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Bald Eagles, Bear Cubs, and Hermit Bill

Memories of a Wildlife Biologist in Maine

240 pages
Islandport Press

In Bald Eagles, Bear Cubs, and Hermits: Memoirs of a Wildlife Biologist, Ron shares his stories of growing up in rural Maine, working as a wildlife biologist, and meeting Mainers like retired dairy farmers Ruth and Martin French of Dover-Foxcroft, who repurposed their barn's empty cow stalls into a wildlife rehabilitation center. The couple specialized in rescuing orphaned bear cubs, providing solitary cubs with teddy bears as temporary surrogate litter mates while biologists scrambled to find sow bears willing to adopt the orphans. The book includes humorous stories, such as one about the time he had to count piles of deer dung on designated mile-long lines and encountered a woman who bluntly asked, “So you went to college for that?” Other stories border on the absurd, including one of an influential legislator who pressured Ron to spray concentrated wolf urine on 30 miles of Route 201 in a harebrained waste of taxpayer money to supposedly reduce moose-vehicle collisions. Many of the book's stories have previously been published in Down East, Maine Boats Homes and Harbors, Bangor Daily News, Moosehead Messenger, PenBay Pilot, and elsewhere.

Author Bio
Author Ronald Joseph was born in Waterville, Maine. Spending childhood summers on his maternal grandparents’ nearby dairy farm, he became fascinated with songbirds, often spending hours perched on stacks of hay bales in a post-and-beam barn watching swallows dart in and out to feed their nestlings. Ron’s mother encouraged his love of birds by giving him a copy of Peterson’s Field Guide to Eastern Birds. The book’s colored plates and range maps revealed a fascinating world of birds just outside his front door. His farm chores, from milking cows to collecting chicken eggs, were often interrupted by sprints through the barnyard to identify Indigo Buntings, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Brown Thrashers, and dozens of other songbirds. His first bull moose sighting would also leave a deep impression: chased by his grandparents’ Border Collie Bonnie, the moose ran between the farmhouse and barn, ducked beneath a clothesline, and escaped across a hayfield with a bra attached to his antler. Birdwatching, though, became Ron’s passion, inspiring him to pursue a B.S. degree in wildlife conservation and a M.S. in zoology. In 1978, he began a 33-year career, first as a state wildlife biologist, and later as a federal biologist specializing in the restoration of eagles, peregrines, and other endangered species in Maine. Now retired, Ron volunteers for the Kennebec Land Trust, participates in the Maine Bird Atlas, a statewide citizen science project evaluating songbird population trends, and leads Maine birding trips. This is his first book.