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Osher Presenter Book Release: Journey of the Bitterroot Grizzly Bear

Journey of the Bitterroot Grizzly Bear book cover

Our spring 2020 lecture, “The Journey of the Bitterroot Grizzly,” presented by Steve Nadeau, will be rescheduled for spring 2021. The lecture is based on his book, Journey of the Bitterroot Grizzly Bear, which was released in April 2020 and is now available on Amazon.

“By completing this book, I was finally able to accomplish a primary goal I’ve had for many years. My intentions for the book were to improve public perception and knowledge of grizzly bears, as well as to chronicle the recovery effort and the hard work and collaboration of many biologists, conservationists, industry folks, and the general public on this unique recovery proposal. Scientists, students, and laypersons should walk away after reading this book with a better understanding of grizzly bears, policy and politics of wildlife management, and the tenuous efforts to reestablish a population in the Bitterroot Mountains of central Idaho and western Montana.” – Steve Nadeau

Here are a few excerpts provided by Steve Nadeau:

From Foreword by Rocky Barker

A new generation of Idahoans relish the state’s wildness and want to make room for its wild creatures—but also want a place for humans. Still, in the 22 million acres of wilderness and roadless lands in central Idaho, they have not made room for these creatures that still generate both fear and awe. Nadeau is arguably the bruin’s best advocate in central Idaho, and in Journey of the Bitterroot Grizzly Bear he tells the story of one recovery pioneer that found his way into this wildest heart of the American West.


WHEN YOU ARE IN THEIR REALM, grizzly bears don’t let you not think about them. They have a way of occupying your thoughts when every turn in the trail might be where you encounter the next grizzly. They have a way of hiding in the closet of your mind and opening that door in the quiet hours before you fall asleep. The sounds you hear at night just might be a grizzly rather than a deer licking the salt from your sweaty backpack.

The Den (the story of BB, the Bitterroot Bear)

A FULL MOON CAST LONG SHADOWS across the snow, and the subzero nighttime temperatures crystallized the moisture in the air. Despite a cloudless sky, a light snow fell. Howling of wolves could be heard in the distance, as the pack moved through the creek bottom, looking for a meal. A snowshoe hare quietly moved in the shadows of an old whitebark pine snag, unaware that seven feet beneath it, a 300-pound grizzly was giving birth.

Personal Stories

One sunny September morning, I was sitting against a blow-down snag glassing for grizzlies when I heard the snuffling of a female with cubs as they walked a few feet behind me. They moved around and below me, feeding on huckleberries, apparently unaware I was just a few feet from them. As the family fed, they moved below my perch, facing me. I froze, with my binoculars glued to my face, staring at the mother’s eyes, afraid to even breathe. When she stopped moving, she was at the base of the ten-foot cliff I was sitting on. She was so close her head took up my entire view. Her prehensile lips delicately selected the berries from the bush, better than my fingers could have, and an occasional flash of a large yellow canine tooth erupted from her lips, reminding me of her flesh-eating capabilities. Suddenly, she paused, stopped chewing, and with a huckleberry leaf sticking out of her mouth, looked up at me…


So research was initiated by IDFG, and researchers found that 54 percent of elk calves that died were being killed by black bears before they were two weeks old. Cougars killed 36 percent of the remaining calves that died before they reached six months of age.


Bitterroot recovery was happening at the same time as wolf recovery in Idaho and Yellowstone. Local citizens, industry, and state and local politicians were feeling railroaded by the federal government. The battles were likely more about who controlled the land and way of life than they were about wolves or grizzly bears. People saw their way of life fading as transplants from “back east” or the “left coast” moved into the West. Those newcomers saw the vast acreages of federal land as more than a resource for utility and commerce. They were challenging the Old West mentality and invoking a new philosophy of espousing natural processes such as predation, let-burn wildfires, and ecosystem management rather than maximizing timber or livestock production.

Available on Amazon for $18.95. Paperback. 322 pages with photos, maps, appendices. Foreword by Rocky Barker, retired Idaho Statesman reporter and author of two books about endangered species and Yellowstone, Saving all the Parts and Scorched Earth. Cover photo by Ian Mcallister. ISBN 978-1-0878-7249-0.