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SunLit Interviews

Interview: “The Last Stand of the Pack” co-editor Andrew Gulliford views writing on wolves an “ecological necessity”

Decades after the last known wolf in Colorado was killed, the controversy over reintroduction rages on

An illustration from "The Last Stand of the Pack: Critical Edition." (Handout)

Andrew Gulliford, co-editor of the book “The Last Stand of the Pack: Critical Edition,” is a professor of history and environmental studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango.

He has twice won the Colorado Book Award and the Arizona–New Mexico Book Award. He is also the author of “America’s Country Schools,” “Sacred Objects and Sacred Places,” and “Boomtown Blues” and editor of “Preserving Western History” and “Outdoors in the Southwest: An Adventure Anthology.”

“The Last Stand of the Pack” co-editor Tom Wolf is also the author of “Ice Crusaders,” “Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains,” “In Fire’s Way,” “Arthur Carhart,” and “La Guadalupana.” Wolf has taught at Brandeis University and Colorado College and worked for the National Park Service, the Wyoming Outdoor Council, and The Nature Conservancy.

The following interview was with Andrew Gulliford:

What inspired you to work on this book?

Wolves have been an important ecological component in Colorado’s diverse landscape. I wanted to learn why we had trapped, shot, poisoned and killed them in the 1920s and whether or not we should bring them back.

Who are your favorite authors and/or characters?

My favorite authors include Ed Abbey, Aldo Leopold, Terry Tempest Williams, and other champions of the environment. Arthur Carhart wrote the first edition of “The Last Stand of the Pack” and he needs to be recognized as a major Colorado conservationist.

Why did you choose this excerpt to feature in SunLit?

This excerpt/feature from the book is important because 63-70 percent of Coloradans favor wolf re-introduction in our state yet the State Wildlife Commission has voted three times against it. Bringing wolves back would help restore our ecosystem and bring millions to the state for wolf tourism. Funds could be set aside for paying ranchers back for any wolf depredations.

Co-editor Andrew Gulliford. (Handout)

What was the most fun or rewarding part of working on this book?

Writing about wolves is an ecological necessity and very rewarding. The public needs to know why we have hated wolves so much and why, in the 21st century, we should reconsider our actions.

What was the most difficult section to write in this book?

“The Last Stand of the Pack: Critical Edition,” co-edited by Andrew Gulliford and Tom Wolf.

The most difficult section in “The Last Stand of the Pack,” which was originally published in 1929, is the chapters that describe specific wolves which had nicknames and how professional trappers, wolfers, sought them out and eventually killed them.

Those last wolves, however, were old and smart and the book describes in detail how they eluded trappers. It also anthropomorphizes wolves as evil creatures when in fact they killed livestock because Colorado elk and deer, prey populations, had been severely reduced by overhunting and poaching.

What was one interesting fact you learned while researching this book?

An interesting fact learned while researching this book was the date the last wolf was killed in Colorado, which was 1945 along the Conejos River in the far southern section of the state.

What project are you working on next?

I have now begun book-length research on national monuments and their importance to the American people. The legal issues of whether one president can shrink another president’s national monument boundaries goes to the heart of our public land preservation in the West.


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Buy “The Last Stand of the Pack: Critical Edition” at BookBar.
Excerpt: “The Last Stand of the Pack: Critical Edition.”

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