Cover image for Down from the mountain : the life and death of a grizzly bear / Bryce Andrews.
Down from the mountain : the life and death of a grizzly bear / Bryce Andrews.
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2019]
Physical Description:
274 pages ; 22 cm
The valley -- Newcomers -- Field and fence -- High summer -- The edge of the stand -- Seeing -- Reaping -- Fallow -- Visiting -- Hunters -- Millie's place -- The exhibit -- Near the woods.
"The story of a bear named Millie: her life, death, and cubs, and what they reveal about the changing wilds of the American West"-- Provided by publisher.
Geographic Term:


Call Number
Material Type
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599.78409786 AND Book Adult General Collection

On Order



"Andrews' wonderful Down from the Mountain is deeply informed by personal experience and made all the stronger by his compassion and measured thoughts... Welcome and impressive work." --Barry Lopez

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 few remaining large predators. Their range is diminished, but they're spreading across the West again. Descending into valleys where once they were king, bears find the landscape they'd known for eons utterly changed by the new most dominant animal: humans. As the grizzlies approach, the people of the region are wary, at best, of their return.

In searing detail, award-winning writer, Montana rancher, and conservationist Bryce Andrews tells us about one such grizzly. Millie is a typical mother: strong, cunning, fiercely protective of her cubs. But raising those cubs--a challenging task in the best of times--becomes ever harder as the mountains change, the climate warms and people crowd the valleys. There are obvious dangers, like poachers, and subtle ones as well, like the corn field that draws her out of the foothillsand sets her on a path toward trouble and ruin.

That trouble is where Bryce's story intersects with Millie's. It is the heart of Down from the Mountain , a singular drama evoking a much larger one: an entangled, bloody collision between two species in the modern-day West, where the shrinking wilds force man and bear into ever closer proximity.

Author Notes

BRYCE ANDREWS is the author of Badluck Way, winner of the Barnes & Nobel Discover Great New Writers Award, the Reading the West Book Award for nonfiction, and a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. He works with the conservation group People and Carnivores and has advocated for our public lands in front of Congress.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Andrews (Badluck Way), 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. He combines research with experience, paying particular attention to the bears that have recently started frequenting the cornfields near his home in late summer. Becoming hooked on corn intended for cows, the bears fattened up quickly and, "during their hungriest, most aggressive season," started encountering more people, frustrating area farmers to no end. This local story illustrates larger concerns, Andrews says, about how humans and wild animals are increasingly encroaching upon each other's previously separate environments. In the case of the bears, he asks what will happen when they no longer feel the need to forage in the wild. If they encroach even further on local farms and begin to raid backyard chicken coops, "they will almost certainly be shot for doing so in the years that follow." To ensure their survival, Andrews concludes, the bears must modify their behavior to avoid confrontation. Andrews's well-written cautionary tale leaves readers with the sobering message that humans must as well, if they are to be responsible stewards of nature. Agent: Duvall Osteen, Aragi. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

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 © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 The Valleyp. 1
2 Newcomersp. 15
3 Field and Fencep. 67
4 High Summerp. 89
5 The Edge of the Standp. 109
6 Seeingp. 129
7 Reapingp. 147
8 Fallowp. 187
9 Visitingp. 199
10 Huntersp. 213
11 Millie's Placep. 229
12 The Exhibitp. 245
13 Near the Woodsp. 257
Author's Notp. 271
Acknowledgmentsp. 273