Wolves became extinct in Scotland around 1743. This book explores the legends about how they may have finally disappeared from our landscape and proposes that for the Highlands to return to their natural state wolves need to be re-introduced.
The tone is often polemical and sometimes sentimental. The real power though comes from the author's observations about how wolves changed the landscape and ecosystems for the better when they were re-introduced into Yellowstone.
For example, the elk herds (the wolves main prey species) in Yellowstone have become way of wolves and so no longer linger in the same place for so long, meaning that they no longer tend to eat the vegetation so much, creating a more diverse and attractive landscape covered in bush and scrub and allowing trees more chance to grow to maturity. For this reason, the author describes wolves as the painters of landscapes.
According to this book, there is ample room in the Highlands of Scotland for between one and three packs of wolves. They would keep down the number of red deer and help the ancient Caledonian forest to regenerate. There would almost certainly be strenuous opposition from farmers, game keepers and a fair proportion of the general public.
Oddly when I was walking by the Water of Leith earlier this week, I saw two separate large dogs, that from a distance looked like wolves, trotting along by the river. Wolves wouldn't be introduced to the Water of Leith, it's too urban an area, but the sight made me imagine the wolves rightfully back in the Scottish Highlands.
The Last Wolf by Jim Crumley published by Birlinn.