“The Nine-mile Wolves” by Rick Bass Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Oct 16th, 2018


In the article “The Nine-mile Wolves”, Rick Bass makes the case for the continued protection of the wolf species of North America and Canada, viewing them as endangered species due to the combined forces of civilization, political necessity and even ignorance practiced by the citizens and leaders of these countries.

In the article, author Rick Bass, himself a writer and environmental activist, keen on the socio-economic and ecological functions that healthy and un-endangered species of wolves perform, argues that wolves should be left alone to breed and co-exist within their various territories in the wild.

Thus, Brass argues that wolves perform vital roles that, if eliminated, might upset current socio-cultural, economic and political balances. According to the author, wolves are the ultimate symbol of the vintage North American wilderness; they are significant tourist attractions, their predator role in the wild balances the ecosystem, and can co-exist with humans, therefore, they should be preserved and allowed to breed freely.

The Case for the Wolf: The Socio-Cultural, Economic and Biological Importance of the Wolf Species

The author portrays the wolf in colorful and humanistic language: he humanizes the wolves. The author depicts the wolf as native to North America in the very way that the Indian natives are. He argues that to attempt to eliminate the wolf under the guise of increased human settlement (Civilization) is to seek to eliminate a tremendously fundamental cultural symbol of the North American wild lands.

The author believes that the wolf represents the ultimate survival characteristics embodied by pioneers to the Americas, and thus the continued existence of the wolf symbolizes the undiminished adventurous and explorative spirit of the early settlers. The author thus develops an intimate relationship with the character and nature of the wolf that makes the reader to view the animal beyond its bare nature as a predator: in a warmer and almost human nature.

He describes the wolf as having teeth, long legs and “thundering hearts” (Bass 762). Similarly, he describes them as being pioneers and explorers, and the author even ascribes a soul to them (Bass 768). All these characterization of the wolf aims at endearing it to the reader and thus create a need to preserve the wolf species of North America.

Target Audience

Rick Bass ultimately addresses three sets of reader in his article: the common person, the politicians/bureaucrats and the biologists. To the common person, the author urges a more pro-active and learned approach towards the preservation of the wolf species. The author sites a 1990 poll that showed that two thirds of those polled were of the view that wolves should be preserved.

However, his ultimate concern is that increased human settlement is diminishing wolves’ numbers, together with the sad practice of hunting of wolves for pleasure by many citizens (Bass 764). Politicians are cautioned against creating and adopting polices that will endanger the existence of wolves, with the author stating that while wolves ought to chase after the deer, they instead had greedy politicians chasing after them (Bass 767).

The author’s ultimate message, however, targets the biologist and wild life agents at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&WS), whom he views as heroes for having saved the orphaned Nine-mile wolves, and from which his article draws its title (Bass 769). The author salutes the job that the organization does in preservation of endangered wolf species, thereby encouraging the common person and the politician to follow in the biologist’s example.


By painting a more intimate and almost human picture of the wild wolf, Rick Bass succeeds in portraying the wolf, and its characteristic socio-cultural, biological and economic roles, as momentous and inviolable. Therefore, the author ultimately succeeds in making the case for preservation of the wolf in the face of economic and political pressure against such an undertaking.

Works Cited

Bass, Rick. The Nine-Mile Wolves. New York: Mariner Books, 1992.

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