cover image Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl

Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl

Jonathan C. Slaght. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-374-90384-8

Biologist Slaght provides a detailed and thrilling account of efforts to conserve an endangered species, the Blakiston’s fish owl, in the wilds of eastern Russia. As a University of Minnesota doctoral student, Slaght spent part of each year from 2006 until 2010 in the hardscrabble, sparsely inhabited region of Primorye doing research into the enormous yet elusive creatures. To develop a plan for protecting the species from the incursions of logging companies and poachers, Slaght and his Russian colleagues entered the winter forest, contending with frozen rivers and extreme weather (as well as tigers and bemused locals) while trying to collect data on fish owls. After some initial failures, they managed to catch several specimens and equipped them with radio transmitters before releasing them, a method then adopted by Japanese scientists to protect their own fish owl population. Conscientious about crediting his Russian collaborators, Slaght also evinces humor, tirelessness, and dedication in relating the hard and crucial work of conservation. Readers will be drawn to this exciting chronicle of science and adventure, “a demonstration that wilderness can still be found.” (Aug.)