Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pelicans vs Skimmers: How do You Encourage Biophilia?

Moderated by Jim Siegel, FWS - NCTC

In his essay, “The Extinction of Experience,” Robert Michael Pyle uses metaphor to describe two very different approaches to engaging nature: the Brown pelican dives into the ocean with its whole body when seeking a fish, but the Black skimmer gracefully flies along the surface of the sea, fishing with only its bottom beak in the water.  Pyle says human engagement of nature often reflects the style of one bird or the other:

“In my view, most people who consider themselves nature lovers behave more like skimmers than pelicans.  They buy the right outfits at L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer, carry field guides, and take walks on nature trails, reading all the interpretive signs.  They watch the nature programs on television, shop at the Nature Company, and pay their dues to the National Wildlife Federation or the National Audubon Society.  These activities are admirable, but they do not ensure truly intimate contact with nature.  Many such "naturalists" merely skim, reaping a shallow reward....How can we engage our biophilia?”

In the conservation field, we work with people on a daily basis.  We may interact in different capacities – some of us in large office complexes, some of us in the field or on a refuge.  How do you leverage these interactions to cultivate your own inner pelican? In what ways are you helping others shift beyond “skimming” nature so they can more deeply connect with what’s wild? 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Introducing Robert Michael Pyle

Our next essay, titled "The Extinction of Experience," was written by a well-known nature writer as part of his book The Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland. Robert Michael Pyle was born in Denver in 1946 and now lives in Grays River, Washington. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Washington, and his M. Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale. He is a respected lepidopterist who wrote The Audubon Society Guide to the Butterflies of North America along with a number of books about nature.

To learn more about Robert Michael Pyle, watch this 15 minute video interview by the North Cascades Institute.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Disturbing the Universe" by Author Betsy Hilbert

Commentary by Debbie Beer

To act or not to act, that is the question.  Even in a situation that might seem hopeless – saving threatened sea turtles on the beaches of bustling Miami – author BetsyHilbert overcomes thoughts about the futility of her work, and decides that taking action to help protect the species is worth it.

It’s easy to get mired in hopelessness, believing there is nothing that can be done to help a natural world being steadily destroyed by “progress.”  I’m not disputing that it isn’t.  But I believe that nature is powerfully resilient, and our actions can and do make a difference, a significant difference.  Did I learn in high school science classes that every action has an equal re-action?

As humans, with relatively short lives on this earth, we’ll never really know the impact of our actions – good or bad – except in the very short-term.  We won’t know if the process of moving turtle eggs doesn’t damage them more than leaving them alone to bear the brunt of public beach activities.  And we won’t know if it’s a good idea to save this specific population of turtle eggs, either.  They are pre-programmed to return to their birthplace to reproduce.  If they survive to make that endeavor, they may return only to find the entire beachfront inhospitable, paved with condos, littered with trash that will entangle and kill them.

As our knowledge increases, we are increasingly aware of the tremendous and devastating impacts we have on nature’s complex ecosystems.  We are challenged with deciding how to proceed in any given set of circumstances.  It’s a matter of prioritizing values, even if they all seem to be important.

It’s a complex game, as the science, parameters and perceptions are ever-changing.  How many turtles is a sufficient number to consider the species no longer endangered?  How much habitat is enough to set aside for them?  How much resources should be spent on turtles?  On other species?

Why save species in the wild at all?  After all, humans can nearly manufacture and farm just about everything we need to survive.  What purpose do wild sea turtles serve?  Some believe that wild animals are intrinsically beneficial to human existence… that we will need them for future medical or scientific miracles.  I don’t think of it that way myself.  I only know that I identify keenly with the plight of another creature’s struggle to survive, and feel a marvelous sense of joy to see them reproduce the next generation.  I feel deeply satisfied to experience nature at its wildest.  Concrete environments provide little inspiration.

There are no absolute answers, only personal and collective priorities.  As a society, we can choose to act in a way that conserves our natural resources, and even try to restore some of them (Restore to what level?).  We can and do also act in a way that destroys our natural resources. 

