Ohio was once covered by a thick forest and populated by a great variety of animals, but the first blows of settlers' axes heralded cataclysmic changes. By 1900 only about 15 percent of the state remained tree-covered. The effects of settlement upon native animal species varied widely, and the fortunes of many have risen and fallen more than once.
Large predators such as wolves, panthers, and bears disappeared early, as did big herbivores such as bison and elk. Hunters and trappers drove many furbearers out of existence, though wildlife managers have successfully reintroduced beaver and river otters in this century. Other mammals and birds, including white-tailed deer and wild turkeys, have also reappeared.
Human encroachment has had mixed effects among non-game animals: the barn owl population surged as farming provided meadows teeming with voles and other preferred food, then plummeted as families abandoned unproductive farms. Some reptiles have declined as a result of loss of habitat, and wetland draining and intensive farming have reduced amphibian populations. Coyotes and raccoons, hardy opportunists, have flourished in the human-dominated environment.
In Creatures of Change, Carolyn V. Platt examines two hundred years of wildlife in Ohio. Over a hundred color photos by Gary Meszaros complement the text. Written in an accessible style, the book will appeal to anyone with an interest in Ohio's wildlife, but it will also be a valuable reference for specialists.
The Kent State University Press is the publishing arm of Kent State University. Our imprint is controlled by an editorial board composed of Kent faculty scholars. As a member of the Association of American University Presses, the Press is included in the select group of more than 100 university-sponsored scholarly presses, whose outstanding programs make them an important segment of the academic and publishing communities.The Press began in 1965 under the direction of Howard Allen and published in the University faculty strengths in literary criticism. In 1972 Paul Rohmann became the Press’s second director and expanded the Press’s publishing program to include regional studies and ethnomusicology. In 1985 historian John Hubbell assumed the directorship and grew the staff and publishing program to include widely regarded lists in Civil War and Ohio history. Today, under director Will Underwood, the Press annually publishes two journals and 35 titles in history, literature, and regional studies that further knowledge of the humanities and preserve and promote a literate society.