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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Author explores Southwest environment

    Skeptics often argue that we are not seeing the level of damage that environmentalists claim is happening in the world every day. Yet skeptics rarely acknowledge the effect laws can have in stemming environmental damage

    In “”Endangered: Biodiversity on the Brink,”” Mitch Tobin examines the messy battles that surround the Endangered Species Act. He specifically focuses on what is happening in the Southwest and for good reason. The Southwest is not just home to the Sonoran desert, but also a wide range of landscapes that include grasslands, deciduous and evergreen forests, and snowy mountains. These environments have become home to animals and plants unique to the region.

    While “”Endangered”” is his first book, this is not the first time Tobin has written about the environment. As a former journalist for the Napa Valley Register, the defunct Tucson Citizen, Arizona Daily Star and High Country News, Tobin covered environmental issues and disasters that have been impacted by the act.

    “”Endangered”” is dense yet engaging, and it is at its best when Tobin draws in his experiences as a journalist. Tobin begins with a 2007 article he wrote about the efforts by Phoenix Zoo staff to save a male California condor, number 134. He was a member of a program to reintroduce the endangered species to the Arizona wild after being hatched and raised in captivity.

    When his mate, 210, was captured and tested positive for lead poisoning, biologists worried that 134 could be suffering from the same condition. The lead comes from bullet fragments in carcasses left behind by hunters. Peregrine Fund biologist Thom Ford followed a tip on 134’s location and with the use of a Cessna plane, a helicopter, mouth-to-mouth, and a blood transfusion he and the Phoenix Zoo staff were able to save 134. Unfortunately, according a February/March 2009 update by the Peregrine Fund, 134 was missing and is presumed dead. Other condors have also shown symptoms of lead poisoning since the program began.

    Tobin repeatedly shows how competing interests over endangered species are embroiled in battles that extend beyond environmental issues, and reveals how the individuals involved do not fit readymade typecasts. For anyone with even a faint interest in the Southwest, “”Endangered”” is highly recommended. For people who live here, “”Endangered”” is required reading.


    Mitch Tobin will be visiting the UofA Bookstore at Student Union Memorial Center Thursday Sept. 23 for a 5 p.m. talk and signing.

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