Bringing Back the Wolves: How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem by Jude Isabella, illustrated by Kim Smith

Published by Kids Can Press

Bringing Back the Wolves: How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem ...

Bringing Back the Wolves in 2020

Summary:  In 1995, nearly 70 years after they had disappeared due to hunting, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park.  The results provide a fascinating study on how changing the top of the food chain affects all kinds of species in an ecosystem.  The first and most obvious change was that elk, which had multiplied without a natural predator, were now being hunted for the first time in years.  As their numbers went down, the trees they had eaten were allowed to grow.  Bigger trees meant that beavers were able to return to the park in greater numbers.  Coyotes got bumped down from the top of the food chain to the middle, lowering their numbers and allowing more smaller animals to thrive…which in turn attracted more birds of prey.  The book also briefly touches on other factors such as drought and fire that also affected the ecosystem.  Today there are more than 500 wolves in Yellowstone, balance has been restored, and scientists have had the opportunity to study the effects of reintroducing an apex predator.  Includes a glossary, additional resources, and an index.  40 pages; grades 3-6.

Pros:  I was planning to read this book in small chunks (I’m reading some books on my phone these days), but the story was so fascinating that I finished it in one sitting.  The text is engagingly written and the illustrations add to the information, not only with pictures of the various animals but diagrams showing how they are connected to each other.

Cons:  Several sidebars were labeled “It’s Elemental”, which I think referred to other elements besides the wolves that affected the ecosystem, but it wasn’t 100% clear.

If you would like to order this book from the Odyssey Bookshop, click here.

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