Book: Mark of the Grizzly

In Mark of the Grizzly, Livingston resident and environmental authority Scott McMillion explores the conflict between society’s admiration for bears and its actions related to bear habitat and control. The book is a collection of several stories of bear encounters from 1977 to 1997 in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, and around Montana, Alaska, and British Columbia. A blurb on the cover promises Stephen-King-like suspense and the book delivers. These dramatically written accounts will captivate even the most distracted of readers. But Mark of the Grizzly is more than just a collection of bloody, violent bear-attack stories; each of McMillion’s “grisly bear” tales offers a lesson about avoiding, preventing, and reacting to bear-human clashes, while revealing the questionable effectiveness of bear spray and guns. McMillion is careful to point out that this endangered species fundamentally avoids conflict but acts naturally when it feels threatened. Ultimately, Mark of the Grizzly scrutinizes the attitudes surrounding bear-human relations and lands squarely on the bears’ side. “Holding a grudge against bears,” McMillion writes, “would be like holding a grudge against automobiles because one of them cracked your head open or broke your leg on an icy street.”