the Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear
by Bryce Andrew
This book is gritty honest and sobering about the conditions that pitch grizzly bears and man into conflict, but also full of beautifully lyrical writing about the landscape, people and animals. It really makes you feel you are there. The author writes about a particular valley in Montana where bears have been strongly attracted by the richness of crops, feeding on apple trees and gophers in fields instead of staying up on the mountainside eating things like cutworms and berries. Some bears discovered corn, and more and more came every year to ravage corn fields- and they are extremely dangerous because invisible inside the tall corn. The author became involved helping a rancher experiment with new fencing around his corn field, hoping to keep the bears out before the corn ripened. He writes about why bears in corn is bad all around- not only bringing them into conflict with people, causing huge amounts of crop damage and loss, making the bears unhealthy (corn is more fattening than their natural foods), young bears learning this as a prime food source which could put them in lifelong trouble with people. He brings his parents (artists and writers) to visit the field and see the bears, noting their different perspectives on the situation. He accompanies law enforcement to seek out a man who shot one particular female bear, maiming it in an awful way that left it suffering for months on end. He visits with leaders of a tribal group on a local reservation, to learn from and work with them resolving bear conflicts. And finally, he follows the fate of two young grizzlies – presumably orphaned by the injured bear. It all winds up in a sad place, was my thought.
Illustrated with black and white photographs. I borrowed this book from the public library. Similar read: True Grizz.
Rating: 4/5 274 pages, 2019