Looking for an absolute thriller to read this summer that combines your love of the outdoors with great story telling? Then pick up a copy of David Ferguson’sBear Runners. When you start to read this book, you will find it impossible to put it down.
Set along the rugged coast of the Hudson Bay Lowlands, in the dead of winter, the novel follows Robbie McNabb, a rookie conservation officer working out of the Moosonee District for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, who is hot on the trail of a ruthless polar bear poacher.
Did you know that the international black market in wildlife is a thriving $175 billion-a-year industry and that a polar bear rug fetches as much as $17,000 in Russia and China? A live gyrfalcon, on the other hand, will net a poacher as much as $360,000 on the black market while a kilogram of black bear bile sells for as much as $250,000. With bounties like these riding on the animals’ heads, it is no wonder the crime attracts unsavoury characters the likes of which you would not want to meet on a busy city street, let alone face to face in the wilderness.
It is noteworthy to mention, also, that Ferguson is a retired OMNR conservation officer who spent years in the field, including by no mere coincidence, a stint in Moosonee District where, in addition to his enforcement duties, he participated in goose banding projects, aerial polar bear surveys and waterfowl hunter check stations. So while Bear Runners is a purely fictional account, it draws on his vast store of experiences and encounters.
Indeed, after spending 31 years myself working for the OMNR—I started in Algonquin Park when it was still the Department of Lands and Forests and finished up my career in Kenora, as the District Manager—Ferguson’s tale of intrigue brought back many fond memories. Especially flying in the Ministry’s legendary Yellow Birds—the workhorse piston Beavers and Otters—as well as the newer fleet of turbo-jet floatplanes and helicopters that play a surprising role in the Bear Runners story.
You’ll learn plenty about winter survival, gun safety and the tight-knit relationship between the various enforcement agencies, including the OMNR, RCMP, OPP, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Armed Forces.
But it is young McNabb, pilot Samantha Williams and poacher Gerald Eagle Feather Morgan, who trained as a sniper at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, around whom the story revolves. And what a spellbinding story it is.
You can purchaseBear Runners in paperback form for $25.00, or purchase the Kindle version for only $3.68. That is half the price you’d pay for a dozen minnows and the bargain of the summer.
I have to say, as well, that as much as I enjoyed reading the book, I truly look forward to the day when a Hollywood producer buys the screen rights and turns Bear Runners into a full length feature film.