Book: Mammals of Montana

Many wildlife guides claim to be “comprehensive,” but Mammals of Montana (Mountain Press, $32) by Kerry R. Foresman reminds us what that oft-abused term really means. Over 400 pages outline everything you wanted to know (and much you didn’t) about all the 109 mammal species with whom we share our great state. This scientist’s tome is heavy as a brick, teeming with distribution maps, ecological info, and spectacular photographs of mammals in their natural habitat. The author’s a serious biologist, and his book brims with esoteric details—skull images, charts and diagrams, a 19-page bibliography—but it’s also well-organized and accessible to the layman. Creative and clever photo captions break up the tedium of large text blocks, and interesting tidbits (ever wonder how pocket-gopher mounds are created?) keep the reader captivated. The book could use a tighter layout and cleaner copy-edit, and some of the photos are substandard—the cover, for example, looks Photoshopped—but all in all this is an excellent reference tool for anyone interested in the fauna of Montana.