This story was first published on June 27, 2019 and updated on July 2, 2019.
BOSTON — A trip to the Museum of New England earlier this month inspired J.F. Walsh’s latest creative project. Walsh — a professor of wildlife biology at Western Connecticut State University, retired field biologist, and associate editor of Environment — was part of a group of 32 Americans who, as part of their own time, spent nearly two years learning about and ultimately traveling through Canada. The group of individuals, including Walsh, surveyed, mapped, photographed, tagged, and wrote about their journey.
They journeyed the streets of Montreal, visited threatened habitat, and raised concerns about climate change. They also spent time in Ontario, B.C., and the Maritimes, trying to figure out what humans have done to the natural world and how its changes threaten the health of the planet.
Their experience was also shaped by a similar trip they made in 1973. Walsh, who was 19 at the time, embarked on the trip as part of an ecology degree project from the University of New Hampshire. His group was the first group in modern North American history to attempt to document all of the moose in the United States at the same time.
“I happened to discover the moose population in the late ’60s,” Walsh said. “I think as anybody who’s ever researched or studied moose, there’s a certain awe to them. It’s the largest land mammals in North America. There’s a lot of national mythology around them.”
Coincidentally, the 1973 trek in the Cascades and British Columbia resulted in an article in Science magazine, describing a detailed walk through the forests of northern British Columbia. Walsh and his colleagues spent more than seven months tracking and talking to moose hunters. They documented tracks and other physical evidence. They called the experience “Mooseistan,” an exploration of the moose’s habitat in north-central Washington.