Thor Hanson was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where he now lives on an island with his wife and son. He caught his first salmon at age four, and often collected a wide array of temporary summertime pets, from caterpillars and tadpoles to garter snakes, hermit crabs, and tree frogs. His early interest in the natural world steered him towards a career in conservation biology. Hanson received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands, his master’s from the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist Program, and his doctorate in a joint program through the University of Idaho and the Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza, Costa Rica.
Hanson’s research and conservation activities have taken him around the globe. He has studied Central American trees and songbirds, nest predation in Tanzania, and the grisly feeding habits of African vultures. He served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda, where he helped establish the mountain gorilla tourism program in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and he has also helped manage a brown bear tourism project for the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska. He often works at the interface between natural and human systems, and is currently involved in a project assessing the ecological impacts of warfare.
Hanson is a Switzer Environmental Fellow, a member of the Human Ecosystems Study Group, and an independent conservation biologist based in the San Juan Islands. He has received research grants from the Organization for Tropical Studies, the DeVlieg Foundation, and the National Science Foundation’s IGERT Program, among others. He teaches field courses, reviews for academic journals, consults for conservation groups and government agencies, and is a sought-after public speaker. His books include Feathers, The Impenetrable Forest, and the co-edited volume Warfare Ecology. He has contributed chapters to Wilderness Comes Home and One Hand Does Not Catch a Buffalo, and his articles and essays have appeared in a wide range of popular and scientific publications, including Bioscience, Molecular Ecology, The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Neotropical Ornithology, The Journal of African Ecology, Biotropica, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, The Huffington Post and The Los Angeles Times.
When he’s not looking through binoculars, scribbling field notes, botanizing, or searching for bird nests, Hanson may be found playing upright bass with the San Juan Jazz Quintet.