Remembering the late Peter Warshall, scientist and activist

2013-06-10T17:01:00Z 2013-06-10T18:13:01Z Remembering the late Peter Warshall, scientist and activistTony Davis Arizona Daily Star
June 10, 2013 5:01 pm  • 

Diana Hadley, president of the Northern Jaguar Project, wrote this tribute to her late husband, scientist and jaguar project board member Peter Warshall, who died at age 69 in late April following a lengthy battle with cancer.

"Peter’s amazingly wide range of biological knowledge combined with his down-to-earth practicality and incisive negotiating skills made him a crucial member of the NJP team," wrote Hadley, director emerita of the Arizona State Museum’s Office of Ethnohistorical Research. "His dedication to this project and his eloquence speaking on behalf of the northern jaguar was an inspiration."

Warshall, a biologist, author and editor for many decades, gained public recognition as science editor of Whole Earth Catalog and Co-Evolution Quarterly in the 1970s. A Harvard graduate, he wrote the first book about the ecology of septic disposal. While in Bolinas, CA. as an elected official, he implemented the country's first total recycling sewage system, Hadley wrote.

The jaguar project, working with the Mexican conservation group Naturalia, owns and manages the Northern Jaguar Reserve, containing 78 square miles of prime jaguar habitat. The Sonora-based reserve lies about 125 miles south of the Arizona border.

In the 1980s, while a University of Arizona adjunct scientist, Warshall spoke out against UA's then-proposed Mount Graham observatory, which he felt would jeopardize the endangered red squirrel.

Interviewed by the High Country News magazine in 1995, Warshall said  any conservation biologist should not "choose to be a wuss' and should instead act as "part lawyer, part teacher, part biogladiator ...

"I really feel the academics need to be tweaked a little bit. Fear of job loss or stagnation is what keeps the majority of biologists from becoming biogladiators," Warshall told High Country News. "Taking an active role in the politics of biology is not part of a lot of scientists' personalities. But biologists who don't speak out on biological issues become the passive accepters of the loss of biodiversity ... Even if you have an Endangered Species Act, it doesn't help if you have (agency biologists) unwilling to implement it."

This comment on Warshall came from the website of Westlawn Chapel and Mortuary in Tucson.

"I'm stunned and deeply saddened to learn of Peter's passing. Throughout my life he's been an environmental hero I've admired and looked up to - from the first time I got my hands on a Whole Earth Catalog. In the last decade I've had the great fortune to join Peter at various gatherings - he always taught you something about nature, the world and life in every conversation. There are many species besides humans who grieve his passing.' -- Gloria Flora

On the Northern Jaguar Project's website, bloggers Daniela Gutierrez and Javier Valenzuela Amarillas, who work on the Northern Jaguar Reserve, wrote last month that they were honoring Warshall's memory by naming a new jaguar cub they had recently photographed "Pedro."

"He was a wonderful person and such an enthusiastic member of NJP," they wrote. "Thank you, Peter. We will continue working for the jaguar, something that you loved so much."

 

 

 

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Star reporter Tony Davis covers topics in this blog that you have read under his byline for more than 30 years in the Southwest: water, growth, sprawl, pollution, climate change, endangered species, mining, grazing and traffic.

To reach Tony call 806-7746 (office) or 349-0350 (cell) or write him at tdavis@tucson.com.

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