cover image A Shadow and a Song: The Struggle to Save an Endangered Species

A Shadow and a Song: The Struggle to Save an Endangered Species

Mark Jerome Walters. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, $21.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-930031-58-9

As early as 1955, biologists voiced concern about the future of the dusky seaside sparrow, a native of the swamplands of Brevard County, Fla. Walters ( The Dance of Life: Courtship in the Animal Kingdom ) here presents a well-documented account of the dusky's decline and its final days. He accuses NASA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of flouting the law that prohibits the destruction of crucial habitats, and faults county officials for invading that habitat with a major expressway and two large housing developments. Twenty years of ``studies'' proved futile while bureaucrats dragged their feet. In 1971, the government created a Wildlife Refuge for the dusky, but in successive years wildfires raced through it, decimating the dusky population. Five male duskies were captured in 1979 and made wards of the state, eventually winding up at Disney World, where they all died under mysterious circumstances. The dusky was officially declared extinct on Dec. 12, 1990--the final chapter in a saga of human folly that would be ludicrous if it weren't tragic. (Oct.)