We know only that action is perpetual; people will continue to save turtles, develop condos, and picnic on the beach.  You have an individual choice to do nothing, or to act as you see fit.  What would you do?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Introducing Author Betsy Hilbert and Moderator Debbie Beer

Endangered loggerhead sea turtle hatches on the 
beach at Back Bay NWR, VA.
Betsy Hilbert was born in Brooklyn in 1941, but has lived in Miami since the age of five.  She has her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Miami and her Ph.D. from the Union Graduate School.  Hilbert has taught in the Independent Studies Department at Miami-Dade Community College since the mid-sixties, and she is known for her scholarly work on women's nature writing as well as her literary essays about the natural world.  In the following essay about her efforts on behalf of endangered loggerhead turtles, she conducts a careful examination of the complexities inherent in human efforts to restore the natural world.  She concludes that, even a universe that is "already disturbed" and in a region where the future is already written in concrete, her best choice is to work on behalf of the turtles.

Debbie Beer
Communications Chairperson, Friends of Heinz Refuge, Philadelphia

I’ve loved being outdoors for as long as I can remember.  My parents raised my family in bustling suburbia, in Ocean County New Jersey, along the Jersey shore.  I didn’t realize until I was a teenager, how unusual it was for kids to spend all day, every day (school aside) playing in the woods, coming home dirty, exhausted and exhilerated!  That’s what my sister and I did, cultivating a deep affection for nature and critters of all shapes and sizes.  We looked for Box Turtles in our backyard fields, flipped logs in search of salamanders, examined tree leaves and bark.
Today I live just outside of Philadelphia, on a standard-size quarter-acre suburban lot.  I’ve transformed the backyard into wildlife-friendly habitat, with native shrubs and multiple bird feeders, providing much enjoyment from the back porch.  But I don’t get to spend much time on the back porch – I’m too busy volunteering at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, guiding bird walks, developing environmental education programs, creating marketing-outreach materials, fundraising and serving on the Friends of Heinz Refuge board of directors. 

I discovered Heinz Refuge about 10 years ago, when I lived in center city Philadelphia and became a birder.  The Refuge was the most convenient place to spend a few hours birding.  I’ve since travelled to many birding hotspots around the U.S., and outside the country, but Heinz Refuge remains my favorite place.  I am endlessly inspired by the Refuge’s year-round diversity of species, supported by myriad habitats.  I’ve met many wonderful people there, who appreciate the beauty, peace and inspiration of the Refuge as much as I do.  I’m an avid reader and writer, and being involved in Friends of Heinz Refuge provides ample opportunity for experiencing the natural world through words.  I look forward to exchanging ideas about this “Wild Read” selection.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Paradise of Frogs

by John Hanson Mitchell
Moderator: Jim Siegel, FWS - NCTC

In his essay, A Paradise of Frogs, John Hanson Mitchell found that in civilizing his Massachusetts yard he had lost his beloved frogs.   When he realizes his mistake, he attempts to re-wild his property by putting in small ponds and letting the grass and weeds go.  After reading the short excerpt, have you ever tried to re-wild a place? Is this even possible given the American ideal is mowing, trimming and landscaping for a well manicured lawn?  Mitchell’s observations can serve as a critique of our national obsession with the mowed lawn. 


We can think that a neat yard is simply the natural order of things in a modern society.  Yet, the lawn aesthetic is hardly some pan-human value.  It’s existence in 21st century America is part of our English endowment from the Tudor and Elizabethan eras, only becoming common place in our country as mowing machines replaced scythes and grazing by sheep in the 19th century, with the aesthetic exploding in the 1950s as suburbs spread into rural country-sides.   Today the lawn is an important aspect of the interaction between the natural environment and the constructed urban and suburban space in the entire U.S., no matter the natural community or climate.

In a thought experiment that could have come right out of Jared Diamond’s Germs, Guns and Steel, what would be our national yard aesthetic  if
our country had been initially founded by another culture, say people native to Peru or New Guinea.  All I know is that we could have certainly saved ourselves a lot of time, effort and treasure, and protected millions of acres of wild nature, to boot.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Introducing John Hanson Mitchell

A Paradise of Frogs: 


John Hanson Mitchell was born in 1940 in Gaylewood, New Jersey, and he has his B.A. in comparative literature from Colombia University.  He lives outside Boston, where he serves as the editor of Sanctuary, the magazine of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and writes about urban and suburban nature.  He is the author of a number of innovative and imaginative books about urban nature that seek out and depict the wildness surviving amidst our proliferating suburbs.  

