Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law

by Mary Roach
Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law

by Mary Roach


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Oh, the places we’ve explored with Mary Roach as the guide! The morgue, the afterlife, the bedroom, the battlefield, our own alimentary canals, and space. In Fuzz, we follow her gladly down the fraught path of human-wildlife conflicts. What to do when animals break laws meant for humans? Thorny matters indeed. Mary Roach, the science teacher we all wish we’d had in school, is never afraid to ask any question. “I’m here. I might as well ask,” she states. That she unabashedly does so means we readers are by far richer for the delicious wildness and range of her curiosity.

An Instant New York Times Bestseller
#1 Los Angeles Times Bestseller
#1 Indie Hardcover Nonfiction Bestseller
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2021
Longlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

Join "America’s funniest science writer" (Peter Carlson, Washington Post), Mary Roach, on an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet.

What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. These days, as New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach discovers, the answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology.

Roach tags along with animal-attack forensics investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, bear managers, and "danger tree" faller blasters. Intrepid as ever, she travels from leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Indian Himalaya to St. Peter’s Square in the early hours before the pope arrives for Easter Mass, when vandal gulls swoop in to destroy the elaborate floral display. She taste-tests rat bait, learns how to install a vulture effigy, and gets mugged by a macaque.

Combining little-known forensic science and conservation genetics with a motley cast of laser scarecrows, langur impersonators, and trespassing squirrels, Roach reveals as much about humanity as about nature’s lawbreakers. When it comes to "problem" wildlife, she finds, humans are more often the problem—and the solution. Fascinating, witty, and humane, Fuzz offers hope for compassionate coexistence in our ever-expanding human habitat.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781324036128
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/30/2022
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 12,946
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Mary Roach is the author of five best-selling works of nonfiction, including Grunt, Stiff, and, most recently, Fuzz. Her writing has appeared in National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine, among other publications. She lives in Oakland, California.


San Francisco, California

Place of Birth:

New Hampshire


B.A., Wesleyan University, 1981

Table of Contents

A Quick Word of Introduction 1

1 Maul Cops

Crime Scene Forensics When the Killer Isn't Human 7

2 Breaking and Entering and Eating

How Do You Handle a Hungry Bear? 29

3 The Elephant in the Room

Manslaughter by the Pound 57

4 A Spot of Trouble

What Makes a Leopard a Man-Eater? 77

5 The Monkey Fix

Birth Control for Marauding Macaques 95

6 Mercurial Cougars

How Do You Count What You Can't See? 119

7 When the Wood Comes Down

Beware the "Danger Tree" 139

8 The Terror Beans

The Legume as Accomplice to Murder 153

9 Okay, Boomer

Futile Military Actions Against Birds 171

10 On the Road Again

Jaywalking with the Animals 189

11 To Scare a Thief

The Esoteric Art of the Frightening Device 209

12 The Gulls of St. Peter's

The Vatican Tries a Laser 223

13 The Jesuit and the Rat

Wildlife Management Tips from the Pontifical Academy for Life 239

14 Killing with Kindness

Who Cares About a Pest? 251

15 The Disappearing Mouse

The Scary Magic of Gene Drives 275

Acknowledgments 293

The Fuzzy Trespasser: Resources for Homeowners 297

Bibliography 299

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