cover image Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear

Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear

Bryce Andrews. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-328-97245-3

Andrews (Badluck Way), a conservationist and rancher in Montana’s Mission Valley, examines dramatic changes in the local bear population, which once “lived a grizzly’s solitary life,” but now show up regularly near human dwellings searching for food, in his compassionate study. He combines research with experience, paying particular attention to the bears that have recently started frequenting the cornfields near his home in late summer. Becoming hooked on corn intended for cows, the bears fattened up quickly and, “during their hungriest, most aggressive season,” started encountering more people, frustrating area farmers to no end. This local story illustrates larger concerns, Andrews says, about how humans and wild animals are increasingly encroaching upon each other’s previously separate environments. In the case of the bears, he asks what will happen when they no longer feel the need to forage in the wild. If they encroach even further on local farms and begin to raid backyard chicken coops, “they will almost certainly be shot for doing so in the years that follow.” To ensure their survival, Andrews concludes, the bears must modify their behavior to avoid confrontation. Andrews’s well-written cautionary tale leaves readers with the sobering message that humans must as well, if they are to be responsible stewards of nature. Agent: Duvall Osteen, Aragi. (Apr.)