Monday, May 16, 2016

Re-wilding Wolves In Cumbria

Of course I picked up this book based on the cover and its summary. Sarah Hall's 'The Wolf Border'. About wolves, Cumbria, conservation, sabotage. Sold. It seems to allude to the idea done at the Alladale Wilderness Reserve in the Scottish Highlands which is currently owned by English multimillionaire Paul Lister. (Reviews here, here and here.)

British-born zoologist Rachel Caine finally returns to England from a wolf-conservation project in an Idaho reservation, half fleeing a botched relationship which has resulted in her newborn son Charlie, and half intrigued by the work offered by The Earl of Annerdale- Thomas Pennington. Lord Pennington wishes to re-wild wolves on his estate in the Lake District and re-introduce the grey wolf to England.

The breeding program of was successful and resulted in a litter of pups. The wolf pack escaped, not entirely due to the lack of security. We follow the public's opinions and encounters with the wolf pack. The border issue between Scotland and England is mentioned, but this is fiction, so it isn't dwelled upon, merely used as a source to lend further development to the storyline. The issues of public acceptance and protests are included as well. There's also this matter of Rachel not entirely liking her boss Lord Pennington, or his methods of achieving his goals.

Although there's the side arc to the relationships with her colleagues, and with her recently deceased estranged and emotionally-exhausting mother Binny and half-brother Lawrence, the story is less focused on the humans, I feel, than just Rachel herself. The story is more about Rachel and her work, and wolves, and broadly, the acceptance of the current state of things in her personal life. Totally enjoyed the author's narrative and voice through her words.

At reconnaissance altitude the view was spectacular, distracting him from his fear. Snow on the Grampians, rank after rank of hard white peaks stretching out, a serious version of the Cumbrian uplands, steel-blue tarns and lochs, trout and salmon burns. Here and there, tucked-away settlements, a miniature white palace with towers, the old Glencoe ski lift looping up and over to the runs, and the winding roads made famous by song. 
The transmitters were still working; the telemetry signal started beeping ten minutes into the flight and they were quickly found, cutting through a narrow valley, strung one behind the other. Dark-backed and long-legged, their tails shaggy. The plane flew over, looped around, following their trajectory. She and Lawrence watched as the four wolves loped onto the outskirts of Rannoch, its turf still bloody from autumn, as if battle-worn; the red bracken beginning to disappear under the first low-lying drifts. The pilot had looked over his shoulder and put his thumb up. 
Fàilte, he'd said.

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