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Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear

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The story of a grizzly bear named Millie: her life, death, and cubs, and what they reveal about the changing character of the American West.   The grizzly is one of North America’s last large predators. Their range is diminished, but they’re spreading into the West again, where once they were king. The challenge: humans rule the roost now, and most are wary, at best, as g The story of a grizzly bear named Millie: her life, death, and cubs, and what they reveal about the changing character of the American West.   The grizzly is one of North America’s last large predators. Their range is diminished, but they’re spreading into the West again, where once they were king. The challenge: humans rule the roost now, and most are wary, at best, as grizzlies approach.     In searing detail, award‑winning writer, Montana rancher, and conservationist Bryce Andrews tells us about one such grizzly. Millie was a typical mother: strong, cunning, fiercely protective of her cubs. But raising those cubs was hard. The mountains were changing, as the climate warmed and people crowded the valleys. There were obvious dangers, like poachers, and subtle ones, like the corn field that drew her into human territory, and sure trouble.     That trouble is where Bryce’s story intersects with Millie’s. He shares both in Down from the Mountain, showing how this singular drama is a piece of a much larger one in the West: an entangled, bloody collision between people protecting a life they’ve known for generations, and the people fighting to preserve one of America’s wildest landscapes.


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The story of a grizzly bear named Millie: her life, death, and cubs, and what they reveal about the changing character of the American West.   The grizzly is one of North America’s last large predators. Their range is diminished, but they’re spreading into the West again, where once they were king. The challenge: humans rule the roost now, and most are wary, at best, as g The story of a grizzly bear named Millie: her life, death, and cubs, and what they reveal about the changing character of the American West.   The grizzly is one of North America’s last large predators. Their range is diminished, but they’re spreading into the West again, where once they were king. The challenge: humans rule the roost now, and most are wary, at best, as grizzlies approach.     In searing detail, award‑winning writer, Montana rancher, and conservationist Bryce Andrews tells us about one such grizzly. Millie was a typical mother: strong, cunning, fiercely protective of her cubs. But raising those cubs was hard. The mountains were changing, as the climate warmed and people crowded the valleys. There were obvious dangers, like poachers, and subtle ones, like the corn field that drew her into human territory, and sure trouble.     That trouble is where Bryce’s story intersects with Millie’s. He shares both in Down from the Mountain, showing how this singular drama is a piece of a much larger one in the West: an entangled, bloody collision between people protecting a life they’ve known for generations, and the people fighting to preserve one of America’s wildest landscapes.

30 review for Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Mission Hills, Montana, a place that has long harbored and protected grizzlies. Millie's Woods, named after a grizzly who has roamed the woods theere, giving birth to several cubs. As more and more people move into the area, farmers, survivalists, people who just want to be alone, and of course those with no good intention, the grizzlies territory is shrinking. Now they are running into man and what man thinks is his. When the grizzlies discover corn fields, they decide to stay within the protec Mission Hills, Montana, a place that has long harbored and protected grizzlies. Millie's Woods, named after a grizzly who has roamed the woods theere, giving birth to several cubs. As more and more people move into the area, farmers, survivalists, people who just want to be alone, and of course those with no good intention, the grizzlies territory is shrinking. Now they are running into man and what man thinks is his. When the grizzlies discover corn fields, they decide to stay within the protected stalks, eating away, causing huge monetary losses for the farmer. This is a story of Millie, her fate and the fate of her two youngest cubs. A story of those who want to protect these animals, and how they try to do so. When an author is do passionate about his subject it is impossible not to be drawn into the story and into his heart. As mankind goes about killing anything that gets in their way, men and women like those in this book, may well be the last defense. If you're an animal lover, an environmentalist, this story will be heartbreaking. The author says it best in these words, "Knowing how we have misused land and wildlife, I have precious little faith in humankind. I think it likely that we will go on wrecking the beautiful world. But, I put my hope in bears of Baptiste's sort ---hardy, seeking adaptable creatures. They will find away around or through our constructions to places that once belonged to them. Given the merest chance, they will live." One can only hope. ARC from Netgalley.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erin McCarthy Greene

