From an early age, Bailey developed an affinity for animals, observing their behaviors and eventually collecting specimens for closer study. He developed his own traps for catching mammals, birds, and reptiles and taught himself taxidermy from a book. When he was twenty-one, Bailey began sending samples of the animals he preserved to C. H. Merriam, the chief of the newly created Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy of the USDA, later renamed the Bureau of Biological Survey and now the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Merriam was so impressed with Baily’s work that he hired him, appointed him special field agent, and promptly sent him to the “inner frontiers” of the western and southwestern United States, despite the fact that Bailey had no formal training in biology.
During his long career, Bailey kept detailed field notes, chronicling his travels and wildlife observations. These writings provide fascinating insight into not only people’s relationships with and efforts to understand wildlife but also the ways the country was rapidly growing and changing at the beginning of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Published by Texas A&M University Press