Says Darren, blogging about his mummified fox : “I think everyone seriously interested in animals collects dead animals, or bits of dead animals.”
Certainly this is true of me, and of most other naturalists I know. The comments turned into reports on collections. Mine, responding to and quoting an earlier one, was:
” “Those of us just here in the US just twiddle our thumbs wishing we could, as it’s illegal to own so much as a contour feather without a permit.”
“What kind of naturalist would be stopped by that? (;-))
“Seriously, only non- game protected birds are illegal. Anyone can keep any part of game birds, any parts of mammals & reptiles (unless there are local ordinances against it or they are endangered) and insects. I have all of the above, bones, skins, skulls, feathers, skins… also, a licensed falconer (which I am) can have parts of the birds they keep (except eagles after death, which go to the Federal repository). I stop for roadkill.
“I have a wife who is as fascinated as I am by all this, tolerates my many dogs and my falcon in the alcove between kitchen and dining room, and creatures in the freezer.
(I just lent a ten- years frozen falcon to a sculptor friend for her to cast. I knew I kept it around for a reason!)
“What else? I have guns too. Just don’t ask about the penguins…”
I added as a PS: “I used to keep a “dermie” colony that John McLoughlin and I stocked by beating dry cow and horse carcasses at the town dump with our walking sticks. Alas, I gave them up when I feared for my insects, and the dump no longer has a section labeled “Dead Animals”. Change comes even to rural New Mexico.”
There were at least two better, though:
“I regret pitching this really cool scat many years ago. It was a big furry black bear poop with part of the striped pelt of a chipmunk in it. I can’t believe I threw away the pride of my scat collection.”
“What’s really disturbing about the mummified fox is the way that Darren holds it in his lap and absentmindedly scratches its nape while sipping absinthe and chanting under his breath. Also, he insists that all visitors refer to the mummified fox as Colonel Humphrey, avoid eye-socket-contact, and “try not to piss him off.””