Book: Where the Grizzly Walks

Once king of the American West, the grizzly bear has been reduced to a small fraction of its former population, roaming only the wildest, most remote corners of Montana, Wyoming, and northern Washington. While unregulated hunting and human encroachment deposed this ursine monarch, what truly threatens its future is something else entirely. That’s what Bill Schneider suggests in his new book Where the Grizzly Walks: The Future of the Great Bear, an enlightening account of grizzlies, their place in modern society, and the handful of humans determined to keep them here. Schneider acknowledges that habitat destruction is a major problem for the bears of the lower 48 states, but “far more important,” he says, is the “fragile nature of social acceptance.”

Sweeping in scope, meticulously researched—and surprisingly objective coming from a former wilderness advocate and environmental firebrand—Where the Grizzly Walks serves to debunk many of the myths surrounding the big bruins. Of particular note is the widely-held—and, demonstrates Schneider, completely irrational—belief that bears are a deadly threat to humans (statistics show that a person is far more likely to lose his life to a household appliance than a grizzly). Throughout the book, Schneider explores the controversial issues surrounding grizzly bears with skill, humor, and a judicious, balanced mentality. Do bears provide economic value to Western communities? Are they important components of the ecosystems in which they live? Can we tolerate an occasional human death at the hand of a grizzly? Where the Grizzly Walks answers these questions and more with compassionate, pragmatic insight—and a clear vision of what must be done to keep the grizzly in our midst. Interspersed throughout the book are Schneider’s many personal encounters with Ursus arctos horribilis during his 40-plus years living in bear country. The result is a refreshingly accurate portrayal of the grizzly bear, and a compelling, poignant plea for its preservation.