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Called by the wild [electronic resource] : the autobiography of a conservationist /
Raymond F. Dasmann ; with a foreword by Paul Erhlich.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2002.
description
xiv, 255 p. : ill.
ISBN
0520229789 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
added author
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2002.
isbn
0520229789 (cloth : alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8838318
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 241-244).
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"This graceful and readable book is the first-hand account of one who contributed in important ways to the ecological revolution that followed World War II, an encourager whose respect for nature and humanity shines through every pageƉ. Inspired by others, he in turn gave inspiration to a generation that may have helped us to turn back towards collective sanity in our relationship with the Earth."--Peter H. Raven, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science "How the environmental movement came to be and the role he played in its emergence is the core of Ray Dasmann's story. Environmentalism did not just happen: people forged it from their passionate grief at the threat to our living world. Understanding that passion and that grief is the gift this volume has to offer."--Carl Pope, President of the Sierra Club
Flap Copy
"This graceful and readable book is the first-hand account of one who contributed in important ways to the ecological revolution that followed World War II, an encourager whose respect for nature and humanity shines through every page. Inspired by others, he in turn gave inspiration to a generation that may have helped us to turn back towards collective sanity in our relationship with the Earth."--Peter H. Raven, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science "How the environmental movement came to be and the role he played in its emergence is the core of Ray Dasmann's story. Environmentalism did not just happen: people forged it from their passionate grief at the threat to our living world. Understanding that passion and that grief is the gift this volume has to offer."--Carl Pope, President of the Sierra Club
First Chapter


Chapter One

Beginnings:

The Lure of Wild Country

I envy those who seem able to recall their childhood clearly. According to all accounts I was born in Mary's Help Hospital in San Francisco in 1919, at a time of great family sadness. My father had died of causes related to that year's great flu epidemic, which wiped out some twenty million others worldwide. Pictures of me as a small baby with my mother indicate that she was still doing a lot of crying. I remember nothing.

    My early years were spent in a flat on 18th Street near Sanchez in San Francisco from which I made forays to Mission Park, a place then safe for families. All I remember of that dwelling was a long, dark stairway of which I was afraid. One of the building's other denizens was a man who took delight in scaring the wits out of little kids.

    I have one memory of skipping along beside my mother on Dolores Street singing "a beaver, a beaver, a beaver, a bee, a beaver a company." That was my version of "vive la, vive la, vive la vie, vive la compagnie." I still don't do too well with French, but the incident may suggest an early interest in wildlife.

    The only place where I really came alive during my early years was my grandparents' farm near Sonoma. I remember walking the perimeter fences with the family dog, Teddy, keeping guard. I think I remember somebody saying that Teddy had more sense than I did, which was true. I recall following behind my grandfather's horse and plow, and once finding a family of little pink and white field mice in the furrow. I remember hammering a great number of nails into a boardwalk connecting the house and barn while watching the comings and goings of barn swallows from their nests under the eaves. There were quince trees and a mulberry tree, all of them full of fruit. There was a duck pond where a gander attacked me with ferocious wing beats until I was rescued by my mother. I think we ate him for Christmas.

    Then there was the rare trip to Sonoma in an honest-to-God surrey with a fringe on top. I remember the town square at that time and the candy store where I was supplied with goodies. I learned to jump up and down and yell, "De Valera" and "Erin go bragh," and I learned the words to "The Wearing of the Green" from records played on our wind-up phonograph. We were Irish all the way. The German side of my ancestry disappeared with my father's death. I don't know why. My folks were not good at explaining things or at passing on relevant information, though they talked a lot. Much later my brother Bob, after great effort and many trips to Germany, discovered that we had many German relatives, of whom none of us had heard a word.

    Those were the years of the Wilson, Harding, and Coolidge presidencies. I didn't hear anything about them. They were the years of postwar prosperity, the Roaring Twenties. Prosperity passed us by and we heard no roaring. I do remember great excitement when the barn burned down. I am told that soon thereafter our horse died; its loss essentially meant the end of the family farm. I do recall the death of my grandfather when I was five, but I was unaware of what was going on and never saw him when he was ill. From sources unknown to me, my mother acquired the money to buy a block of flats on Fell Street near Webster. The building itself was old, pre-1906 (built before the earthquake and fire), with the top flat being on the luxurious side with a grand ballroom and a library. With the help of my Uncle James and my older brother Bill, the flats were converted into nine self-contained apartments. My mother undertook the work of owner/manager, renting the apartments and doing the cleaning, furnishing, and all the worrying. I made trips to the corner grocery store and later did some dishwashing, vacuuming of halls, and miscellaneous cleaning.

