One reviewer described this book as “feral”. No. Far from it. It’s thoughtful and highly nuanced. Andrews describes his interactions with nature very carefully. His relationship to nature is based both on study and practical personal experience.
Mission Valley, Montana, is a place where mountainous wilderness and farmland intersect. Andrews works for People and Carnivores, a conservation organization with the goal “keep people safe and carnivores wild”.
“Millie” is a mature female grizzly bear with two female cubs. Andrews writes about one summer, when he begins a project to try to keep bears out of a cornfield. Grizzlies aren’t really carnivores – they are decidedly omnivorous and opportunistic. When human change the landscape, they take full advantage of new food sources. Grizzlies spend a third of each year in hibernation, so their drive to EAT is strong, especially during the Fall.
Millie came to Andrews attention because she was illegally shot and did not die. Her injuries became infected. She became weak and unable to care for her immature cubs. Captured by authorities and judged to be untreatable, she was euthanized. Her cubs, doing poorly on their own, were captured. After long and complicated negotiations, they were finally moved to a distant zoo which was willing to accept responsibility for their long-term welfare.
What’s the point here? This is a book about human responsibility. It’s also a book about wilderness. What was here before humans arrived? What has changed as humans migrated and our numbers skyrocketed?
This was Andrews’ second book. Click here to read my review of his earlier book, Badluck Way, in which he describes his earlier ranching experience. Both these books are wonderful, and will be enjoyed by anyone who values wilderness.