We also learn what is called the “faecal harness”, a device for collecting animal waste – “a kind of upside-down feeding bag”. Fauna’s droppings provide enormous amounts of information for investigative naturalists, whose analysis has come a long way. In the bad old days, “if you wanted to know what a species ate, you would open a few hundred stomachs,” Roach writes. An article on howling owls from 1900, for example, lists the contents of 255 owl guts. Reading all these murders made her tired and sad, Roach writes, but she also found it “vaguely festive” thanks to the presentation “Twelve Days of Christmas style”: “91 stomachs contained mice … 100 stomachs contained insects “, etc. .
This is a light example of some of the jokes that made me cringe – the ones that told anecdotes of killed animals. I think for Roach it could be gallows humor, a way to lighten up the moment for herself as well as the reader.
She is clearly not insensitive. Take for example another scene that she could have milked for its comic value, but chose not to: She’s dating Stewart Breck, a Colorado wildlife biologist specializing in human-animal conflict for National Wildlife Research. Center (“the branch of Wildlife Services, which is part of the United States Department of Agriculture,” says Roach). She has learned that when there is edible waste, local bears are often attracted. However, garbage eaters get used to humans, and bears who know people well get into trouble. And the problems, quite often, mean the bears are “killed off.” So, in Aspen, when Roach sees a bear munching up the steps of a “fancy mini-mall,” she knows it’s not as funny as it looks: outside a Louis Vuitton store. This poor goober with the burrata on his muzzle, innocent and totally oblivious to his probable fate, makes me want to cry.
There are many conflicts in the management of conflicts related to wildlife. As Roach points out, Breck walks an unenviable line. “There are Wildlife Services alumni who hate him for rocking the boat,” she said, “and there are animal welfare activists who hate him for not shaking him hard enough. Roach characterizes the “services” as being primarily provided to farmers and ranchers “who have problems with wildlife which reduces their livelihoods, and often takes the form of killing that wildlife.” Breck’s job is to seek out non-lethal alternatives.