Watch the Bear


Watch the Bear

A Half Century with the Brown Bears of Alaska

Derek Stonorov

240 pages
28 photographs, 1 map


March 2023


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2023


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2023


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Derek Stonorov has spent the better part of fifty years watching brown bears as a research scientist and guide in some of Alaska’s most beautiful wild places. As a dyslexic kid who was more interested in hunting and cars than academics, he managed to collect objective data as well as make observations and insights about what he learned to call “the community of bears.” Watch the Bear takes the reader from the 1960s—when salmon were plentiful, Stonorov’s hair was long, and he could spend an entire summer watching hundreds of bears without seeing another human—to today, when bear guiding companies are ubiquitous and solitude in bear country is a whole lot harder to find.

Mixing memoir, anecdotes, and science, Stonorov provides an inquiry into brown bear communication and social behavior as well as advice on living in harmony with bears. Through good science made accessible with stories, Stonorov offers readers an engaging and breath-taking journey into the world of a legendary but often misunderstood species.

Author Bio

Derek Stonorov is a retired wildlife biologist and guide working out of Homer, Alaska. He has educated hundreds of students, photographers, filmmakers, scientists, and tourists about brown bears. Stonorov has written articles for Natural History magazine and produced booklets for Alaska Fish and Game, the Nature Conservancy, Alaska Audubon, the National Park Service, and others. He has also written and directed several films, including the award-winning Way of the Bear.


"'Watch the Bear' is the title of this book, and it's what Stonorov does on nearly every page. Through a series of interesting, sometimes funny, and occasionally hair-raising stories, he encourages readers to do likewise. Be cautious and respectful, he advises, but not fearful. Watch the bears. They have a lot to tell us."—David James, Anchorage Daily News

"Readers with any curiosity regarding humans' encounters with other species in the environment will find Stonorov's view of his own life in nature worthwhile."—J. Kemper Campbell, Lincoln Journal Star

“Now we can say that Derek Stonorov literally ‘wrote the book’ about the behavior of Alaska’s coastal brown bears. As a pioneer and continuing expert in the field, he not only shares his half century of learning but proves himself to be a superb storyteller. This book will fascinate anyone interested in animal or human behavior or in the process of scientific inquiry.”—Nancy Lord, author of Beluga Days and Early Warming

“Derek Stonorov has spent much of his life studying brown bear behavior in Alaska as a graduate student, staff member of the world-famous McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, and brown bear viewing guide. His new book chronicles half a century of his remarkable field experience with brown bears. Not only is Derek a good scientist; he has also written a fun and thrilling story about the behavior, ecology, and conservation of Alaska brown bears as well as the challenges, excitement, and responsibility of living in harmony with bears. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the conservation of brown bears and their Alaska wilderness habitat.”—John Schoen, author of Tongass Odyssey: Seeing the Forest Ecosystem through the Politics of Trees

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part 1. Beginnings
1. We Thought the World Would Never Run Out of Wild Animals
2. Causation and Function
3. Meeting Molly
4. My Best Choice
5. Egegik and Akutaq
Part 2. Lake Becharof
6. First Bear
7. A Dance of Displeasure
8. Now I Understand—Social Bears
9. Becharof Days
10. How Do You Know That?
Part 3. McNeil River
11. Big Rock Candy Mountain
12. Sex, Drugs, and Confrontation
13. Signals and Rituals
14. The Crux of the Biscuit—Extraordinary Bears
15. Higher Education
16. Hell for Stout
Part 4. Individuals and Opportunists
17. Return to McNeil
18. Being Alpha
19. Where the Bears Are
20. Ages and Stages
21. Bonds and Maturity
22. Freude der Bären
Part 5. Watch the Bear
23. Alaska Bear Quest
24. Ephraim River
25. Bear Watching
26. Snow Bear
27. Sterling
28. Safety in Bear Country

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