This brief essay on frogs, which originally appeared as an editor's column in Sanctuary, has the whimsical imagination, the concern for wildlife habitat and the history that we humans write upon the land, and the dedication to the richness of nearby nature that characterize his work. We will begin discussing A Paradise of Frogs on Monday,September 2nd.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trash or Treasure? Seeing Beyond the Rubble of a Blue Jay’s Nest

Hiestand highlights how the common Blue Jay is not the sort of bird that inspires us.  It’s nest is rather humble, lacking organization and without any of the intricacies that we see in other nest builders. In fact, Hiestand describes the Blue Jay’s nest as a “motley jumble.”  This is a bird that is not selective about what material it chooses for nest building, but will use just about anything on hand.  Yet, this trait of adaptability – the fact that the jay CAN use discarded candy wrappers and plastic forks to build its nest (and doesn’t need a specific type of grass, for example) gives it an advantage.  Like other generalist species, jays are very adept at adjusting to urban environments and human disturbance.

As conservation scientists, we often focus our efforts on specialists – those species that are most vulnerable, relying upon a given set of environmental conditions for survival.  While a specialist has evolved to thrive in its niche, the moment that niche disappears, so goes the specialist – like the proverbial canary in the coal mine.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is the generalist:  these species are the most resilient, and often the least likely to receive our attention. However, Hiestand speaks to the beauty of the generalist:  these are species that are the most visible to the majority of Americans, precisely because of their ability to coexist with humans.  And, these are the species that urbanites are most likely to relate to:  “Above all, this is the bird that comes to our window. It comes like the puppy that toddles across the room from the cardboard birthing box, puts its head in your lap, and chooses you.” 

As we seek to connect city dwellers to nature (and in fact, many of us are city dwellers), how do you think we should balance our approach of helping others appreciate generalists and specialists alike?  From an ecological perspective, do you find it challenging to be enthusiastic about generalists like the blue jay?  What are some strategies you've used to leverage a familiar generalist as a teaching tool and a springboard into a broader conversation about conserving wildlife?

You do NOT have to be a "member" of anything to join this discussion. Start by posting a comment below! Centered around urban nature, the focus of these essays differ from more traditional wilderness experiences. Urban conservation is increasingly becoming a part of the vocabulary for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This series of essays is a part of the build-up for a training for staff, Friends, and Partners regarding the Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative.  We invite not only those who will be attending to participate, but also members of the public who are interested in the intersects between urban and nature.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Introducing Emily Heistand

Our first essay from City Wilds will be Emily Heistand's Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah.  Before we jump into her writing, however, we'd like to first introduce Emily:  born in Chicago, she and now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she is Orion magazine's editor-at-large.  Her poetry has won numerous awards, and she is a self-described environmentalist who believes that the language we use to relate to our natural environment shapes our relationship to it, and in particular, the kind of natural resource ethic we're able to create.

Join us beginning on August 26 to share your impressions of this six-page piece about urban nature.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Conclusion by Moderator Anders Halverson


If you’re looking for a cheap thrill, I recommend a little etymology. A little research and suddenly a word you have been taking for granted all your life becomes a window on history and the human condition.

Take for example, the name of the language in which this is written. English derives from the name of a Germanic tribe that migrated from the Jutland peninsula across the North Sea to Britain some time around the fifth century A.D. These Angles received their name from the Romans, who derived it from the Latin word ancus, or hook. Why? Most references will tell you it is because Jutland hooks into the North Sea. But since this shape is really only apparent from high in space (and even then it takes some imagination), an alternate explanation from historian Timothy Rawson seems much more likely to me: the Angles got their name because they caught their fish with a line and hook, instead of a spear or net like most of their contemporaries. And if that etymology is correct, we are thinking and communicating in a fishing language.

In the same vein, consider the rainbow trout. Taken for granted the world over, these fish are in fact layered with human history and all of its contradictions. They are a repository, a symbol of the different ways we have related to the natural world over the last 150 years and more. And to me they are a reminder of the need for humility as we consider where we should go from here.

My stint as moderator comes to an end this week. Thanks to all who enriched the discussion through the online comments. And thanks also to those of you who simply took the time to read the blog and/or the book.

Rainbow Trout
A reminder: I will be speaking at the National Conservation Training Center on February 27th at 7:00 pm and I will also be doing a broadcast discussion with Mark Madison. I am looking forward to more discussions in those events.