    The house had belonged to an elderly lady named Margaret O'Callahan. When she moved to a more salubrious location on Pacific Heights, she left behind a treasure trove of stuff for us to guard, known as O'Callahan's basement. Over the years the place had filled up with furnishings, works of art, and memorabilia from the early days of California, including things belonging to General Vallejo and other famous Spanish Californians. Some in her family had traveled widely, so there were also souvenirs from far places: an ostrich egg, a carved ivory nut, wooden figurines, a derringer, a sword cane, and so on. I do believe she finally reclaimed most of it. I wish I knew more about it, but at the time I was impervious to the affairs of adults. All I remember about Miss O'Callahan is that she tried unsuccessfully to give me piano lessons, starting with bits of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata . My musical education ended there.

    At around the same time we moved into the Fell Street place, my aunt Margaret McDonnell, known as Peg, moved into a house in the Sunnyside District on Congo Street. Since Peg was a registered nurse and single, the rest of the family loaded her with the care of my grandmother and Aunt Nora. My grandmother at that time was seeing people who weren't there and not seeing people who were there, and my Aunt Nora was what was called feeble-minded, meaning she could not really care for herself. Peg was also saddled, part of the time, with me. Congo Street became a second home for me and from it I ventured into the semiwild highlands of San Francisco extending from Mount Davidson to Twin Peaks. There was a working dairy farm up there and lots of jackrabbits, ground squirrels, and birds. As far as I was concerned, that was the real world. The city streets were not. Our dog Teddy accompanied me at first, and later his replacement, a mixed breed coyotelike creature called Rex. In retrospect it amazes me that I encountered no people in my wanderings, and nobody worried about my poking around on my own.

    In 1925 our family travels began. Bob, who was seven years older than I, suffered from asthma, and our expeditions were in search of a warm fog-free place where his health would improve. Our first base was in Los Gatos, a small town surrounded by fruit orchards. We boarded for a time at an old farmhouse owned by Mrs. Cox, along with her son Frank. I remember roaming freely through fields and orchards. Mostly I remember an attic full of World War I memorabilia, including an old gramophone that played cylindrical records with songs like "Over There" and "Yankee Doodle." There I found a beautiful first edition of African Game Trails by Theodore Roosevelt. It was given to me when we left, and in my irresponsible way I accomplished its virtual destruction. Nevertheless, Roosevelt's work, when I grew old enough to read and understand it, created a vision of Africa that would accompany me in my later work on that continent.

    In downtown Los Gatos we later rented a house that various members of our family decreed to be haunted. This campaign was not just aimed at terrifying me--which it did--but was intended to scare the wits out of my older cousins, the daughters of Uncle James McDonnell. It succeeded in panicking them also.

    Frank Cox of the Los Gatos farm was an all-around farmer-rancher who worked for a living in a place in Monterey County, in the San Antonio River valley, known as Aloha Ranch. It was owned by Charlie and Lottie Ferguson, who had moved there from Hawaii, probably during a wet cycle in California's erratic climate when the land looked green and fertile. They expected to earn a living from mixed farming, with wheat fields, dairy cows, chickens, turkeys, and a kitchen garden. The ranch house was a fascinating adobe structure with a surrounding roofed-over veranda in the Pacific Islands style. It was there that we next moved temporarily and my brother Bob did remain throughout his high school years. I went for a brief time to the grade school adjacent to Lockwood High School. To me, Aloha Ranch was paradise.

    Here I first heard and later saw coyotes. At night they serenaded from a little knoll not far from the house and no doubt investigated the chicken coops. To me the chaparral and oak woodland seemed to be teeming with wildlife--quail, doves, and cottontails most noticeably, but also many hawks and a variety of songbirds. I was allowed to wander freely during our various visits. I recall discovering a remote canyon where I found the ruins of an old farmhouse and some surviving apple trees. Here I heard for the first time the mournful cry of a roadrunner. The whole canyon felt haunted. Somebody's dreams had fallen apart there in a farmstead that didn't make it.

    Over the years we witnessed the steady decline of Aloha Ranch in a losing battle against drought and the competition of larger, more industrialized agriculturists. The Fergusons firmly believed that there was oil under their land, and there may have been. But it was after they died that the oil fields in nearby San Ardo were brought into production. The land now forms part of a larger land holding with access to water for irrigation. Wheat fields run across the old coyote knoll. The old adobe is in ruins.

