Bjorn Dihle’s new book explores humans’ complex relationship with brown Alaskan bears and grizzly, And traces the history of our interactions – from Meriwether Lewis to Theodore RooseveltAnd the Douglas Peacock And Timothy Treadwell. Shape in the Dark: Live and Die with Brown Bears (Mountaineers Books, $ 18) also includes a deep personal reflection as Diehl, Alaska writer, nature guide and hunter, weaves his extensive experience in narration. “Live and work with [brown bears] It inspires humility, respect, and sometimes fear, ”says Diehl, who describes many wonderful (and sometimes close) encounters with brown bears.“ My goal in writing this book was not to be another scary bear book. That proved difficult. An aggressive brown bear can be terrifying, but the myths of the demon beast surrounding them that the media perpetuate are not true. “
Shape in the dark It is a page-turning tool, enhanced by Diehl’s intimate knowledge of Alaska’s coastal landscapes and wildlife. It’s also a call to action to rediscover Roosevelt’s passion Public lands, Peacock’s practical sympathy for wildlife conservation, and Aldo Leopold’s wise admission that humans are part of the landscape, not far from it. We met Dihle among the director film teams in Southeast Alaska.
Men’s magazineEarly in the book, I wrote, Before I Can Remember Fear, to describe the first moments of our encounter with a brown bear. This appears to be a fitting description of replicating your fascination with bears – equal parts love and fear – in your book. Why is this an animal that is polarizing to you?
Bjorn Diehl: I don’t know if “polarization” is the right word. I recently returned from directing a three-week brown bear filming on the outer coast of southeast Alaska. It was early in the season and for the most part there was only a handful of the big males awake. They were almost nocturnal and would often visit our camp at night to check us out. After sunset one evening, while we were clinging to a dead whale on the beach, one of the largest and most dominant bears took its head out of the woods and made us our size. The bear waited until it was too dark to photograph and then descended into the whale. He understood that he had an advantage in the dark. Watching this gigantic animal with all its strength and intelligence left us in awe and a touch of awe.
In a sense, your feelings reflect the attitude of humans toward bears – at least the shift you describe in the historical parts of the book, which is the transition from Hugh Glass and Grizzly Adams to Roosevelt and Doug Peacock. Can you talk about why you care so much about human attitudes toward brown bears (and grizzly bears) over time?
All of these historical figures contribute to our understanding and beliefs about brown bears, ourselves, and the rapidly shrinking wilderness areas of North America. Roosevelt’s legacy of public lands is so deeply ingrained in me that whenever I see a fence or trespass sign I back off. One of the reasons my older brother stopped hunting bears was because he watched Werner Herzog Grizzly manAbout Timothy Treadwell. The montage of the footage depicting Treadwell is disturbing on many levels, but what impressed my brother the most was how the film showed how bears resemble humans.
You describe talking to bears during a confrontation. What does it mean to do for you?
It can de-escalate a really tense confrontation. Brown bears are anxious, intelligent, and good at communicating. Often standing up, taking a step forward, or raising an arm slowly will dissuade the bear from approaching. Speaking softly can calm a really anxious animal. Less is more most of the time. One of the upset bears I talked to for 10 minutes maybe at five yards at last I lay down finally gasp and let me and the people with whom I was slowly back down. I’ve had moms with cubs who actually think charging and talking to them. Sometimes communicating with bears seems easier than communicating with people.
What are the myths specifically to combat them in writing this book?
Ninety-nine percent of [brown bears] She does not want to attack you. They just want to be left alone. Almost every aggressive encounter is caused by people’s fault. More than 2,000 brown bears are killed every year in Alaska by sport hunters. Most of the years no one was killed by an Alaskan brown bear. So who is the scary between the two types?
Do you like working as a guide to spotting wildlife? How do you reconcile the intrusion into the lives of bears?
People need to see and share with brown bears and wild places if we are to succeed in maintaining habitats and healthy populations in the future. I have mixed feelings about the time I spent as a guide to seeing the bear. I find it difficult to get people out who want something unattainable; At the same time, I enjoy being with people who truly appreciate wildlife and wild places. This will be my second year not guiding bear watching, and instead, I’ll only be directing wildlife movie crews. I enjoy this type of work a little more because it’s more varied, challenging, and involves a lot of time sitting and waiting. I have to go whole days without talking. Most camera operators have lived interesting lives and feel what I do about the wildlife, habitat, and importance of conservation.
What gives you from your experience hope for the future?
It all goes back to the habitat – especially the salmon habitat – and making sure brown bears have plenty of wildlife. There are a lot of people who care about this stuff, even if most politicians stick to the philosophy of rape and pillage in relation to the land. Alaska still has a lot of space, but our salmon have a problem. The future is worrisome, but I have repeatedly seen what One tired, angry one can do for conservation.
Looking for more summer reading?
Hudson Bay Pound: Two women, one dog, 2,000 miles from the North Pole (University of Minnesota Press, $ 24): Canoe and kayak Natalie Warren’s new contribution travel book to the magazine is a fickle read, describing the 2011 canoe voyage from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay with Ann Rieho. Warren’s story is humble and fun, and captures the joys (and challenges) of a long journey with a good friend.
Watch Raven: A Life of Alaska by Richard K. Nelson (Mountaineers Books, $ 24): In this award-winning biography, author Hank Linnner tells the story of his friend Richard K. Nelson, influential ethnographer and environmentalist, writer and broadcaster. Lentner combines Nelson’s magazines and extensive correspondence with his admiration for Nelson to create a profound self-portrait of great environmentalist.
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