If you want to know more about the book, please visit http://andershalverson.com

And finally, if you would like to contact me about other speaking engagements or simply to carry on the discussion, please contact me here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What Will They Say in 50 Years? By Moderator Anders Halverson


This morning, I received an email from someone who had attended a talk I gave recently. He asked: “Is there anything going on nowadays that you would consider comparable to the Green River poisoning? Is there anything that we are currently doing that is as stupid or outlandish or that will be considered insane 50 years from now?”

Good question.

First, for those of you who haven’t read that chapter of the book yet: In 1962 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the fish and game agencies of Wyoming and Utah poisoned all the fish in the Green River above Flaming Gorge (a watershed the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts combined). Their goal was to eliminate anything that might interfere with the fishery they planned to create by stocking (nonnative) rainbow trout. 

And let me emphasize that there are still people today who argue (quite convincingly) that the operation was neither stupid or insane, but a logical response to the dams that were being built on the river (see Wiley, 2008).

The white lines in the river are
rotenone, a fish poison that was
applied to the Green River in 1962
That said, clearly such an operation would never even make it onto the drawing board today. In fact, we have now spent more than $100 million trying to recover several of the same fishes that were poisoned out 50 years ago.

So is there anything we are currently doing in fisheries or natural resource management that will have people tearing their hair out in a few decades? Of course.

But one of the most striking things to me about the Green River incident is how absolutely noncontroversial it was when it occurred. When I began my research, I was surprised at how hard it was to find newspaper articles about the incident. After a lot of scrolling through the microfiche, I eventually found a few, but they were mostly puff pieces in the sports section. It took a long time for me to realize that most people in that era simply didn’t think in the same native/nonnative dualism that has become so prevalent today. To them, fishes were divided into the game fish and the trash fish. Neither did Americans seem to have the same skepticism about progress and our ability to engineer natural systems. It was commonly believed that scientists were able and duty-bound to accomplish these things.

That’s why it is so difficult to guess what they will be saying about us 50 or 100 years from now. I’m sure we are doing things that future generations will consider stupid, outlandish, or insane. But we’re all too wrapped up in our worldviews and preconceptions to know what those things may be.
Robert Miller (L) and Jerry Smith
(2nd from L) were some of the only
people who opposed the Green
River poisoning.

I have some ideas of course, at least in terms of concepts that seem ripe for rethinking. For example, the native/nonnative dualism that shapes so much thought in natural resource management today will surely have to be deemphasized if not thrown out. Climate change is about to show us how quickly ecosystems can change and organisms can move.

In addition, I think the incredible emphasis that we currently place on conservation of species will one day seem hopelessly simplistic. (The same thing goes for biodiversity since, despite the best intentions, it is almost always quantified in terms of species.) Though it seemed a relatively well defined concept through most of the twentieth century, the very  definition of “species” is once again generating some serious head-scratching in the biological community, just as it did for Darwin.

Finally, at risk of stating the obvious, let me declare that just because we're going to make mistakes is not an excuse for not taking action. Only a call for humility when we do.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Hybrid Conundrum by Moderator Anders Halverson


One of the most vexing problems posed by the widespread introduction of rainbow trout in the American West has been their propensity to hybridize with the natives. Take for example, the westslope cutthroat of the northern Rockies. Once the most widespread cutthroat subspecies, their range has been dramatically reduced in the last century due to the introduction of rainbows. Just how far it has shrunk, though, is a matter of some contention. According to the criteria applied by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a fish can still be considered a Westslope cutthroat even if it has a small amount of rainbow trout DNA (say from a great-grandparent). Such fish still occupy about 20 percent of their original range.

Westslope cutthroat native range
But if only those fish that have absolutely no rainbows in their family tree can be counted, then that number drops to less than 2 percent. What’s more, most of these purebred fish are restricted to high, isolated, headwater streams. They’re threatened by inbreeding depression and, since all the pure mainstem populations have been compromised, many of the genes that might have adapted the species to larger rivers can probably only be found today in hybrids.

Interbreeding between slightly hybridized westslopes and their unpolluted cousins might alleviate these problems. But it would also create new ones. There are the biological issues, of course—some studies for example suggest hybrid fish are less fit. But maybe more importantly, it raises a host of legal issues.

The Endangered Species Act passed by Congress in 1973 did not include any guidelines on hybrids. Thus, when the issue arose in the 1980s, Department of Interior lawyers concluded that hybrids could not be protected under the act. It seemed a reasonable decision, at least for a few years. But when new technology gave us the ability to sequence DNA, it became apparent that hybridization was far more common than anybody had previously thought. Certain wolves (which had a little coyote DNA) and other listed species were thrown into legal limbo.
A likely hybrid westslope-rainbow trout

After a brief period of struggle, the lawyers threw in the towel. Hybridization would have to be handled on a case-by-case basis, they concluded, since hybridization was “more properly a biological issue than a legal one.”

I wonder whether it isn’t also an issue of human values and psychology. Are we really so concerned about purebred westslope cutthroats because hybrids may be less fit or because biodiversity may be associated with ecosystem stability? Or do untainted westslopes somehow appeal to our thirst for the prelapsarian, the rare, or some other innate urge?

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Technological Fix by Moderator Anders Halverson

Discussion topic:  An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World

George Perkins Marsh is primarily known today for his 1864 book, Man and Nature, which is widely credited with ushering the idea of conservation into the national discourse. Seven years earlier, though, Marsh wrote a state-commissioned report on the decline of Vermont’s fisheries that previewed many of the same themes.

In this fascinating document, Marsh drew a connection between the loss of fishing opportunities, “duller,” and “more effeminate,” American men, and a threat to “our rights and our liberties.”

Industrialization, logging, and overfishing had initiated the problem. However, “The unfavorable influences which have been alluded to are, for the most part, of a kind which cannot be removed or controlled,” he wrote. “We cannot destroy our dams, or provide artificial water-ways for the migration of fish, which shall fully supply the place of the natural channels; we cannot wholly prevent the discharge of deleterious substances from our industrial establishments into our running waters.”

What to do? Marsh advised artificially propagating and stocking fish into the public waterways. Boys would go fishing again. Democracy would be safe.

George Perkins Marsh
Flash forward to the present day. After hearing me talk about the ecological impacts of fish stocking, people often describe the joy they found as children fishing for what they now realize were probably hatchery rainbows. They connect these experiences to their present love of the out-of-doors and the natural world. And they propose that if stocking fish creates a constituency for such things, perhaps it’s worth any harm it may cause, especially in ecosystems that have already been so dramatically altered by humans.

Perhaps. But I think we should also consider what happens when we try to solve our problems with a technological fix rather than addressing the root of the problem.

On the one hand, history has shown the effectiveness of the technological approach over and over again. For just one example, take the famous 1980 bet between ecologist Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon. Ehrlich believed that overpopulation and overconsumption would lead to a catastrophic depletion of resources unless we tackled both. Simon countered that human ingenuity would mitigate any scarcity issues. They agreed to use the price of certain commodities as an indicator, with Ehrlich betting prices on these items would rise over the next ten years, Simon that they would decline.

Simon won.

Colorado's Crystal River Hatchery
On the other hand, there may be some things that can’t be measured by such simple proxies. Fisheries biologist Ray Hilborn laments that the public in the Pacific Northwest seems to believe that the region’s salmon runs depend entirely on hatcheries. “This belief is particularly pernicious because it inexorably leads to the acceptance of hatcheries as a mitigative measure for further habitat loss and dam construction,” he concludes (full article here).

And when I was researching this book, I had the opportunity to talk to long-time Montana fisheries manager Dick Vincent. He believes that his state’s decision to eliminate most fish stocking has generated an unparalleled river conservation ethic. Because the technological fix is off the table, he maintains, Montanans fight like no others to conserve such things as clean water and spawning habitat.

I’m not a purist, and I don’t have the answers. But I do believe that relying on technological fixes for things like fisheries management can have widespread ripple effects. I wonder, for example, whether our unwillingness to address the root causes of climate change can in some small way be traced back to a hatchery rainbow stocked many years ago to mitigate the effects of a dam.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

An Entirely Synthetic Fish by Author and WILD READ Moderator Anders Halverson

Thanks all for joining this discussion. I’m looking forward to your insights.

I’ll start by giving some background on how I came to write An Entirely Synthetic Fish. About ten years ago, I was working on a Ph.D. in which I used molecular tools like DNA fingerprinting to study ecology, evolution, and conservation. More specifically, I was working with amphibians, mostly wood frogs, addressing questions about inbreeding, kin selection, and microevolution.

I continue to find this field quite fascinating. Nevertheless, there’s nothing like an unfinished dissertation or the thought of all the samples in the lab that still need to be processed to smack you awake in the middle of the night and set you to thinking. And among other things, my late night thoughts focused on the purpose of my labors. So many of the most important debates in society are framed in terms of science. And yet, too often, advocates on all sides seem to use science not to illuminate or question, but rather to justify. Positions are based on value systems that usually remain hidden from scrutiny or discussion, and the resultant debates are therefore fruitless.

The upshot: I decided to leave the lab when I finished my dissertation and examine the issues from a different perspective. I obtained funding from the National Science Foundation to research and write a historical and journalistic narrative that is nominally about rainbow trout but is really, I like to think, about the way we have related to the natural world over the last 150 years.

Fish on Creatine
A group at the University of Missouri is
studying the  effects of the body-
building supplement creatine on
rainbow trout. Photo by Steve Morse
But why rainbow trout? They're frequently the subject of high-profile debates about aquatic ecosystems, for one thing. More importantly, though, I grew up in Colorado and spent many of my happiest hours trying to catch them. For me, as for most anglers, fishing was a way to escape civilization and technology and get back to the natural world. At some point in my late teens, though,  I stopped. I didn’t really think about why, or even notice that I had quit. I just ceased to pick up my rod. It wasn’t until years later (probably late at night) that I began to question it. And it occurred to me that there is a fundamental paradox inherent in recreational fishing, especially in freshwater. Because while it may seem like an escape, fishing is in many ways a product of technology and the industrialized world.

State and federal agencies currently stock more than 40 million pounds of fish in the freshwaters of the United States, almost half of which are catchable sized rainbow trout (more). And often even the fish that didn’t come straight from the hatchery are nonnatives introduced by fisheries managers and zealous anglers many years ago. Rainbows have been introduced to every state in the country and every continent but Antarctica (more). Two out of every three fish swimming in Colorado are nonnative. And I haven’t even mentioned genetic and chromosomal engineering and other ongoing experiments like the one pictured on the right (more).

A Worldwide Fish
Originally native to a narrow band around the Pacific from
Mexico to Kamchatka, rainbow trout can now be found
all over the world (countries in dark gray).
Let’s just say that a stocked rainbow on the end of a fly line is the embodiment of a pretty serious contradiction, at least in my mind. And while it was initially enough of a turnoff to make me quit the sport, it later became a fascinating conundrum that demanded further research.

Of course fish introductions and stocking programs have had some serious consequences for native fauna and ecosystems. Amphibians and freshwater fishes rank #1 and #2 as the most seriously threatened vertebrates in the world. And much of the blame can be laid on the introduction of nonnative fishes. But I’d like to hold off on that for future discussions.

Here I hope to initiate a discussion on the role that science plays in debate and policymaking in conservation and natural resource management. How should it be used? How is it used in fact? I’d very much value your insights in the comments, since if you’re reading this blog you are probably interested or perhaps professionally involved in these fields.

Of course if you've already read the book and have some questions or topics you'd like to discuss or have me discuss in a future post, please mention them. 

Finally, if you are interested in learning more about the book, seeing some cool old photos from the early days of fisheries management, or more photos and figures like those inserted here, please visit http://andershalverson.com

Friday, January 4, 2013

Anders Halverson, Author of An Entirely Synthetic Fish, Moderates WILD READ January 13-February 17, 2013

About Anders Halverson:

Anders Halverson is an award-winning writer with a Ph.D. in ecology from Yale University. He wrote this book, An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World,  as a research associate at the University of Colorado’s Center of the American West with a grant from the National Science Foundation.

About the Book:

Suppose that more than a century ago, U.S. government officials became concerned democracy itself was at risk because men seemed to be less virile.  Suppose that to reverse this trend they decided to populate streams, rivers, and lakes with “an entirely ‘synthetic’ fish”—quarry with which Americans could rediscover their abilities to capture and kill animals. And suppose that, up to the present, these creatures were still being produced and distributed on a massive scale, sometimes even being trained like gladiators and pumped full of the same supplements as the best human athletes so that they would provide a better fight.

Such is the true story of the rainbow trout. Sometimes vilified for their devastating effects on the native fauna, sometimes glorified as the preeminent sport fish, the rainbow trout is the repository of more than a century of America's often contradictory philosophies about the natural world. Exhaustively researched and grippingly rendered by award-winning journalist, aquatic ecologist, and lifelong fisherman Anders Halverson, this book chronicles the discovery of rainbow trout, their artificial propagation and distribution, and why they are being eradicated in some waters yet are still the most commonly stocked fish in the United States.