In America’s Midwest, where “wilderness” is in short supply, working to defend what’s left of Iowa’s natural resources can be both a daunting and an entertaining task. In Wildland Sentinel, Erika Billerbeck takes readers along for the ride as she and her colleagues sift through poaching investigations, chase down sex offenders in state parks, search for fugitives in wildlife areas, haul drunk boaters to jail, perform body recoveries, and face the chaos that comes with disaster response. Using an introspective personal voice, this narrative nonfiction work weaves stories of Iowa’s natural history with a cast of unforgettable characters. Wildland Sentinel touches on what it means to be a woman working in the male-dominated field of conservation law enforcement. 

“Chock full of shenanigans of both the animal and human variety, Erika Billerbeck’s Wildland Sentinel is an intelligent and thoughtful journey exposing the diverse challenges faced by modern game wardens.”—Andrea Lankford, author, Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks

“From tales of hilarity, interesting characters, and challenges found patrolling Iowa’s natural areas, Conservation Officer Billerbeck takes readers into her realm with deeply personal, bare, and inspiring accounts. From stolen boats, poachers, and accidents to recurring nightmares and anxieties, Billerbeck expertly writes with compassion and skill. A must-read for those wondering what it takes to protect nature from people, people from nature, and people from themselves outdoors.”—Brian Button, editor, Iowa Outdoors Magazine

“Wildness is not just in Yosemite; Erika Billerbeck shows us the surprising places it persists. Here is a new nature writer of remarkable powers, patrolling the gravel roads of Iowa with a pistol at her waist. Her gritty work gives me chills.”—Jordan Fisher Smith, author, Nature Noir: A Park Ranger’s Patrol in the Sierra

“Erika Billerbeck strikes me as one tough-as-nails state worker. This clear-eyed account of Iowa’s thorny wilderness is recommended reading for any lover of the outdoors. Her lifelong dedication to her native state and its shrinking green bounty confirms that our wild areas indeed have an inspiring protector.”—Tim Fay, editor, Wapsipinicon Almanac

“Officer Billerbeck has captured the essence of a profession whose dedicated men and women have embraced a way of life, rather than just a job, protecting at great personal cost what is often intangible so future generations may enjoy Iowa’s wildlife and outdoors.”—Chuck Humeston, retired officer, DNR Conservation Law Enforcement

“The organization of this book is masterful, the stories had my attention from beginning to end, and some parts read like an intensely personal and honest diary. It is a perfect mix of action and reflection in which Billerbeck’s passion for conservation and law enforcement shines.”—Meleah Droll, Coralville Police Officer

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Publication Date
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6 × 9
20 b&w prints