Friday, December 9, 2016

Speaking of Bears

Book: Speaking of Bears
Basic Information : Synopsis : Thoughts : Evaluation : Book References : Good Quotes
: Table of Contents : References

Basic Information:
 Author: Rachel Mazur
Edition:Paperback from Fresno County Library
Read: December 9, 2016
257 pages
Genre:  History, Non-Fiction,  Science,  Outdoor
Rated: 5  out of 5

Bears are the subject of this book. The book starts with how bears work-their biology. After this primer, Dr Mazur talks about a how park visitors through the ages. Originally park policy was using garbage dumps as a form of bear attraction, even setting up bleachers for tourists to observe the bears.

After realizing this was creating a problem, the author goes through the various attempts and misguided directions to remedy the problem.  After various trials (and tribulations), there was attempts to research how to handle bears-including either relocating problem bears, or even the destruction of them. As the parks got a handle on the bear problem in high density places like Yosemite Valley and Giant Forest, more incidences occurred in the backcountry.  Dr Mazur goes through the development of backcountry food storage-both the failures and successes.

My first thought was how could people be so:
  • stupid around bears
  • mean towards them
  • ignorant towards finding out how to handle them.

Next thought is, I thought I knew how to hang food. She points out the 92% of the people who think they know how to hang food do not do it right. Only 3% of food hangs are done properly. I am now wondering if I am doing it correctly. On the other hand, 40+ years of backpacking I have not had food taken from me. Lucky?

In the history, she talks about various places where bears were encouraged to go after garbage. It was a great tourist attraction. One of these places was Bear Hill near Giant Forest. We went on a hike there this September and was wondering how it got its name.

Bears are fascinating and destructive, lovable (from a distance) and a nuisance.  Dr Mazur explores the interaction between bears and humans and how the park service has tried to mitigate the harm these interactions have done on both sides. As a former park bear technician she know the problem and history first hand.

Dr Mazur is principally concerned with the bears in the Sierra Nevada's and particularly with Yosemite and Kings Canyon/Sequoia. She traces the attitudes and  actions of those who interact with bears from the time of the Grizzly to current.  She does this through a series of interviews and letters with both current staff and those in the past. Many of these are humorous (several nights I kept my wife up by my snickering).  Mazur presents her material well with deep research.

If you have had any interaction with bears, this book is a good read for you.  I am glad I read this book.

Book References:
  • There are eight pages of references

Good Quotes:
  • First Line: Speaking of Bears is not your usual collection of bear stories.
  • Last Line: Finally, it is clear that, as George Durkee likes to remind us by quoting Mel Manley, “One must never underestimate an animal that can ride a bicycle.
Table of Contents:
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • The Basics
    • The Demise of the Grizzly Bear in California
    • A Primer on Black Bear Biology
  • Creating the Problem
    • Enter the Visitors
    • Buying Off the Bears
    • From Bear Pits to Trash Cans
    • From Trash Cans to Cars
    • Closing the Dumps
    • Two Styles of Controversy
  • The Aftermath
    • Research in Yosemite
    • Research in Sequoia
    • Being Proactive – Food and Trash
    • Being Proactive – Education and Enforcement
    • Being Reactive – Trapping, Immobilizating and Marking
    • Being Reactive – Relocation, Hazing and Aversive Conditioning
    • Oversight and Implementation
    • From Cars to People – Injuries
    • Continued Problems, Continued Destruction
  • Meanwhile, in the Backcountry
    • Historic Backcountry Use and Incidents
    • Beginning of the Counterbalance
    • End of the Counterbalance
    • Sneaking Lockers into the Backcountry
    • Backcountry Research and the Invention of the Canister
  • The “Final” Push
    • Funding – Two Different Styles
    • Modern Committees, Research, and Plans
    • Being Proactive – Take II
    • Being Reactive – Take II
    • Modern Decisions on Destruction
    • Hidden Death Trap
    • Back in the Backcountry
  • A Draw?
    • The Issues of Today and the Prospects for Tomorrow
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Index
  • About the Author


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