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Trash Animals: How We Live with Nature's Filthy, Feral, Invasive, and Unwanted Species

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

By: Kelsi Nagy (Editor), Phillip David Johnson (Editor), Randy Malamud (Foreword By)

University of Minnesota Press

Paperback | May 2013 | #204122 | ISBN-13: 9780816680559
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £18.50 $23/€21 approx
Hardback | May 2013 | #204127 | ISBN-13: 9780816680542
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £55.99 $69/€63 approx

About this book

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.


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 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

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Kelsi Nagy is a graduate student of anthrozoology at Canisius College. Phillip David Johnson s assistant coordinator for the Institute for Learning and Teaching at Colorado State University.  Randy Malamud is professor of English at Georgia State University. 


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