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Learning from Death

Roadkill can be a valuable resource for researchers seeking to understand the behaviors of creatures great and small.

Squished squirrels. Dismembered deer. Flattened frogs. Eviscerated elk. Mangled moose. That’s roadkill – the blood, guts, feathers, and bones of animals that fall victim to our roads and highways. Motorists swerve to avoid it. Bicyclists wrinkle their noses and hold their breath when pedaling past it. Joggers veer off-course. Rats and raptors feed on it. photo Blake ThornberryThere are few estimates about the full toll of our roads on wild and domestic…
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by: Eric Freedman – Summer 2018

In the Shadow Of Death

Our final resting places offer safe havens for many rare plant and animal species.

Four white-tailed deer graze atop a rise, oblivious to Jay P Lee and GW Palen, and other folks named Stowell and Whitehead and Slayton and Potter interred there. It’s afternoon – an uncommon feeding time for deer that usually prefer dawn and dusk – on a fall day at Mount Hope Cemetery in Lansing, Michigan. The deer browse amongst the graves, apparently unperturbed by the writer, photographer, and ecologist walking at the…
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by: Eric Freedman – Spring 2017

Repurposing Rocky Flats

The transition of a heavily polluted nuclear site into a wilderness refuge raises questions about the implications of hiding our tainted environmental past.

On arrival, Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is, frankly, uninviting. A bevy of heavy trucks heading to and from the adjacent aggregates mining site churn up clouds of dust as they pass the multi-padlocked refuge gate. A faded sign with the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) logo announces “AREA BEYOND THIS SIGN CLOSED. All public entry prohibited.” Just outside the refuge entrance, RVs are crowded into a storage area at the…
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by: Eric Freedman – Spring 2016

What Is a Critter Worth?

On the value of wolves and eagles, ravens and squirrels

They were heinous crimes with lethal results. A conspiracy by father and son, planned with malice aforethought. Perpetrated over a period of years. Bodies, lots of bodies. Dozens of bodies. Followed by lies and cover-ups. And ultimately arrests and a plea bargain in the deeply troubling saga of the Sowinski family. photo Glenn Roze From 2007 through 2010, Alvin Sowinski – the father in this tale – was poisoning wildlife on the…
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by: Eric Freedman – Winter 2015

Extinction is Forever

A Quest for the Last Known Survivors

I wanted to view Martha in the flesh, so I made a strange pilgrimage to Washington, DC, to visit the last resting place of the best-known endling of the Great Lakes. I could have gone to Cincinnati, where she died on September 1, 1914, at the age of 29. Instead, I journeyed to see what’s left of her, tucked away in a steel storage locker at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural…
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by: Eric Freedman – Autumn 2011


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