Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist • 48(1): June 2016


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Having recently retired after 30+ years working in the field of human-wildlife conflicts, including predator conflicts with livestock, I looked forward to reading Varmints and Victims: Predator Control in the American West by Frank Van Nuys. As a wildlife biologist with an interest in the history of wildlife management in North America, I was further intrigued by the subject matter selected by Van Nuys.

In the book’s introduction, Van Nuys explains how the issue of mountain lion (Puma concolor) management in his home state of South Dakota sparked his interest in further exploring the history of predators and their management in the American West. Van Nuys is not a biologist, but as a professor of history, he seemed well suited to his intended task. He focuses his historical review on the predator-control policies and practices that have been directed toward gray wolves (Canis lupus), coyotes (C. latrans), mountain lions, and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos).