Apr 7, 2014

The Wildlife Detectives

by Donna M. Jackson

For the first time in months (been doing the Dare) I allowed myself to browse a little bit in the library. Walked through the kids' section so I picked up a few J non-fiction books. This one is about how forensic science is used to solve crimes against wildlife. It's doubly difficult to prove things because of course the animals can't tell you anything themselves. Careful matches must be made between samples and specimens to prove exactly what species a piece of evidence came from, in particular. One individual case of a famous bull elk in Yellowstone Park that was illegally shot is followed throughout the book as a example. While of course the book is not as detailed as I would like, it was fascinating regardless. I learned something in particular about deer taxonomy- there are only five species of deer in America- whitetail, mule deer, elk, moose and caribou. I paused when I read that in the book- what about blacktail deer, what about key deer in Florida? So I made a quick search of wikipedia and learned that blacktail deer are a subspecies of mule deer, whereas key deer are a subspecies of whitetail. Hah. Also interested to learn that while bald eagles are completely protected by law- no one can kill them, trade sell or otherwise use their body parts- Native Americans are allowed to use eagle feathers in their sacred ceremonies. So when eagles are found dead of natural causes (or killed by people and not needed as evidence) their feathers and other parts are sent by the National Eagle Repository in Colorado to Native Americans throughout the country (who must apply to receive them). One Navajo medicine man is quoted stating that the eagle feather he uses in healing rituals had been handed down by his grandfather from prior generations- that particular feather is a couple of hundred years old. I am impressed at how sacred they hold the single object. 

Well, a good book. Older kids would learn a lot from this one.

Rating: 4/5    47 pages, 2000

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