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Vacher, Andre.

Saskatoon, Western Producer Prairie Books, c1985. 137pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-88833-162-2. CIP

Reviewed by Elinor Kelly

Volume 13 Number 6
1985 November

Originally published in 1982 as L'été du grizzly, this book has now been translated by Sheldon J. Lipsey for the English-speaking public. "This story is based on events that actually took place in the township of Banff in the Canadian Rockies late in the summer of 1980. For the purposes of the story, the names of the people involved have been changed.... For eleven consecutive days. . .the town was terrorized by a bear. On three different occasions the bear attacked four people, killing one and seriously injuring the other three."

The thesis of this piece of journalism is that modern civilization, for all its high technology, has no control over the hazards posed by wildlife and that very few visitors to parks realize this obvious fact. It is the "wise old trapper," the one who actually found the killer grizzly, who points out that humans and bears have never been friends and are still not today. So much for the wisdom of the park's staff and the scientists with their radar and tranquillizer guns. The management of wilderness areas (zoos too) for the protection of the wildlife and the safety of the visitors is a serious problem much under discussion at present. It is the park's staff who have the responsibility for preserving both bears and people. In the case of Banff, park staff wanted the garbage out. The townspeople wanted the garbage left because there had not been any attacks in the past while the bears were well fed at the dump. What is the answer? And what is the answer to all those foolish people who ignore warning notices and have no conception of the danger they are letting themselves in for?

What do you do if you are in danger? If it is a grizzly, do not run, do not shout, back slowly to a tree and climb out of reach. If it is a black bear, drop to the ground face down and roll yourself into a ball,...Hum.

In this book, the events are too fictionalized to give a clear picture of what happened, and matters are too oversimplified to help the reader come to a conclusion. Other books are coming out on the subject, and perhaps comparison shopping should be done, at least by those far away from the area under discussion.

Elinor Kelly, Port Hope, Ont.
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