Book Review: The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

The planet has survived five mass extinctions, but it’s the sixth that we should be worried about. Elizabeth Kolbert’s wonderful book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History outlines the human impact on the globe by following researchers who are studying not only the past but today’s resources and species currently at risk, from the oceans …

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Book Review: Trash Animals

How we live with nature’s filthy, feral, invasive, and unwanted species

Kelsi Nagy and Phillip David Johnson II, editors

University of Minnesota Press, 2013

TrashAnimals

In this collected cross-section of stories and essays about trash animals — the loathed species we deem dirty or dangerous nuisances, such as pigeons and coyotes — the authors differ in subject matter and narrative focus, but they all have one thing in common. They ask that we see these animals in a new light.

Why is that so difficult? Mostly, as the authors argue, because we hate species who survive on our sloth, such as cockroaches and rats, who clean up after us. And we don’t much like animals who invade environments we have created for our own enjoyment, such as Canada Geese on golf courses, or coyotes in suburban yards. They can alter the landscape! They can destroy the land and the water!

What invasive, destructive species does that remind you of?

Unknown

Reading these pieces, I know I am as prejudice or blind as most. In the essay “See Gull,”

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Book Review – The Wildlife Detectives: How Forensic Scientists Fight Crimes Against Nature by Donna M. Jackson

The Wildlife Detectives: How Forensic Scientists Fight Crimes Against Nature by Donna M. Jackson is particularly intriguing for me as a resident of Ashland, Oregon—which is home to the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory. Open since 1989, this lab is the only full-service animal crime lab in the world, and all evidence of crimes …

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Siskiyou Prize update – new award, extended deadline

The winner of the Siskiyou Prize, in addition to a cash prize of $1,000 and book publication, will also receive a four-week residency at the PLAYA retreat in central Oregon. PLAYA is a nonprofit organization supporting innovative thinking through work in the arts, literature, natural sciences, and other fields of creative inquiry. On the edge of the Great Basin in central …

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Pity the predators. A review of Beasts by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

What happens when a predator becomes prey? Today, the animals we have long viewed as predators – lions and tigers, bears and sharks – are in some cases on the verge of extinction. And, thanks to science, we now know that these predators are not nearly so violent or dangerous as we were once told (or continue to tell ourselves). Nevertheless, we …

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Book Review – The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them by Wayne Pacelle

Wayne Pacelle’s The Bond is much more than its gentle title suggests. Rather than present a quaint book about the human-animal bond, Pacelle (president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States) takes readers through a complex history of the relationships among human and non-human animals, from farming to hunting to pets to wildlife. …

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Book Review: In the Temple of Wolves by Rick Lamplugh

Imagine. Three months in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, the place known as America’s Serengeti, lush with bison, elk, bear, coyotes, wolves and other wild beasts. This is where writer Rick Lamplugh and his wife Mary Strickroth choose to spend their winters, serving as volunteers at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, where seminars on the flora and fauna …

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Q&A with Barbara King, author of How Animals Grieve

 How Animals Grieve is an important book about the inner lives of animals. In April, author Barbara King was kind enough to answer of a few of my questions about the book and what inspired her to write it and how people have reacted to it so far. If you haven’t had a chance to …

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Book Review: Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures

It’s been wonderful to see new books about animal minds and emotions, from Barbara King’s How Animals Grieve to Virginia Morell’s Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures (Crown, 2013), which offers a fascinating look at the emotional lives of a wide range of animals. Morell writes that it was in part due …

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