    Read this book! I happened upon this book as a new acquisition at my public library. I have an interest in wildlife conservation, especially the management of large predators in close proximity to populated areas. I was intrigued by the concept of a book about the life and death of a grizzly, a sort of wildlife conservation who-dunnit. I picked up the book on a Saturday and finished it on Sunday.....feeling cheated when I had to leave the book to do other things. Bryce Andrews weaves the story of Read this book! I happened upon this book as a new acquisition at my public library. I have an interest in wildlife conservation, especially the management of large predators in close proximity to populated areas. I was intrigued by the concept of a book about the life and death of a grizzly, a sort of wildlife conservation who-dunnit. I picked up the book on a Saturday and finished it on Sunday.....feeling cheated when I had to leave the book to do other things. Bryce Andrews weaves the story of Millie and her coming into conflict with civilization - and the aftermath - with such precision, such craft, that I felt like I was reading a novel. Every "character," human and animal, is real, accessible, understandable. He lived the story and did his research to fill in any gaps. He is a very gifted storyteller. He shows a deep respect for the need to keep what is wild, forever wild.....and for us humans to be aware of and prepared for potentially deadly encounters with predators. The whole story emphasizes the importance of preventing human/grizzly encounters and the responsibility humans have to ensure prevention. I will likely never live where I will encounter a grizzly, but Andrews makes all of his readers (Westerners and us East Coasters) feel deeply about the outcome for Millie and her cubs. If you care about wildlife conservation, read this book....and tell your friends to read it. I chose completely at random to read it, and I am so very glad I did!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    This is a heartfelt account of Millie, a grizzly sow with two cubs in tow, who is enticed down the mountain by a farmers corn crop. I loved the feeling the author conveys when he knows he is in bear country as I could relate because I was in Montana and Canada when I read this one. Nothing quite like being miles from your car, passing several signs about bear country, and then hearing a noise in the woods. It makes you hyper aware of your surroundings. The tragedy that happens, and how unnecessa This is a heartfelt account of Millie, a grizzly sow with two cubs in tow, who is enticed down the mountain by a farmers corn crop. I loved the feeling the author conveys when he knows he is in bear country as I could relate because I was in Montana and Canada when I read this one. Nothing quite like being miles from your car, passing several signs about bear country, and then hearing a noise in the woods. It makes you hyper aware of your surroundings. The tragedy that happens, and how unnecessary the outcome was, when nature meets man, was heartbreaking. This is yet another story of the impact that an out of control growth, and gradual push out of all things wild, has steadily caused many unforseen consequences. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in nature and the destruction we cause with our consumption. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with this arc available through edelweiss.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vishal Katariya

    Learnt a lot about bears. Note to whoever is reading this: please don't plant corn next to hills and forests where grizzly bears are known to live. You might think it'll kill you, but it actually kills the bears.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shaun Jones

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Eye opening look at the state of grizzlies in Montana & how man’s never ending conquering of the land inevitably leads to conflict. Conflict that usually ends poorly for the bears. It’s obviously a very complicated issue & the book does a great job explaining it. Written with great prose. The story of MILLY & her cubs isn’t a happy one, but there is some redemption in the end. Great read & highly recommend.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Told with compassion and understanding of both nature and man, this book provides a viable perspective on the tragedies that can occur when the two intersect.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    Great writing!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amy Sprenger

    Heard an interview with this author on NPR and was intrigued. A fantastic read, could not put it down. His description of walking in a corn field knowing there were bears nearby was riveting and I held my breath the entire time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    CS

    I genuinely do not understand the positive reviews of this book. It is 98% diatribe about building an electric fence. Coming off the high of reading the phenomenal American Wolf book, I thought I would foray into a grizzly book and Amazon suggested this one. The great bulk of this book is devoted to the testing an electrical fence around a corn field to prevent crop loss by consuming grizzlies. To call this the “life and death” of a grizzly is entirely misleading. You learn nothing of the sow Mi I genuinely do not understand the positive reviews of this book. It is 98% diatribe about building an electric fence. Coming off the high of reading the phenomenal American Wolf book, I thought I would foray into a grizzly book and Amazon suggested this one. The great bulk of this book is devoted to the testing an electrical fence around a corn field to prevent crop loss by consuming grizzlies. To call this the “life and death” of a grizzly is entirely misleading. You learn nothing of the sow Millie’s actual life and what occurs to her (and given the brevity the book spends on her) could be summed up in two sentences.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susan Kendrick

    Great nonfiction examining the interaction between man and large predator in Montana. The author does a good job of presenting the problems and potential solutions without showing bias or passing undue judgment on any of the players involved. His writing style was a little on the poetic side, but not overly floral. I’d recommend this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    What American Wolf did for the wolves, so Down From The Mountain does for grizzlies. A beautifully written narrative that follows the life and death of one of the majestic grizzlies of Montana and shows us just what extraordinary creatures the bears are. The perfect book for your animal and nature reader!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carla (Carla's Book Bits)

    Wonderful and absolutely beautiful. I read a copy pre-publication for free from NetGalley in exchange for a review, but despite that, I want to go and buy my own copy full price to read and treasure over and over again. More thoughts to come!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    Thanks to Edelweiss and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for sharing the advance copy of this book. I’m not sure what possessed me to request this, as I don’t usually read books about animals or nature. But I’m so glad I did. The author’s descriptions of the cornfield struck a visceral reaction within me (fear I think) and his empathy for the bears was touching and very moving. A worthwhile read for all.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Janette Mcmahon

    Well written, highly readable book on Western conservation of grizzly bears and the changing environment due to climate and human behavior. Beautiful descriptions of the area, of both the different types of people as well as the landscape. Highly recommend to anyone interested in nature and conservation.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Andrews does a magnificent, if thorough, job describing the Montana environment -- especially that of Schlock's field and Millie's Woods -- as well as his fears, hopes, and apprehensions with the conservationist work he was doing in trying to balance the collision of man and wilderness; civilization and the feral. The only reason I go 4 stars rather than a perfect 4 (despite hating rating systems) is that Andrews strays at the end of the book, tacking on a needless 20-30 pages to "neatly" wrap up Andrews does a magnificent, if thorough, job describing the Montana environment -- especially that of Schlock's field and Millie's Woods -- as well as his fears, hopes, and apprehensions with the conservationist work he was doing in trying to balance the collision of man and wilderness; civilization and the feral. The only reason I go 4 stars rather than a perfect 4 (despite hating rating systems) is that Andrews strays at the end of the book, tacking on a needless 20-30 pages to "neatly" wrap up the season's narratives. Sure, we all want -- NEED--closure but that's what a concise epilogue is for rather than 3 extra chapters. That said, please write more Mr. Andrews. Not just about grizzlies (the reason I picked up the book in the first place having an almost unhealthy fascination with bears) but the continued (im)balance of a changing climate, changing habits, and that push/pull of man meeting beast and neither surrendering when compromise is sorely needed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amy Pickett

    As grizzly bears gravitate to agricultural crops in Montana's Mission Valley — especially corn — opportunities for dangerous encounters with people increase. The author's quest to find a solution that protects both people and bears parallels the journey of Millie, a grizzly bear named for Millie's Woods, and her two female cubs. Down from the Mountain's subtitle reveals Millie's fate. Her story "embodies the violence that mankind inflicts everywhere on wilderness and wild creatures." It's a trag As grizzly bears gravitate to agricultural crops in Montana's Mission Valley — especially corn — opportunities for dangerous encounters with people increase. The author's quest to find a solution that protects both people and bears parallels the journey of Millie, a grizzly bear named for Millie's Woods, and her two female cubs. Down from the Mountain's subtitle reveals Millie's fate. Her story "embodies the violence that mankind inflicts everywhere on wilderness and wild creatures." It's a tragic story, to be sure, but one that should be widely read by anyone who cares about nature, wildlife, and the changing American landscape. And I believe that should be all of us. After all, “The climate is changing, and empty places are filling up … and the vessel that holds us cannot grow.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hergett

    In “Down from the Mountain” we learn how Bryce Andrews went from rancher to conservationist who works with non-profit People and Carnivores, which focuses on the intersection of wilderness and development. We learn about a conflict in a corn field in the Mission Valley and Andrews’ work to keep bears from gorging on the easy meal. More importantly, though, Andrews takes us inside the mind of bear Millie, as she traverses the mountains and leads her cubs to the fields. These sections of imaginativ In “Down from the Mountain” we learn how Bryce Andrews went from rancher to conservationist who works with non-profit People and Carnivores, which focuses on the intersection of wilderness and development. We learn about a conflict in a corn field in the Mission Valley and Andrews’ work to keep bears from gorging on the easy meal. More importantly, though, Andrews takes us inside the mind of bear Millie, as she traverses the mountains and leads her cubs to the fields. These sections of imaginative prose make the writing and the story come alive.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Deena

    I gobbled up this book like a grizzly bear in two evenings. Couldn't put it down. Andrews weaves together the story of a particular bear, the story of his work helping reduce human-carnivore conflicts in Montana, and the culture, science and terrain of the region. It's great "new journalism" and quite beautifully written. I especially valued the portrait of complex relationships among native and non-native communities, as well as the ingenuity of the solutions being tried by Andrews and others h I gobbled up this book like a grizzly bear in two evenings. Couldn't put it down. Andrews weaves together the story of a particular bear, the story of his work helping reduce human-carnivore conflicts in Montana, and the culture, science and terrain of the region. It's great "new journalism" and quite beautifully written. I especially valued the portrait of complex relationships among native and non-native communities, as well as the ingenuity of the solutions being tried by Andrews and others he described.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne S

    Listened to audiobook in brief chunks; probably would have enjoyed it more with better focus. The fate of Millie the Grizzly in Montana is given away in the subtitle and the book’s blurb. The book provides the gruesome details of how and why she died, and you learn a bit about the fate of her bereaved cubs. Was hoping for more beautifully written passages about Montana wilderness. Three stars; liked it enough to listen to the whole book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Excellent telling of the life and death of one grizzly, Millie, and how her story likely emulates that of many other beats living on the fringes of encroaching people and cultivation as the climate, like everything else, changes and evolves. Andrews tones his prose down from his first book and much for the better here. The story is linear and sparse like a Montana farmer set out to accomplish straightforward tasks. Great read for anybody who wants a glimpse of the changing west.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rick Mitchell

    This is a wonderful account of the author's interaction with grizzlies in Montana. The writing is almost poetic, making it an ode to the animals while outlining in stark realism the pitfalls of man and grizzly interaction.

  22. 5 out of 5

    MSM

    Just couldn’t get i to it and didn’t finish it. Read 140 pages and to that point all about building the electric fence - I probably abandoned the book as it was getting to the grizzly, Millie but I was just done.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Walling

    I almost didn't read this because I had a feeling I wasn't going to like the ending, and I didn't. Glad I read the book because it's well written and compelling and really gives you an understanding of both the bears and the issues around them.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    Very well-written. Enjoyed his style of writing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gaby Chapman

    Andrews nails the dilemma of the nexus of wilderness and human civilization in this personal story tracing the tragedy of one grizzly bear.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dick Whittington

    Enjoyed the story of Millie and her cubs...but hated what happened to them (and all of wildlife) as man invades their world and how this affects their lives and future. Will we ever learn?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    This is story about the shooting of a bear,in Montana .its sad and also true. There are feeling in the writing of this story

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne Cumby

    Well written, compelling and fascinating on so many levels. Read it!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    nonfiction ecology/biology a little long-winded but still engrossing story for people who admire bears.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Terry Earley

    https://radiowest.kuer.org/post/2019-... requested 5-24-2019

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