Things | Artifact

Taking Care With Broken Things: How I Came to Practice Ethical Taxidermy

“I imagined that spending so much time with a dead thing might make death more understandable.”

I’m working on a full-body mount of a coyote. I began practicing taxidermy four years ago. I practice “ethical taxidermy,” which means I don’t kill things in order to mount them; instead, I pick up things that are already dead. Most of my collection is roadkill—I keep gloves, garbage bags, and a bone saw in my trunk in case I come across something worth saving. (Picking up roadkill is illegal in California, where I live, but I don’t consider it unethical.) Even in the worst cases, something can usually be saved: a bone; a bit of fur that I can make into jewelry, or maybe save to patch another damaged body.

photo courtesy of the author

I am going to dieknew

Please don’t let anyone in my family die, please don’t let me die

photo courtesy of the author

This is how a coyote’s shoulder works

Please let me understand, please make me ready, please make me not afraid

photo courtesy of the author