    Equally important to my life was a ranch belonging to my "rich uncle," Charlie Kaar. He made his money selling Buicks in Bakersfield and later lost a good share of it "wildcatting" for oil. The ranch was his retreat and could have served as a model for all the back-to-the-land folk of the sixties and seventies. If I had possessed common sense at the time I could have learned how to live life like that. He owned a good-sized acreage located on Walker Basin Creek below Greenhorn Mountain in the southern Sierra. On perhaps ten acres he developed a mixed-species fruit orchard--I remember peaches, cherries, and apples--using no pesticides. He brought irrigation water from the creek, which he had partially dammed, and also installed a small turbine for generating electricity. He had riding and work horses along with milk cows and beef cattle. Feed for them came from irrigated alfalfa and hay fields. He had built himself a comfortable farmhouse, barns, and various sheds. But when I went there, I was totally unaware of what he had accomplished and was only interested in running wild. My cousin Jack Gobar did not share my enthusiasm for wild country, though he often accompanied me.

    Later, in my teen years, I settled on being a cowboy. Riding horses, chasing cows, and seeking wild animals were my total concern, until finally a horse threw me and kicked me in the head, but that's another story. My thoughts shortly thereafter about going into the Forest Service had no necessary connection to this event.

    The Kaar Ranch with its perennial stream and extensive riparian woodlands was a wildlife paradise. Black bear and mountain lions were present, along with bobcats and many coyotes. Deer were abundant. I often sat motionless by the stream to watch deer and coyotes come to drink. I found the skull of a bighorn ram in one canyon from which these wild sheep had long since disappeared. I have not dared go back to the old Kaar Ranch. The whole area changed with the development of the Kern River and the Isabella Dam. I don't know if the old ranch survived. It does not pay to return to magical places you've left behind.

    In my early years I became a voracious reader, haunting the public library and returning with arms full of books. Ernest Thompson Seton's books about wildlife had a strong influence on me, as did Will James's books about cowboy life and Jack London's Call of the Wild . There was another book about the fascination of learning bird identification. I no longer remember either the author or the title but it did turn me toward the most accessible wildlife in San Francisco. I set out to study birds armed with some pocket guides sold at Woolworth's concerned entirely with the eastern United States. In my first venture I identified four species of sparrows, all of which proved to be different sex and age classes of the English sparrow. Later, to my great joy, I identified a lone hermit thrush who came to abide in the garden of our neighbor's house on Fell Street.

    My birding efforts took me to Golden Gate Park, where I roamed far and wide, finding juncos, white-crowned sparrows, chickadees, scrub jays and other readily identifiable species. Each trip added species to my "life list." My behavior puzzled some members of my extended family who did not share my interests. I was referred to as the "boyologist" and urged to seek more socially acceptable pursuits.

    One of my greatest finds was the California Academy of Sciences, where in the North American Hall were displayed most of the species I was encountering. Also, I found there a wonderful book, The Birds of Golden Gate Park , by Joseph Maillard, which spurred me on to greater exploration of the park. On one occasion I met Maillard himself and was shown more of the academy's bird collection. Despite these finds, I was still a "closet ornithologist" since nobody I knew shared my interest in birds. I dreamed of the day when I could get out into the wild lands and see some of the species displayed in the California Academy.

    In the 1920s the Old West was still very much alive. My brother Bill, at age seventeen, went out to Nevada to become a real cowboy on one of the last of the old-style open range cattle ranches. Later he returned to work on a cattle ranch near Tres Pinos in the inner coastal range. There he lived in an old deserted inn or roadhouse dating back to the days when travelers came on horseback or in horse-drawn carriages. He was full of tales of Joaquin Murietta and Three-fingered Jack, who were rumored to have stayed there. When we went to visit him his tales and our surroundings aroused all the old family fears of haunted houses. Pack rats in the upstairs rooms rattling their stuff around terrified my Aunt Peg in particular, but awoke us all at times. Apart from these nighttime terrors, I can recall sitting on the high seat of a cultivator watching rattlesnakes go by.

    Even in those days the California farming community already had more economic importance than ranching, but places like Gilroy, King City, and San Juan Batista were basically cow towns, and livestock ranches still dominated the central coastal ranges. Most of the larger wild animals there had been hunted out of existence. Game laws were mostly unknown or ignored. Nobody enforced them. Away from the city most people hunted, but I did not know anybody with a hunting license. At the Fergusons' and later at the Kaar Ranch in my teen years I was allowed to use the available guns, and I often brought back quail, doves, and rabbits for the dinner table. However, my interest in hunting declined after my encounter with a ghost coyote.

