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Trash Animals

Trash Animals

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

Edited by Kelsi Nagy and Phillip David Johnson II

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

320 Pages, 6 x 9 in

  • Paperback
  • 9780816680559
  • Published: April 1, 2013
  • eBook
  • 9780816686742
  • Published: April 1, 2013


Trash Animals

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

Edited by Kelsi Nagy and Phillip David Johnson II

ISBN: 9780816680559

Publication date: April 1st, 2013

320 Pages

9 x 6

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.

Kelsi Nagy is a graduate student of anthrozoology at Canisius College.



Randy Malamud



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


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