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Fifty miles outside of Rome live the rarest grizzlies on earth.
In Italian, there is no word for wilderness. Yet in the mountains of Italy, brown bears not only exist, they are fighting to survive amid encroaching development, local and international politics, and the mafia. This meticulously researched and eye-opening book tells the incredible stories of two special populations of bears in Italy – one the last vestige of a former time that persists against all odds, the other a great experiment in rewilding that, if successful, promises to change how we see not only Italy but all of Europe.
The Abruzzo bears of central Italy have survived amid one of the oldest civilizations on earth – but now, with numbers estimated at as low as fifty individuals, they face a critical future as multiple forces, from farmers to the mob, collide within their territory. The Slovenian bears of northern Italy, brought to the Alps at the turn of the century, have sparked controversy among local and international interests alike. The stories of these bears take readers on a spectacular journey across Italy, where we come face-to-face not only with these fascinating species but with embattled park directors, heroic environmentalists, innovative scientists, and a public that is coming to terms with the importance of Italy's rich natural history.
Award-winning author Roger Thompson has traveled throughout Italy documenting the history and current crises of these bears, and the result is an engaging and in-depth examination that resonates across all endangered species and offers invaluable insights into the ever-evolving relationships between human and non-human animals in a rapidly changing world.
- Banff and Reno
Part I: A Tale of Two Bears
- Wilderness and Italy's Alpine Bears
- Italy's Ancient Bears
Part II: Orso Bruno
- A Time to Make Friends
- A Bear Is Born
- Bruno Attacks
- The Hunt for Bruno
- Bruno, Enemy of the State
Part III: The Last Bears of Abruzzo
- Italian Grizzlies
- Endangered Lives and Livelihoods
- Classifying Hope
- Ursus arctos marsicanus
- The King Who Launched a Movement
Part IV: Bandits and Bureaucracy
- Uso Civico
- Fade Out
- Pax Romana and the "Nature Tax"
- The Cows of Little Tibet
- The Blue Snow of Abruzzo
- Rewilding the Mob
Part V: Resurrecting the Wild
- Save the Bears
- Loi and Loss
- Beautiful Minds
Part VI: Father Bear
- The Limits of Science
Roger Thompson is an award-winning nonfiction writer and director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stony Brook University. A former wilderness canoe guide for a Minnesota camp and the founder and director of an environmental program in Banff, AB, he currently lives in New York with his wife and son.