    This took place at Murphy Springs, where a pond of water remained in the dry season. Quail, doves, deer and a great variety of other wildlife came there to drink. The area had an immense attraction to me as a beginning hunter. It had the added charm of being strictly out of bounds, since it lay inside the boundary of the Hearst ranch. The vast estate of William Randolph Hearst in the Santa Lucia Mountains was reportedly patrolled by hired guns, and they were allegedly very rough on trespassers. Since I had never seen one of these fearsome riders I cannot vouch for their existence, but their possible presence added spice to the poaching of game.

    One day I was sneaking around among the cottonwoods and sycamores when I saw a coyote trotting down a hill toward the water. Almost without thinking I brought my .22 rifle to my shoulder and fired. I'd gain great prestige by bringing a coyote carcass to the ranch house! Only seconds passed before a feeling of grief overtook me. I had shot my pal, the night singer from the hill. Furthermore, he/she bore a disturbing resemblance to my old dog Rex. I hastened over to where the coyote had been, feeling worse with every step. But there was no coyote, dead or alive, in the vicinity. There was no blood, no evidence that a coyote had been there. I searched the hillside. Nothing. That was the end of my trigger-happy days. I did not give up hunting then, but it took a more rational form.

    The mystique of hunting is considerable. For me hunting was a rite of passage, bringing acceptance into the adult male community. The love of wild places and the thrill of stalking wary species, along with the reward of feasting off your victims, tap a mental or spiritual channel in use throughout the history of the human species. But as a way of life for all humans, hunting is no longer valid. There are too many of us and too few wild animals. Unless we decrease human numbers, hunting can only remain as a controlled and limited activity for those who pursue the sport legitimately.

    A few years ago in Siberia I listened to a wildlife expert from the Baikal region tell about hunting bears in the old days. The Siberian brown bears are big, fierce creatures, kin to the grizzly. Against them hunters used the equivalent of a medieval boar spear, with a crosspiece behind the long, sharp blade to keep the wounded boar from running up the spear and goring its attacker. There are not enough bears nowadays to allow rifle hunting but--as I recommended to the Siberian expert--local authorities could make the opportunity to go bear hunting into a means of attracting tourist income to their area. The only requirement would be to use no firearms, only bear spears. Who knows, a few fearless hunters might pay high fees to engage in this suicidal activity. And the mortality rate among the bear clan could be quite bearable.

