Born and raised a suburban kid, Allen Rutberg did typical suburban kid things, except for his eccentric habit of disappearing into the unexpectedly wild forested parks of Queens, New York. When he wasn’t in the woods or on the basketball court, he read voraciously—Desmond Morris, Robert Ardrey, Jane Goodall—anyone who wrote provocatively on human origins and behavior, and our relationships with nature.
Fortified by training in zoology, animal behavior, and biological anthropology—Irven DeVore, co-editor of the ground-breaking 1968 Man the Hunter, was his first mentor (where did Allen go so wrong?)—Rutberg ventured west to study the behavior of bison, whose extended bouts of cud-chewing left him lots of time to gaze at pronghorn, peregrines, and peaks. Returning east to observe the wild mares of Assateague Island, he soon met up with Jay Kirkpatrick and John Turner who, by darting said mares with their infernal PZP vaccine, put an end to his incipient study of foal dispersal.
Not one to wallow in resentment, Rutberg joined Kirkpatrick and Turner’s immunocontraception research group, heading up the deer division. (Thanks, guys.) First as senior scientist with The Humane Society of the United States, and now as Director of the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy, Rutberg has spent more than two decades listening to, working with, and trying to understand his fellow suburbanites as they resolve their conflicts with wildlife, hopefully in ways that will leave them at peace with all their neighbors, human and wild.
Contributions to Humans & Nature:
- To Save the Wild, Leave Hunting Behind
A response to “Does hunting make us human?”
- Professor Rutberg’s faculty page
Find out more about Allen Rutberg’s research, publications, and teaching at Tufts University.