From 2006-2010, Jonathan Slaght studied Blakiston’s fish owls in Russia for his PhD degree in Wildlife Conservation at the University of Minnesota. His memoir of this quest, called “Owls of the Eastern Ice,” was published earlier this year and longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Here, he will describe the owls and his project, including details of fieldwork and the conservation outcomes.
Slaght is the Russia & Northeast Asia Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society. He manages research projects involving endangered species such as Blakiston’s fish owls and Amur tigers, and coordinates WCS avian conservation activities along the East Asia-Australasian Flyway from the Russian Arctic to the mudflats of Southeast Asia.
Slaght’s writings, scientific research, and photographs have been featured by the BBC World Service, the New York Times, The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, The New Yorker, and Audubon Magazine, among others. In addition to the National Book Award nomination, his book “Owls of the Eastern Ice” received rave reviews from The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and more. Helen Macdonald, author of “H is for Hawk,” called it “an old-school, tautly strung adventure.”