William H. Funk

Writer | Documentarian | Environmental Attorney

Staunton, Virginia

William H. Funk

I am a freelance writer with broad experience in natural and human history, land preservation, traditional cultures, and environmental law, policy and politics. I've also produced and directed documentary films.

This site houses my more recently published writing. For more expansive content please visit my website, hyperlinked below.


Where have all the lutungs gone? Mystery monkeys fast disappearing

When I mentioned to some friends that I was writing a piece for Mongabay about langurs, their perplexed reactions were similar: “I thought you were an environmental journalist?”. they said. “Why are you writing about long, tedious passages of fiction? Are you that into Henry James?”. When I assured them that rather than longueurs I was writing about langurs, an Old World family of monkeys, included within the lutung genus — animals facing daunting environmental challenges — I drew blank responses.
Mongabay Link to Story

Canada’s eastern boreal forest could become a climate change refuge

Mongabay Link to Story

In the Pipeline’s Path

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is one among several projects threatening rural Appalachian landscapes and communities. Bill and Lynn Limpert searched for years for a place to retire in the country. In April 2009, the couple from Frederick County, Maryland, finally settled on a small montane property near the village of Bolar in Virginia’s Bath County.
Earth Island Journal Link to Story

Poaching in Africa becomes increasingly militarized

On January 29, a 37-year-old Englishman and ardent conservationist named Roger Gower was piloting a helicopter over Tanzania’s Maswa Game Reserve when he spotted the corpse. With safari guide Nick Bester at his side, Gower, who worked for the nongovernmental Friedkin Conservation Fund, slowly circled the hacked and bloody elephant carcass below.
Mongabay Link to Story

An American Park

Shenandoah National Park pairs the crucial protection of wilderness with an ugly and undemocratic genesis. The park’s northern border is just 75 miles from the creeping sprawl of Washington, DC. It feels a world away, notwithstanding the geographic proximity of these disparate entities. Shenandoah National Park is notable for several reasons, most obviously because it contains the highest elevations eastward to the Atlantic, topped by Hawksbill Mountain at 4,049 feet.
Earth Island Journal Link to Story

A Century of Protecting Virginia's Wildlife Resources

In this era of reflexive disdain for “the government” generally, it’s important to remind ourselves of those agencies and public servants whose work, often underappreciated and rarely recognized, contributes so much to the health and happiness of the taxpaying citizenry. And when the benefits of their dedicated labor extend beyond the accommodation of purely human needs and desires, we are witnessing the unlikely combination of governance and altruism.
Virginia Wildlife Magazine Link to Story

An Agribusiness Revolution Is Needed to Save Africa’s Last Great Apes

Africa is similar to other developing regions of the world in that agriculture is central to the continent’s economy, composing almost one quarter of its GNP and employing nearly two-thirds of its labor force. Historically the loss of most wildlife habitat has been due to subsistence agriculture as a growing rural population met its dietary needs with small landholdings, and farmers cut trees, cleared brush and planted crops to directly support their families and livestock.
Mongabay Link to Story

South Asia’s Vultures Back From the Brink

Unlovely, unloved and utterly necessary for controlling disease and stabilizing ecological health, vultures are under attack around the world. In Africa, populations of a half-dozen species are nearing collapse due to a combination of human-caused killings ranging from poaching for bushmeat and religious objects to the deliberate poisoning of poached elephant carcasses to destroy the circling scavengers.
Discover Magazine's Crux blog Link to Story

Major Legal System Breakdowns Threaten Great Apes of Africa, Asia

The countries of Gabon, Liberia, Indonesia and Myanmar may not seem to hold much in common, but each of these countries — two in West Africa and two in East Asia — possess a priceless natural heritage that is quickly being extinguished: they are home to some of the world’s last great apes. Liberia and Gabon can boast of its chimpanzees, and Gabon can further brag about its lowland gorillas.
Mongabay Link to Story

What the World Would Look Like If Humans Hadn't Killed All the Animals

An African safari represents the highest form of interaction with terrestrial giants remaining in the world. The smell of sunlight on acacia leaves and sprawling vistas of ancient beasts going about their daily dramas invoke sublime memories of our shared past and an uneasy feeling of recognition.
Vice | Motherboard Link to Story

On the Hunt for Appalachia's Secretive Golden Eagles

Golden eagles are generally associated with the arid American West, but a small and genetically invaluable subpopulation breeds in Quebec and winters along the frozen spine of the Appalachian Mountains. I go looking for these apex predators one frigid afternoon and find them to be few and far between indeed.
Virginia Wildlife Magazine Link to Story

Iberian Lynx Is Back from Brink, But Still Faces Major Challenges

Captive breeding and habitat restoration efforts have helped revive the Iberian lynx, whose numbers had fallen to less than 100. But human development and the decline of its chief prey, the European rabbit, still threaten this elegant predator. Of all the world’s imperiled wild cats, few are as threatened as the Iberian lynx, whose numbers plummeted in 2002 to fewer than 100 individuals surviving in two isolated breeding populations in the southernmost Spanish province of Andalucía.
Yale Environment 360 Link to Story


William H. Funk

I was born in Kansas, grew up in Kentucky, went to graduate school in New England, and now live in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley where I work as a sometime documentary filmmaker and a full-time freelance writer of articles and essays dealing with the natural world, history, culture, law and politics. As an attorney I've worked extensively with state and federal governments as well as with various nonprofit groups on environmental issues dealing with land preservation, endangered species, clean air and water, and wetlands mitigation.

I am currently writing articles and essays for publication in a wide variety of magazines, including Slate, Humanities, Men's Journal, Virginia Wildlife, Grit, Birdwatcher’s Digest, The Southern Quarterly, History Today, The Utne Reader, African Wildlife News, Earth Island Journal, Wildlife in North Carolina, Blue Ridge Digest, Africa Geographic, Virginia Sportsman, Quest: The Science of Sustainability, Virginia Business, and others. After a year's autodidactic apprenticeship I am gradually learning the ropes of being a professional magazine freelancer.

Documentary filmmaking is another passion of mine. I enjoyed a month with Maine Media Workshops in the summer of 2011 where I wrote, produced, shot, edited and scored a short film concerning the reintroduction of declining seabirds to the Gulf of Maine, an opportunity funded in part through a Madson Fellowship awarded by the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Currently I'm directing a crew of a dozen volunteers in making a film to benefit a local dog rescue group.

I hold a JD and a Master's Degree in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School, the country's top environmental law facility, and have developed a reputation for elucidating complex legal, policy and scientific matters in illuminating and compelling prose. My relevant areas of expertise include endangered species and habitat preservation, hunting and fishing, federal lands management, wildlife crime, natural and human history, animal cruelty, wetlands mitigation, conservation easements, environmental law, wilderness issues, traditional cultures, and rural living and the rural economy. I've worked with numerous environmental NGOs and federal agencies and am a skilled and eager naturalist. I am a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Outdoor Writers Association of America, which awarded me their Madson Fellowship for excellence in craft.

I try to spend a maximum amount of my time outdoors - hiking, canoeing, birding, camping, fishing - though in point of fact most of my days are spent in the salt mines of freelancing: pitching, researching and writing. I enjoy literature, cinema, history, music, photography and dogs. Especially pit bulls.