Excerpted from Called by the Wild by Raymond F. Dasmann. Copyright © 2002 by Regents of the University of California. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2002-03-01:
Pioneering conservationist Dasmann (emeritus, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Environmental Conservation, 5th ed.) developed such concepts as bioregionalism and ecotourism and warned us about the ecological dangers of human overpopulation, which put him in the vanguard of the environmental movement. Here he relates anecdotes from his boyhood in San Francisco in the 1920s, his military service during World War II, and his years studying the environment, both inside and outside the classroom. As Dasmann details here, his field research took him to Africa, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean, and other areas, and his expertise and publications led to academic positions across America and employment with the United Nations and various conservation organizations. Accompanying him on the journey is his beloved wife, Elizabeth, who shares his adventures and completes his circle of life. Dasmann tells fascinating stories of his adventures and the people he met. A lively, readable memoir that will appeal to a wide audience, this volume is an important addition to most libraries. Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley Coll., Mt. Carmel, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2002-08-01:
A native of California, wildlife biologist Dasmann interrupted his college studies with involvement in WW II. During Army service in the Pacific Theater, he met his future wife in Australia. Returning to his studies, he completed a doctorate in conservation biology at the University of California in 1956, when that discipline was in its infancy. Years of teaching at several California universities alternated with assignments with a number of conservation organizations, notably the Conservation Foundation, UNESCO's Biosphere project, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (of which he was acting director), the Earth Island Institute, and others. For more than 45 years, he has played a vital role in developing the fields of international conservation and environmentalism. In early chapters, he describes his family background, his formative years in California, his military experiences, and his eventual choice of career. The effects of his work and frequent travels on his wife and three daughters also receive attention. Other topics include the evolution of his conservation philosophy, his teaching and writings, and some of the mentors and colleagues with whom he has been associated over the years. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty. K. B. Sterling formerly, Pace University
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2002-01-14:
Full of disarming personal anecdotes, Dasmann's (Environmental Conservation) memoir is both an absorbing account of a pioneering career in environmental conservation and a charming love story. Born in 1919, his father a recent victim of the pandemic Spanish Flu, the author comes of age in San Francisco. He recalls his growing interest in the nascent fields of ecology and environmental biology, his active duty in the Pacific during World War II, and the many adventures of his 53-year marriage. As a member of the vanguard of scientists warning about human overpopulation and consequent depredation of the planet, the author speaks with an authority born of decades of study, university teaching, and active involvement in international agencies dedicated to husbanding the earth's natural resources. What distinguishes this writer from many of his environmentalist peers is his willingness to admit that he does not have all the answers to the vexing ecological questions of our times. Dasmann addresses the tension between environmental responsibility and human material desires without sanctimony, making this a winning memoir for anyone interested in ecology. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, January 2002
Library Journal, March 2002
Choice, August 2002
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Ranging from his travels to ecological hotspots to his development of concepts such as bioregionalism and ecotourism, this autobiography tells the story of Raymond Dasmann - a pioneer in international conservation.
Long Description
A pioneer in international conservation and wildlife ecology, Raymond Dasmann published his first book, the influential textEnvironmental Conservation,when the term "environment" was little known and "conservation" to most people simply meant keeping or storing. This delightful memoir tells the story of an unpretentious man who helped create and shape today's environmental movement. Ranging from Dasmann's travels to ecological hotspots around the world to his development of concepts such as bioregionalism and ecotourism, this autobiography is a story of international conservation action and intrigue, a moving love story, and a gripping chronicle of an exceptional life. Dasmann takes us from his boyhood days in San Francisco in the early 1920s to his action-packed military service in Australia during World War II, where he met his future wife, Elizabeth. After returning to the United States, Dasmann received his doctorate as a conservation biologist when the field was just being developed. Dasmann left the safety of academia to work with conservation organizations around the world, including the United Nations, and has done fieldwork in Africa, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean, and California. This book is both a memoir and an account of how Dasmann's thinking developed around issues that are vitally important today. In engaging conversational language, he shares his thoughts on issues he has grappled with throughout his life, such as population growth and the question of how sustainability can be measured, understood, and regained.Called by the Wildtells the story of an inspirational risk taker who reminds us that "the earth is the only known nature reserve in the entire universe" and that we must learn to treat it as such.
Main Description
An autobiography of one of the founders of the conservation movement. Warm, personal, and gently humorous, Dasmann's memoir is also the moving and powerful love story of his 53 year marriage.
Main Description
A pioneer in international conservation and wildlife ecology, Raymond Dasmann published his first book, the influential text Environmental Conservation, when the term "environment" was little known and "conservation" to most people simply meant keeping or storing. This delightful memoir tells the story of an unpretentious man who helped create and shape today's environmental movement. Ranging from Dasmann's travels to ecological hotspots around the world to his development of concepts such as bioregionalism and ecotourism, this autobiography is a story of international conservation action and intrigue, a moving love story, and a gripping chronicle of an exceptional life. Dasmann takes us from his boyhood days in San Francisco in the early 1920s to his action-packed military service in Australia during World War II, where he met his future wife, Elizabeth. After returning to the United States, Dasmann received his doctorate as a conservation biologist when the field was just being developed. Dasmann left the safety of academia to work with conservation organizations around the world, including the United Nations, and has done fieldwork in Africa, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean, and California. This book is both a memoir and an account of how Dasmann's thinking developed around issues that are vitally important today. In engaging conversational language, he shares his thoughts on issues he has grappled with throughout his life, such as population growth and the question of how sustainability can be measured, understood, and regained. Called by the Wild tells the story of an inspirational risk taker who reminds us that "the earth is the only known nature reserve in the entire universe" and that we must learn to treat it as such.
Unpaid Annotation
"This graceful and readable book is the first-hand account of one who contributed in important ways to the ecological revolution that followed World War II, an encourager whose respect for nature and humanity shines through every page. . . . Inspired by others, he in turn gave inspiration to a generation that may have helped us to turn back towards collective sanity in our relationship with the Earth."--Peter H. Raven, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science"How the environmental movement came to be and the role he played in its emergence is the core of Ray Dasmann's story. Environmentalism did not just happen: people forged it from their passionate grief at the threat to our living world. Understanding that passion and that grief is the gift this volume has to offer."--Carl Pope, President of the Sierra Club
Table of Contents
Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Beginnings: The Lure of the Wild Country
School, the Woods, and War
Red Arrows Never Glance
Live Coward or Dead Hero?
Elizabeth's Story
Reunion
Transition
Deer
Arcata
Conservation by Slaughter
Return to the United States
Influences and Efforts
Too Many, Too Much
Uniting Nations
Return to Africa
Ecosystem and Biosphere People
The Edges of the Sea
The Incident in Kinshasha
Return to the South Pacific
Back to the Land
Damming Paradise
Other Ways of Life
Biosphere Reserves
Finale
Bibliography
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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