New Book: In Wild Trust
In Wild Trust is the classic Alaskan wilderness story of Larry Aumiller’s 30 years living intimately among the world’s largest congregation of brown bears. He called it the world’s greatest summer job. He should know: he held it for 30 years. Every spring for three decades he returned to the wilderness side of Cook Inlet, 250 miles southwest of Anchorage, by seaplane to perform as manager, guide, teacher, philosopher, and eventually a world-renowned bear expert and the very personification of the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. His is the story of one man’s love for solitude in a wild landscape, and of his ability to develop and maintain an extraordinary trust between visiting humans and the world’s most fearsome terrestrial carnivore, the brown bear (blood kin to the fabled grizzly bear, only bigger). His is the story of survival among bears. How he got the job in the first place is a classic Alaskan tale. Why he ever left it is another.
How the trust works is understandably simple, if unprecedented in this era of virtual reality and detachment from the natural world. How Aumiller ultimately put it together—without ever having a class in wildlife ecology, let alone a degree, or the term “biologist” in his title—is a primary thread in his story. This wild trust evolved from a rare experiment in wildlife management and observation that resulted in a surprise discovery of the possibilities of peaceful coexistence. It provides parable and paradigm for a new way (which is actually a very old one) for us to live on Earth among its wild threats and beauties.
While the trust and its creation are the biological thread here, the bitter three-way betrayal led to Aumiller’s departure, only to be followed by a sweet and buoyant denouement.