conservation movement.Novak had grown up nearby, in a house his father built on the edge of South Dakota’s Badlands, where he went out hiking every day looking for fossils.
Once he saw two golden eagles with their talons locked together, spiralling in the air. So he never paid much attention to a dead bighorn sheep – there were plenty of live ones roaming the park, along with bison so numerous they often blocked the road.Then, when Novak was around 14 or 15 years old, he looked at the little plaque, which said the bighorn sheep had become extinct in the area and been reintroduced, as had the bison and elk.
That realisation, Novak says, helped spur him to devote his life to recreating extinct species – chiefly the passenger pigeon, which was once so numerous in the eastern US that its flocks were said to block out the sun, but which died out in captivity in 1914.‘People lived with those birds, people got to see those birds, and then people in history robbed me from getting to have the same incredible experience,’ says Novak, now 35, who lives in North Carolina with his young twins. ‘When one of the things that thrills a person is going out and seeing wildlife, it’s impossible not to feel like you’ve been personally robbed by the extinctions of the past few decades.’Today Novak is part of a growing movement trying to bring about the ‘de-extinction’ of lost species through genetic engineering.Read more on telegraph.co.uk