Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species Paperback – May 17 2011
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"With this book - the best ever to be written about polar bears - we are blessed with the opportunity to benefit from Ian Stirling's extensive knowledge and life-long experience with this magnificent animal.
"He shows us that the far North is not a barren and hostile environment, but unique and beautiful. The new knowledge presented in this book is crucial for conservation and management of Arctic nature and its polar bears.
"Read Ian Stirling's book, admire the pictures and enjoy."
-Dr. Thor S. Larsen. Founding member of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group and former Head of Biology Department and Director of Research at the Norwegian Polar Institute
"For over thirty years now, whenever there is debate over polar bears, I have turned to Ian Stirling not just for definitive facts and figures, but for genuine wisdom and perspective. To work with Ian in the field is to experience a man entirely at home in the Arctic environment, not unlike the bears he knows so well".
-Monte Hummel, President Emeritus, WWF-Canada.
"Ian Stirling's groundbreaking studies of polar bears laid much of the foundation for both current research on the species and our present day understanding of them. No one can now look at these highly intelligent, threatened creatures without worrying about a world that could cause their possible extinction - and wondering how we have allowed it to come to this point. We must take action. As this book clearly illustrates, their loss would be our loss as well."
-- Robert Buchanan, President/CEO, Polar Bears International
About the Author
As a Research Scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta, Dr. Ian Stirling has studied the behavior, population ecology, and predator-prey relationships of polar bears for 40 years, longer than anyone else in the world.
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Stirling, a Canadian research scientist, is regarded as one of the world's foremost polar bear authorities. In this text, he draws on his forty years of research as well as research by others to produce an in-depth examination of polar bears. Subjects covered include, among others, mating, denning, hunting, social interaction, physiology and habitat. Each topic is richly illustrated with photographs which show not only the beauty of these great animals and the environment in which they live, but the complexity of their lives and behaviors. The photographs alone could comprise a book worthy of praise, but Stirling couples these photographs with scientific-based, but comprehensible and engaging text. If I had to recommend only a single book on polar bears, this text would be it. I only wish the book had been released in hardback.
Other worthwhile books on polar bears include:
Nikita Ovsyanikov's Polar Bears: Living With the White Bear for first hand accounts of polar bears by a researcher living among them on Wrangel Island, Russia (the DVD Polar Bear Alcatraz centers around Ovsyanikov on Wrangel Island);
Thorsten Milse's Little Polar Bears Notecards for beautiful photography of polar bear mothers with cubs coming out of the den in Spring;
Richard David's Lords of the Arctic: A Journey Among the Polar Bears, an older (1982), but good overview of polar bears;
Norbert Rosing's The World of the Polar Bear and
Helen Thayer's Polar Dream: The First Solo Expedition by a Woman and Her Dog to the Magnetic North Pole for her first hand accounts of polar bear encounters during the author's journey by ski to the magnetic North Pole from Resolute, Alaska (her experiences with polar bears on her journey are more arguably edifying than much of the scientific literature summarizing human-polar bear encounters).
This is just a starter list - there are a multitude of good books on polar bears, but Stirling's book should be at the top of any list.
A book essentially dealing with the arctic habitat in general, and polar bears in particular. Thus highly recommended for a much wider readership than just polar bear enthusiasts.
It has a multitude of photographs, some showing bloodied carcasses being eaten or the bodies of dead creatures. Nothing is gory - just the realism of nature. There are charts and maps to show data. Comparisons are made between polar bears and grizzlies and hybrids. What comes through in a mind-boggling manner are the amazing hunting skills of the polar bear. We are witness to all aspects of its life.
Subjects covered are: present day numbers, the origins, polar bears and humans, what makes the bear tick, reproduction, behavior, hunting by the bears, life and death and a chapter on the polar bear capital of the world, conservation - past and present, environmental concerns, climate warming, the future. There is a glossary and an index.
This book is well researched and presented. My one complaint is that it is heavy and with the paperback cover, in time it seems as if that will tear away.
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