5 minute read

Bobbie Holaday (1922-)


Bobbie Holaday told SATA: "Throughout my life I had written poems, and was voted class poet in my senior years in high school and college. I dreamed of becoming a professional writer, but shelved such dreams when faced with raising two daughters on my own. Employment with large corporations ensured a stable income not found with freelance writing. Following retirement in 1986, my involvement with environmental causes excluded my pursuit of serious writing other than poetry until 1998 when I began my narrative of the return of the Mexican wolf. It is my hope that Return of the Mexican Gray Wolf: Back to the Blue will not only provide an accurate account of my work to bring back this wolf, but will also show others, particularly seniors, that one persistent person's efforts can make a difference.

"Most of my first draft of the book was written in long hand while I was camped at Luna Lake, near Alpine, Arizona. With no phone or television to distract me, I could focus my thoughts to putting on paper my experiences of the preceding eleven years. I later entered the book's text onto my computer, where it underwent a series of revisions over the next two years. My most creative writing efforts took place during daytime hours when I would work in two-hour bursts.

"No one had recorded the struggle faced by biologists and wolf advocates when they attempted to return the Mexican gray wolf from near extinction to his historic habitat. I felt such a book was needed to let people know the obstacles that had to be overcome to enable wolf recovery. Authors like L. David Mech, Rick McIntyre, and Mike Phillips have written excellent wolf books. However, no ordinary citizen who voluntarily supported wolf recovery had previously documented his/her experiences. There are many authors who have researched wolf projects like the placement of Canadian wolves into Yellowstone National Park and Idaho wilderness, and have produced enjoyable books on the subject. The majority of these authors were wildlife biologists or employees of wildlife conservation organizations. Their books provide valuable information with perspectives quite different from a non-professional senior citizen.

"For anyone wanting to become a published author, you must enjoy the creative exercise of writing. You must endure many hours of isolation devoted to writing your story. With nonfiction you must be prepared to conduct research and interviews to complete your text. Once written, finding a publisher for your work is no easy chore. Most publishers reject more queries and proposals than they accept, so it is important that you produce a compelling query letter and a winning proposal. Worthwhile correspondence courses are available to teach you how to produce these important documents. As a first-time author, when you snag a publisher, you will face a new set of challenges, both painful and educational. Just swallow your pride and accept the fact that the editors are usually right in their decisions. Once your book is printed and you find yourself signing copies for eager readers, you'll reap the rewards for all of your efforts."

Holaday has been cited by the Sierra Club and the Defenders of Wildlife Conservation for her work as an environmentalist. At a time when many people retire to a sedentary lifestyle, Holaday took up hiking and discovered an avocation that led her to work tirelessly to compromise the interests of farmers and ranchers with that of the wild wolves and wilderness areas that were needed for their survival. Her first success was to spearhead the designation of Arizona's Hellsgate region as a wilderness area. She later worked to have the Eagletail Mountains included in the Bureau of Land Management's Desert Wilderness Act of 1990. Holaday's most visible work, however, has been that of restoring Mexican wolves to their former habitat in eastern Arizona. It is this effort that she chronicles in her first-person account, Return of the Mexican Gray Wolf: Back to the Blue. Holaday was the founder of Preserve Arizona's Wolves (P.A.W.S.), a nonprofit organization dedicated to returning wolves to certain wilderness preserves. The organization raised money for lobbying purposes and also helped to educate Arizona's residents about wolves, their needs, and their place in the ecosystem. It was not necessarily easy to convince the livestock ranchers to live with wolves near their properties. On the Arizona Wild Web site, Holaday recalled: "Working to get that wilderness was mild compared to what I put myself through with the wolves. The challenges with that campaign very often brought me to tears, but this critter needs a voice, and I was determined to be that voice."

In 1998 Holaday helped to carry the cages of three Mexican wolves to an acclimatization pen in Arizona. She was there when they entered the preserve and has charted their efforts to survive in the wild ever since. Return of the Mexican Gray Wolf ends on a hopeful note, as the wolves begin to breed and to prey upon wild species within their wilderness area. As Sandy Bahr observed of the book in the Sierra Club magazine, "The story [Holaday] tells demonstrates how one person really can make a difference, punctuated with examples of how people working together can make an even bigger difference." In her Booklist review of Return of the Mexican Gray Wolf, Nancy Bent concluded: "Teen wolf lovers will be fascinated by the endangered species story."

Holaday is in her eighties but still working hard for the wolves and other Arizona environmental issues. "The fire is still there," she said on the Campaign for America's Wilderness Web site. "I always try to keep focused on any goal I'm trying to achieve. I'm passionate and feel driven to achieve my goals. It makes me feel good to know that I will be leaving a heritage—something far more valuable than monetary treasures—these wilderness areas and having wolves in our forests. You can't put a price on hearing a wolf howl."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, September 1, 2003, Nancy Bent, review of Return of the Mexican Gray Wolf: Back to the Blue, p. 35.

Columbian, January 27, 1998, Kate Hunger, "Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduced to the Wild Decades after Demise."

Sierra Club, January/February, 2004, Sandy Bahr, "A Noble Goal and a Good Story," p. 8.


Arizona Wild, http://www.AZWild.org/ (June 2, 2004), "Redefining the Radical Environmentalist."

Campaign for America's Wilderness, http://www.leaveitwild.org/newsletter/ (March, 2004), "Bobbie Holaday: A Natural Wilderness Champion."

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: James Heneghan (1930-) Biography - Personal to Rick Jacobson Biography - PersonalBobbie Holaday (1922-) Biography - Career, Sidelights - Personal, Addresses, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress