Praise for Down from the MountainGrand Prize Winner of the Banff Mountain Book Competition Montana Book Award Honor Title An Amazon Best Science Title of 2019 A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Title of 2019An EcoWatch Best Book of April A Missoulian Best Book of AprilA Chicago Review of Books Best Book of April "The two sides of Bryce Andrews — enlightened rancher and sensitive writer — appear to make a smooth fit...Precise and evocative prose." —Washington Post "Andrews’s writing about wilderness is much like that of author Rick Bass, who displays both a healthy reverence for ecology and an easy way of talking about it. This story is not just about Andrews’s shift from rancher to conservationist. It’s an ode to wildness and wilderness in the form of grizzlies. It’s about the tightrope bears walk between living in their mountainous territory, consuming pine nuts, army cutworm moths, and winterkill, versus coming down the mountain to scavenge in human territory. It’s about the resulting relationship between humans and grizzlies when they live in close proximity." —Outside "[A] soulful new exegesis on ursid-hominid relations...Down From The Mountain showcases a writer whose talents have fully matured...Down From the Mountain belongs in the pantheon of contemporary conservation writing. It is easy to forget, when arguing over the fate of wildlife, that populations are composed of thinking, feeling individuals; in his sensitive treatment of an ill-fated ursid, Andrews breaches the fences that guard our compassion." —Ben Goldfarb, High Country News “Bryce Andrews’ wonderful Downfrom the Mountain is deeply informed by personal experience and made all the stronger by his compassion and measured thoughts. He outlines clearly the core of a major problem in the rural American West—the disagreement between large predatory animals and invasive modern settlers—without disrespect and without sentimentality. His book is welcome and impressive work.” —Barry Lopez “In some of the clearest prose the state of Montana has produced, this high-octane story captures the marvel that is a grizzly giving birth in the high wild, follows her down into the human interface, and floods us with the heightened awareness and humbling unease we feel in the presence of Ursus arctos. When the hubris of man-unkind then threatens his protagonists, Andrews lays his life on the line in a sustained attempt to protect them, and the suspense of the telling comes to rival a great crime thriller. Rife with lyrical precision, first-hand know-how, ursine charisma, and a narrative jujitsu flip that places all empathy with his bears, Down from the Mountain is a one-of-a-kind triumph even here in the home of Doug Peacock and Douglas Chadwick.” —David James Duncan, author of The River Why and The Brothers K "Would that we had more nature writing like Bryce Andrews’s fantastic second book, Down from the Mountain. Part biography of the Mission Valley in Montana, informed by the Blackfeet and Salish histories rooted there, it tells a moving modern tale of how ranchers and big predators overlap uneasily on that land today...Down from the Mountain eschews easy moral scrimmaging...A subtle and beautifully unexpected book...Readers hungry for yet another torch bearer to the ways of thinking of the wild that Barry Lopez and Leslie Marmon Silko made possible should look no further." —Literary Hub "A cautionary tale of human-grizzly coexistence (or lack thereof). The book helps to illustrate the broader issues affecting grizzlies as their populations grow, pushing them closer and closer to humans." —EcoWatch "The reader learns the history of the Salish land, and the varied newcomers to the valley and efforts to preserve and protect the grizzlies." —The Missoulian, "Montana Bookshelf" "Beautifully written...Andrews conveys his passion for the west’s landscape and inhabitants through his sensitive writing, which avoids either anthropomorphizing the wildlife or villainizing ordinary people...His book is a testament to his compassion." —BookPage "Andrews' writing reaches high peaks in Down from the Mountain...Andrews artfully describes the awe inspired by grizzlies...Down from the Mountain’s prose ranges in tone from graceful to elegiac to gripping." —Pacific Northwest Inlander “In stunning prose, as powerful as the grizzly itself, Andrews’s draws the reader into the mysterious lives of these bears. From deep in their pungent winter dens we emerge with them into the spring light, pad along forest trails, smell every molecule of wild and human. We are also the farmer, sweat-soaked, protecting the sweet corn. When these two worlds—bear and human—collide, all is unpredictable and precarious. Down from the Mountain will sear its beauty and sorrow into your soul. Required reading for all Homo sapiens.” —Elisabeth Tova Bailey, author of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating “The fluidity of Andrews’ imagination and the reality of his time on the ground with people and bears make this book a piece of true history. He is not a journalist, but a participant with skin in the game, who happens to be an excellent writer. Putting up fence along the porous line between humans and big, foraging bears, Andrews is the one you'd want telling this story.” —Craig Childs, author of The Animal Dialogues and Atlas of a Lost World “In Down from the Mountain, Bryce Andrews walks the harrowing line between wilderness and civilization—as in literally walks it, recounting his own efforts to keep a space in the world for the untamed creatures that remind us who we are in the first place. Writing with a keen empathy for both the great grizzlies of Montana’s Mission Mountains, and the farmers and wildlife officers coping in the valley below, this book is by turns heartbreaking and hopeful, even while it zings along with the high-stakes pace of a thriller. It’s as true as it gets.” —Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses “Returning home from ten days in the backcountry, I devoured this fabulous and feral book in a single sitting and found myself utterly immersed in the ‘unforgiving arcadia’ that is our vanishing West. ‘Bears are made of the same dust as we,’ John Muir reminds us, and this marvelous narrative, even in passages devoid of humans—perhaps especially in those passages—draws us into communion with these uncompromisingly powerful wild creatures, to the heartbreaking consequences of our inevitable encounters with them, and to one man's profound compassion for them. For two decades as a hunter, angler and hiker I’ve traversed the very country described herein. I have never seen it with such sustained clarity as through the vital lens of Bryce Andrews’ luminous prose.” —Chris Dombrowski, author of Body of Water “A thoughtful story of bears, humans, and their tragic interactions...A gem of environmental writing fitting alongside the work of Doug Peacock, Roger Caras, and other champions of wildlife and wild land.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred “Andrews, a conservationist and rancher in Montana’s Mission Valley, examines dramatic changes in the local bear population, which once ‘lived a grizzly’s solitary life,’ but now show up regularly near human dwellings searching for food, in his compassionate study...Andrews’s well-written cautionary tale leaves readers with the sobering message that humans must [modify their behavior], if they are to be responsible stewards of nature.” —Publishers Weekly “This fascinating, well-researched, and lyrical memoir will appeal to conservationists, those curious about large predators, and readers who relish stories of the West.” —Library Journal “[A] lyrical exploration of an attempt to accommodate two disparate goals—the dairy farmer's need for the corn to feed his cattle and the grizzly's need to eat and fatten up during the short Montana summer…Andrews' empathic writing turns Millie's story into the embodiment of modern compromise with apex predators.” —Booklist
Award-winning author Andrews (People and Carnivores) delves into the lives and habits of grizzly bears in Montana's Mission Valley. Many of these animals have developed a taste for corn, bringing them into close contact with ranchers, farmers, and wildlife biologists in the region resulting in inevitable conflicts between bears and people, and causing bears to abandon their traditional sources of food in the higher mountains. Using private and federal funding, Andrews builds and tests a short electric fence surrounding a local dairy farmer's cornfield to determine if it deters grizzlies. Intertwined with his experiment is the story of Millie, a sow with two cubs, from her birth in the mountains to her death. Andrews attempts to find a home for her two young cubs and follows the federal investigation into the bear's death. With his knowledge of grizzlies, research into bear biology, and Millie's radio collar data, Andrews narrates the story as it might have happened and describes the impact of grizzlies losing their wilderness over time. VERDICT This fascinating, well-researched, and lyrical memoir will appeal to conservationists, those curious about large predators, and readers who relish stories of the West.—Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove, IL
A thoughtful story of bears, humans, and their tragic interactions.
"Mouse-brown fur covered their strangely human bodies. Their eyes opened, seeing nothing for a time, then spring's white light." Montana-based conservationist Andrews (Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West, 2013) writes without sentimentality or undue anthropomorphizing of a pair of grizzly cubs whose mother, Millie, was brutally murdered, leaving the cubs orphaned and helpless. "Millie's story…bothered everyone who heard about it," writes Andrews, having told an elegant story in which he himself encountered the trio. As a conservationist, he is in full sympathy with the bears; as someone living on the land, he recognizes the perils for all concerned when bears, hungry in a landscape with less and less game on it, come down into the cornfields below the high country. "My father asked what I thought about the farmer growing corn so close to the mountains," writes the author. "I said that it was complicated." Andrews introduces readers to numerous men and women who figure in the quest both to track down the poachers involved and to keep the cubs alive. One, the game warden for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, is a quiet warrior for the bears even as others demand that they be kept away from human settlements. As the author notes, the collision course was set not just by hunger, but also by the ever encroaching human presence, even in vast Montana, and on a changing climate in which spring arrives a full month earlier than it did half a century ago, altering the long-established schedules of bears and people alike. In the end, Andrews writes, dispiritingly, "it seems that I could spend a lifetime building cornfield fences, worrying over cubs, and shipping elk meat to Maryland, and make no headway against our epidemic lack of restraint."
A gem of environmental writing fitting alongside the work of Doug Peacock, Roger Caras, and other champions of wildlife and wild land.