I write about animals, for three reasons: Because I find them wondrous, and good for the soul. Because it haunts me to know how badly we treat so many of them. And because they deserve every voice, every compassionate ally we can muster on their behalf.
For much of my career I’ve covered the science of wildlife conservation, gravitating towards a particularly maligned tribe of animal called predators. The fang-and-claw fascination inevitably led me to a cadre of rabble-rousing scientists who were turning the tenets of ecology on its head, uncovering the critical roles of Earth’s topmost predators in enriching the web of life. Hence my first book Where the Wild Things Were, which Barnes & Noble chose as one of its “Discover Great New Writers” selections. Then followed an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship and The Wild Things’ twisted sequel, Rat Island, a true tale of alien predators running amok on oceanic islands, and the bloody campaign to defeat them. The third in this unplanned predator trilogy was Heart of a Lion, following in the footsteps of one heroic young mountain lion who walked his way across America, thousands of miles through enemy lines, from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the outskirts of Manhattan.
And then, there’s the dog. In 2012 I ran across a horrifically wounded pit bull puppy, whose unspeakable suffering and miraculous recovery sent me searching for answers down many a dark alley of cruelty and yellow brick road of compassion. My attempt to distill the whole of that journey into five hundred words is the book called Towpath’s Tail.
My home territory these days is the Washoe Valley of south Reno, perfectly situated between the snowcapped heights of the Sierra Nevada, and brown sagebrush badlands of the Great Basin desert.