Saturday, July 06, 2024

Review: "A Hunt for Justice" against wildlife poaching

 A Hunt for Justice: The True Story of an Undercover Wildlife Agent

Lucinda Delaney Schroeder

Lyons Press, 2006, 270pp

 A compelling account from a law enforcement branch most of us know little about. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has its own agents who often go undercover as hunters to bust poachers. This book centers on the author’s time in Alaska, with no way to call for help and an unreliable civilian informant partner, as she gathers evidence on a major poaching operation. The poachers are hunting guides who assure their clients a kill, even from a protected area or species, by any means necessary. That includes illegally exhausting and herding prey with airplanes and even doing the shooting and giving the client the credit.

We know, since she wrote the book, that Lucinda survives, but it’s VERY chancy, and the author’s unadorned but very effective writing keeps the tension up at all times. Lucinda's toughness, hunting skills, and ability to translate for disgruntled Spanish clients get her in the good graces of the ringleader, who she knows will kill her if she's discovered. The danger rises with the arrival of a new client - a man she once fined for poaching and who will recognize her if they meet.  She finally gets enough evidence and gets out of the hunting camp alive, elated: only to learn she has to get statements from Spanish and German clients of the illegal operation. They are back in Europe, with no reason to cooperate except she’s holding their trophies in the US. We get many more tense moments as Lucinda, who seems to exaggerate her authority a good bit to get the job done, wheedles and presses until she obtains the needed statements in Spain (Germany will not cooperate.)

She closes with a list of the jail time, fines, forfeited equipment, and forfeited trophies meted out as she – and the animals – finally get justice. It’s a very good book, still relevant today, by an incredibly courageous woman who gives us a window into the scale of poaching and the underfunded, outnumbered agents who try to police it.

Matt Bille is a writer, historian, and naturalist living in Colorado Springs. He can be reached at Website:

Read Matt's Latest book, Of Books and Beasts: A Cryptozoologist's Library. This unique reference offers a friendly skeptic's 400 reviews of books on cryptozoology, zoology, related sciences, and cryptozoological fiction.
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