Dec 19, 2015

True Grizz

by Douglas Chadwick

This book is based on the author's work as part of a grizzly team. Well, really he tagged along as an informed observer. The team's job was to "educate" grizzly bears that had begun to associate people's homes with food- dogfood, grain for livestock, and you'd be surprised at how many bears love to eat birdseed. Not only did they constantly chase grizzlies away from habitated areas, using bear dogs, rubber bullets and a ton of noise, but also tried to educate local people about how to avoid attracting bears into their neighborhoods (whether it was inadvertent or on purpose, as in the case of a wildlife photographer who regularly put out food and was pleased when bears came by). They also personally removed tons of tempting items- including apples fallen off of trees and roadkill or dead livestock on ranches. In some cases the bears were starved from bad years of natural berry crops and the like, so the bear team would relocate carcasses or loads of apples, to give the bears something to eat in an area away from people. This because during their work tracking, collaring, catching and relocating bears they discovered that in most cases, moving a bear -no matter how far away- didn't work. The bear would simply come back to where it knew it could find food. So their job involved a lot of grizzle bear PR and attempts to give bears a negative association with populated areas.

Most interesting though, were the insights into grizzly behavior, and the stories of individual bears' lives that slowly unfolded through the bits of information learned in brief encounters or tracking data. Bears have very individual temperaments, each its own unique fishing style at salmon rivers, its own response to certain situations. This makes for pretty good reading. I felt bad for the many bears who simply couldn't find room to live in, without running into people. Or the bear that started hanging out at a zoo, interacting with a captive bear there. It came back so many times the zoo finally just put it in a cage.

Rating: 3/5        176 pages, 2003

2 comments:

Thistle said...

" Or the bear that started hanging out at a zoo, interacting with a captive bear there. It came back so many times the zoo finally just put it in a cage."

I wonder if that sort of counts as a happy ending? It seems like it would be better if the bear were free, but if it keeps going to see its zoo friends, maybe it would be happy enough there...

Jeane said...

I would hope so. There were only a few sentences mentioning that bear, no follow-up at all. I wonder if I could find an account of it online.