.
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An interesting, alternative point of view from the Wolf bad, knee jerk response. I'd love to see this much maligned animal back in Scotlan,and helping to control our excessive Red Deer numbers, which are causing such devastation to native woodlands.
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on 17 August 2016
Haunting, brilliant, beautifully written from one of the best and unheralded nature writers living in the UK today. And Crumley makes the irrefutable case for brining back the Wolf into the Scottish Highlands.
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