Dominion of bears: living with wildlife in Alaska.

Dominion of bears: living with wildlife in Alaska. Sherry Simpson.
Dominion of bears: living with wildlife in Alaska.

Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2013. Octavo, dustwrapper, colour photographs.

A long-time Alaskan, Simpson offers a series of compelling essays on Alaskan bears in both wild and urban spaces, because in Alaska, bears are found not only in their natural habitat but also in cities and towns. Bringing together field research, interviews, and a host of up-to-date scientific sources, her finely polished prose conveys a wealth of information and insight on ursine biology, behaviour, feeding, mating, social structure, and much more. Simpson crisscrosses the Alaskan landscape in pursuit of bears as she muses, marvels, and often stands in sheer awe before these charismatic creatures. Firmly grounded in the expertise of wildlife biologists, hunters, and viewing guides, she shows bears as they actually are, not as we imagine them to be. She considers not only the occasionally aggressive behaviour bears need to survive, but also the violence exacted upon them by trophy hunters, advocates of predator control, or suburbanites who view bears as land sharks that threaten the safety of their families. Shifting effortlessly between fascinating facts and poetic imagery, Simpson crafts an extended meditation on why we are so drawn to bears and why they continue to engage our imaginations, populate indigenous mythologies, and help define our essential visions of wilderness.

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