"Bear War-den" is the story of a female park warden working in a Rocky Mountain National Park who spends her time on such tasks as bear patrol, locating tourists who are lost or in other physical danger, and policing park rules. She has a particular affinity for grizzly bears, largely stemming from an experience she had in a Neolithic cave in Spain. During her work and her travels, she observes various ways in which bears are mistreated in parks, sometimes even by researchers with seemingly good intentions.
While an out-of-control fire rages through the national park, the woman park warden, with two grizzly bear skulls in hand, begins a difficult and dream-like journey to the park boundary--where wild animals can seem like ghosts and trauma can strike as suddenly as lightning. One of the grizzly skulls, the one that was given to her, begins to talk to her.
Told in an experimental style that mixes realism and magical realism, and interrupted by photographs and by the voice of a bear, Bear War-den explores themes of personal and ecological loss, trauma, and of women and non-human animals dealing with oppression within a male-dominated, and often paramilitary-like Parks Management
Vivian Demuth is the author of a previous ecological novel, Eyes of the Forest (Smoky Peace Press, 2007), and a
poetry book, Fire Watcher (Guernica Editions, 2013). Her fiction and poetry have been published in journals and anthologies in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Europe, and she has read her short stories and poetry on CBC radio, both provincially and nationally. She lives in Hinton, Alberta.