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Signs of Life

Signs of Life

240 pages
Published:   April 16, 2024
Non-Fiction  /  Nature
Paperback:   9781773102887    $24.95

What’s to be done when only three spotted owls are left in Canada’s wild? When wolves eat endangered caribou, cormorants kill rare trees, and housing developments threaten a tiny frog?

Environmental journalist Sarah Cox has witnessed what happens when we drive species to the brink of extinction. In Signs of Life, she tags along with the Canadian military, Indigenous guardians, biologists, conservationists, and ordinary people who are racing to save hundreds of species before it’s too late.

Travelling across the country, Cox visits the Toronto Zoo, home of Canada’s only wildlife biobank, where scientists conserve living cells from endangered species in the event of future loss; tours Canada’s military bases, home to some of Canada’s last preserved ecosystems; and travels to Indigenous communities where land stewards are striving to restore the delicate ecological balance that has sustained people for millennia.

Through the eyes and work of individuals who are bringing species back from the precipice, Cox delivers both an urgent message and a fresh perspective on how we can protect biodiversity and begin to turn things around.
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Sarah Cox is an award-winning author and journalist based in Victoria, B.C. In May 2022, Cox won the Canadian Association of Journalists’ Award for Environmental & Climate Change Reporting and her investigative reporting for the Narwhal has also been awarded the World Press Freedom Award and the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Jackman Award for Excellence in Journalism. She has also won a Gold Digital Publishing Award with her colleagues at The Narwhal and previously won two Western Magazine Awards.

Cox’s 2018 book Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand Against Big Hydro won a B.C. Book Prize and was a finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing (Writers’ Trust of Canada) and the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature.


“Sarah Cox’s reporting on environmental issues has long been essential reading, and Signs of Life is no exception. Detailing everything from efforts to save the spotted owl in British Columbia’s old-growth forests to rare lichens in Nova Scotia’s disappearing woodlands, Signs of Life combines whip-smart reporting with an in-depth knowledge of conservation science to produce a persuasive call to act before it is too late.” — Suzanne Simard, author of Finding the Mother Tree

“It’s one thing to put your hand over your heart and wish endangered species the best; it’s quite another to make the tough decisions and engage in the practical work required to rescue them. Sarah Cox’s beautifully written book is both inspiring and a cold dose of reality. Either way, it’s a call to actually do something!” — Monte Hummel, President Emeritus, WWF – Canada

“Sarah Cox writes hard and unflinchingly about the ethics and difficult choices that have been and need to be made to slow the rapid extinction of so many species. There are unlikely allies here such as the Canadian military and many strategies such as preserving genetic material from endangered species. The book is never a rant: each strategy, every story, is presented with balance and clarity.” — Ed Sturzik, author of Dark Days at Noon

“In Signs of Life, Sarah Cox deftly guides us through landscapes of ecological destruction, while shining a light on the passionate people who have dedicated their lives to protecting species at risk. She lays bare what we must change if we are serious about protecting our fellow Earthlings. Life itself is on the line, and it could be said that there is nothing more heroic than saving an entire species from extinction. This powerful and timely book is a must-read for all heroes in the making.” — Ziya Tong, author of The Reality Bubble

“Featuring lively profiles and a sense of urgency, this text will appeal to those interested in the latest approaches to preserving biodiversity and restoring threatened species.” — Booklist

“One of the most important and relevant books I’ve read in the past year. Cox’s writing has made me re-think my naïve assumption that we can rely on governments to take appropriate action when it comes to endangered species.” — Miramichi Reader