For hundreds of years the grizzly bear suffered and declined before the advance of white civilization. Not until 1959, when Frank and John Craighead established an independent research project in Yellowstone Park, was much scientifically sound information on grizzlies available. For 13 years the Craighead brothers and their staff studied the bears in their natural and not-so-natural habitats, tracking them with everything from snowshoes to satellites.
The result of their study is ''Track of the Grizzly,'' published in 1979 and now reissued. The reader gets a broad understanding of the life cycle of these marvelous giants, from their birth under the winter snows to their social structure and even a little of the physiology of hibernation.
Much of the excitement of the Craigheads' pioneering study lives on in the book. Unfortunately, so does much of the environmental politics which forced these scientists out of Yellowstone and continues to threaten the great bear's future in the United States.