Predatory Bureaucracy: The Extermination of Wolves and the Transformation of the West

Overview


Predatory Bureaucracy is the definitive history of America's wolves and our policies toward predators. Tracking wolves from the days of the conquistadors to the present, author Michael Robinson shows that their story merges with that of the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey. This federal agency was chartered to research insects and birds but - because of various pressures - morphed into a political powerhouse dedicated to killing wolves and other wildlife.

Robinson follows ...

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Overview


Predatory Bureaucracy is the definitive history of America's wolves and our policies toward predators. Tracking wolves from the days of the conquistadors to the present, author Michael Robinson shows that their story merges with that of the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey. This federal agency was chartered to research insects and birds but - because of various pressures - morphed into a political powerhouse dedicated to killing wolves and other wildlife.

Robinson follows wolves' successful adaptation to the arrival of explorers, mountain men, and bounty hunters, through their disastrous century-long entanglement with the federal government. He shares the parallel story of the Biological Survey's rise, detailing the personal, social, geographic, and political forces that allowed it to thrive despite opposition from hunters, animal lovers, scientists, environmentalists, and presidents.

Federal predator control nearly eliminated wolves throughout the United States and Mexico and radically changed American lands and wildlife populations. It undercut the livelihoods of countless homestead families in order to benefit an emerging western elite of livestock owners. The extermination of predators led to problems associated with prey overpopulation, but, as Robinson reveals, extermination and control programs still continue. Predatory Bureaucracy will fascinate readers interested in wildlife, ecosystems, agriculture, and environmental politics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Predatory Bureaucracy is, first and foremost, a work of tremendous scholarship. . . . Surprisingly, it is also a beautifully written book that captures the feel of western landscapes and the ethos of early 20th-century America with an eloquence unusual for a weighty, scholarly book."
International Wolf Magazine

“In Predatory Bureaucracy Michael Robinson paints a vivid picture of the lives of some of the last wolves to roam in the West and of the men who planned and carried out their killings, and tells the remarkable story of passage of the Endangered Species Act and subsequent wolf reintroductions in the face of continuing fierce opposition. Through exhaustive review of thousands of personal letters, policy documents and other obscure records, Robinson chronicles the birth, growth, and cultural maturation of an agency whose primary mission is the extermination of "bad" animals at the behest of the agricultural industry - a case study of the dark side of biopolitics. He documents the Machiavellian tactics used by powerful individuals to federalize the "service" of killing predators and other "harmful" animals. Robinson tells this important story in a compulsively readable manner. Predatory Bureaucracy should be read by all who care about wildlife conservation, especially government biologists."
David R. Parsons, Wildlife Biologist and former Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

"The book brings together a formative history of the dewilding of the western United States, with a focus on the history of predator control of wolves, and an in-depth history of wildlife politics and those that drove the structuring of wildlife laws we currently use. . . . The book inspires the reader to look at the land as a scientist, not a researcher of a particular species, not as a mammalogist, or an ornithologist, or a botanist, but as someone committed to the land ethic first taught by Aldo Leopold, and committed to the future of the landscape, with wolves, coyotes, pronghorn, and the myriad species that make the land what it was, and is, and should be in the future."
Journal of Mammalogy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870818196
  • Publisher: University Press of Colorado
  • Publication date: 10/30/2005
  • Pages: 473
  • Sales rank: 1,259,682
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Michael J. Robinson is carnivore conservation coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity. He lives in New Mexico.
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Table of Contents

Prologue : the last wolf
1 The immutable laws of progress 4
2 A howling wilderness with a vengeance 21
3 Last feast on wild meat 36
4 The best-organized interest in the West 45
5 Bug hunters and gopher detectives 56
6 One big joke with him 70
7 A good wolf 76
8 Manly sport with the rifle 87
9 A certain faction of the natives 104
10 Wide awake and anxious 120
11 Ghost scent 134
12 Your uncle 141
13 That the conquerors may live 150
14 A campaign against magpies 169
15 Intelligent conservation 178
16 True value 189
17 The difference between an Englishman and a Chinaman 207
18 Squawking stockmen 221
19 Much less necessary in the future 237
20 It's alive! 245
21 Full blast of the machine 254
22 With little molestation 276
23 Honorable chief cur 287
24 Not his to take away 305
25 Wildlife services 325
26 Now or in the future 337
27 Detectable ambivalence 347
Epilogue : St. George in overalls 366
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2006

    I recommend this book for anyone concerned with the environment

    I recommend this book for anyone concerned with the environment and the effect of government policies on the environment. It is an impressive, well-written scholarly work. It traces national and local policies toward (against) wolves from the mid-19th century to the present. The research is thorough and extensive. It demonstrates a profound understanding of the relationship between government and land-owners and the implications of policies for the ecology of the Western U.S. It includes an unprecedented detailed count of the wolves, coyotes, and livestock killed since 1878. The writing is beautiful. For example, on page 4, Robinson writes: 'In fall the crisp weather turned aspen leaves yellow, and the first wisps of snow wafted in like unhurried emissaries from a season the hard, cold ground had never quite forgotten.' This is a ground-breaking work. Pearl Katz, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2009

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