2007 Small Newspaper


A rash of mysterious elk deaths in Wyoming in 2004 left scientists and game wardens wondering what had happened. Frazer described the steps by which researchers determined that a poisonous lichen was the likely cause. In a two-part series, Frazer also described efforts to save the remaining elk and help the species recover. Calling her series an example of “superb local science writing,” Robert Lee Hotz of The Wall Street Journal said Frazer “opens a window into the mysteries of field epidemiology, turning a story of doomed elk into a page-turner of a lethal botany and the consequences of ecology.” Guy Gugliotta, a freelance science writer formerly with The Washington Post, said the series was a “compelling narrative detective story that shows how science can be put at the services of a community and why it matters.”

Jennifer Frazer said the subject gripped her from the outset. “It had the allure of a detective story and an unlikely culprit: a small green lichen that most people wouldn’t notice if they walked right over it,” she said.