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Trash Animals

How We Live with Nature’s Filthy, Feral, Invasive, and Unwanted Species

2013

Kelsi Nagy and Phillip David Johnson II, Editors

Trash Animals

From pigeons to prairie dogs, reflections on reviled animals and their place in contemporary life

In Trash Animals, a diverse group of environmental writers explore the natural history of wildlife species deemed filthy, invasive, or worthless, highlighting the vexed relationship humans have with such creatures. Each essay focuses on a so-called trash species—gulls, coyotes, carp, and magpies, among others—examining the biology and behavior of each in contrast to the assumptions widely held about them.

I highly recommend Trash Animals for anyone interested in learning more about the amazing animals with whom we share space and time.

Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today

Why are some species admired or beloved while others are despised? An eagle or hawk circling overhead inspires awe while urban pigeons shuffling underfoot are kicked away in revulsion. Fly fishermen consider carp an unwelcome trash fish, even though the trout they hope to catch are often equally non-native. Wolves and coyotes are feared and hunted in numbers wildly disproportionate to the dangers they pose to humans and livestock.

In Trash Animals, a diverse group of environmental writers explores the natural history of wildlife species deemed filthy, unwanted, invasive, or worthless, highlighting the vexed relationship humans have with such creatures. Each essay focuses on a so-called trash species—gulls, coyotes, carp, cockroaches, magpies, prairie dogs, and lubber grasshoppers, among others—examining the biology and behavior of each in contrast to the assumptions widely held about them. Identifying such animals as trash tells us nothing about problematic wildlife but rather reveals more about human expectations of, and frustrations with, the natural world.

By establishing the unique place that maligned species occupy in the contemporary landscape and in our imagination, the contributors challenge us to look closely at these animals, to reimagine our ethics of engagement with such wildlife, and to question the violence with which we treat them. Perhaps our attitudes reveal more about humans than they do about the animals.

Contributors: Bruce Barcott; Charles Bergman, Pacific Lutheran U; James E. Bishop, Young Harris College; Andrew D. Blechman; Michael P. Branch, U of Nevada, Reno; Lisa Couturier; Carolyn Kraus, U of Michigan–Dearborn; Jeffrey A. Lockwood, U of Wyoming; Kyhl Lyndgaard, Marlboro College; Charles Mitchell, Elmira College; Kathleen D. Moore, Oregon State U; Catherine Puckett; Bernard Quetchenbach, Montana State U, Billings; Christina Robertson, U of Nevada, Reno; Gavan P. L. Watson, U of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Trash Animals

Kelsi Nagy holds an M.A. in philosophy from Colorado State University and is a graduate student of anthrozoology at Canisius College in New York. She received a 2012 Culture and Animals Foundation grant for her research on cattle in human culture. She lives and works in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Phillip David Johnson II is assistant coordinator for the Institute for Learning and Teaching at Colorado State University.

Randy Malamud is professor of English at Georgia State University.

Trash Animals

I highly recommend Trash Animals for anyone interested in learning more about the amazing animals with whom we share space and time.

Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today

...The combination of impeccably researched essays, first-person perspectives, moments of hope, drunken cockroaches, and a success story or two should make most see the editors’ point and recognize that even “trash” animals can be clever, helpful, and loving.

PopMatters.com

Trash Animals complicates and muddies the lines we draw between the animals we love to love and those we despise. This book will be an invaluable, instructive, and entertaining resource for anyone interested in how we learn, or forget, to live with them.

Chicago Reader

For anyone still under the misconception that nature writing is limited to celebrations of natural beauty and explorations of soothing pastoral landscapes, Trash Animals provides a refreshing alternative.

ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

Trash Animals

Contents

Foreword
Randy Malamud

Acknowledgments

Introduction
Kelsi Nagy and Phillip David Johnson II


I. The Symbolic Trash Animal
1. See Gull: Cultural Blind Spots and the Disappearance of the Ring-billed Gull in
Toronto
Gavan P. L. Watson

2. Hunger Makes the Wolf
Charles Bergman

3. Beauty and the Beast
Catherine Puckett

4. Managing Apocalypse: A Cultural History of the Mormon Cricket
Christina Robertson

II. The Native Trash Animal
5. One Nation under Coyote, Divisible
Lisa Couturier

6. Prairie Dog and Prejudice
Kelsi Nagy

7. Nothing Says Trash like Packrats: Nature Boy Meets Bushy Tail
Michael P. Branch

III. The Invasive Trash Animal
8. Canadas: From Conservation Success to Flying Carp
Bernard Quetchenbach

9. The Bard’s Bird; or, The Slings and Arrows of Avicultural Hegemony: A Tragicomedy
in Five Acts
Charles Mitchell

10. Fly-Fishing for Carp As a Deeper Aesthetics
Phillip David Johnson II

IV. The Urban Trash Animal
11. Metamorphosis in Detroit
Carolyn Kraus

12. Kach’i: Garbage Birds in a Hybrid Landscape
James E. Bishop

13. Flying Rats
Andrew D. Blechman

V. Moving beyond Trash
14. Kill the Cat That Kills the Bird?
Bruce Barcott

15. An Unlimited Take of Ugly: The Bullhead Catfish
Kyhl Lyndgaard

16. A Six-legged Guru: Fear and Loathing in Nature
Jeffrey A. Lockwood

17. The Parables of the Rats and Mice
Kathleen Dean Moore


Publication History
Contributors
Index

Trash Animals

UMP blog - Pigeons. Cockroaches. Grasshoppers. Just what is a 'trash animal'?

I am often asked this question when someone discovers that I am an editor of a collection of essays with a title of the same phrase.

Long answer: The phrase "trash animal" is used to describe many animals. Fur trappers deem non-target species caught in traps as “trash animals.” Some people—even animal-loving people like birders—will call certain common or ubiquitous species like pigeons or starlings “garbage birds.” An angler may describe fish such as carp, catfish or bi-catch as “trash fish.” This phrase can apply to animals considered vermin, varmints, exotic or invasive species and may also refer to problematic, ugly, dangerous or otherwise unwanted wildlife. Seagulls, mice, coyotes, rattlesnakes, feral cats, prairie dogs, and grasshoppers, are some of these so-called “trash animals” featured in the Trash Animals collection.

Short Answer: No animals are trash.

Read the full article.