Grizzly Bear Science and the Art of a Wilderness Life: Forty Years of Research in the Flathead Valley

Rocky Mountain. Nov. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781771605656. $38. NAT HIST
Wildlife ecologist McLellan recaps his 43 years of research on the grizzly bears who roam the mountains of British Columbia, near Glacier National Park in Montana. By interlacing the bears’ narratives with stories of his family (his wife and their two children accompanied him during years of field research) he conveys the excitement, self-sufficiency, and wonder of living with these usually reclusive omnivores. But the real value of this book may be McClellan’s explanation of methods of studying wild animals in their ecosystems and the effects of human encroachment on their survival as individuals and species. He describes the techniques of collaring, tracking, and observing grizzlies, as well as how to design a study that answers questions scientifically, when so many variables are outside of the ecologist’s control. This first-person account opens up a detailed understanding of grizzly bears’ day-to-day lives: their habits, diet, cub-rearing strategies, and hibernation. McClellan’s research also confirms that grizzlies’ biggest threat and most prevalent cause of death is human overreaction to their perceived danger, plus human practices that attract and habituate bears to human life.
VERDICT Wildlife enthusiasts will get a front-row seat to the adventure and science of studying grizzly bears, while learning a great deal along the way.
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