Jeff Fair Portrait © Rya Whittington-EvansFor 40 years now, as an author and field biologist, I have followed loons and bears and other wild spirits across the North from Maine to Alaska, studying them and writing about what my pursuit of them has allowed me to find. A wildlife biologist by formal training (BS Biology in 1974, MS in Wildlife Ecology in 1978), my first job out of grad school was to trap and radio-collar grizzly bears in the Yellowstone back country, a job that spoiled me for life. And thus it has been my habit that, whenever a job becomes too office-oriented and I feel the walls moving in, I promote myself back to the field.

Captured yellow-billed loon keeping Jeff's attention at 70º North Latitude © Ken Wright

Captured yellow-billed loon keeping Jeff's attention at 70º North Latitude © Ken Wright

Along the way, I have worn the badge and uniform of a Utah game warden (one career arrest), and introduced snakes to tourists as a US Forest Service naturalist in Oklahoma. But mostly I've studied loons—for eleven years as director of the New Hampshire loon recovery project and since 1991 as an independent consulting biologist—and minored in the ursine community.  I’ve written and edited hundreds of technical reports and co-authored several scientific publications, which can all be found elsewhere.  One notable one is my Status and Significance of Yellow-Billed Loon Populations in Alaska (2002), a seminal report for conservation research and USFWS consideration of that species for Endangered Species Act listing.

But my true study of life manifests itself in my essays and books, which tend to ponder the connections between humans and the wilder, natural world—generally, if I can help it, with a touch of humor and an uplifting message. I've published five books to date: The Great American Bear (1990), three children's wildlife titles soon after that, and now In Wild Trust (2017).  During that long hiatus from book-writing, I scribbled stories of my adventures for magazines including Audubon and Alaska magazines and Appalachia, where I'm an editor-at-large.  My essays and articles have also appeared in Natural History, Cirque Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, Equinox, Ranger Rick, Wild Earth, and We Alaskans, and have been carried in numerous anthologies including On Arctic Ground (2012), Arctic Voices (2012), 2007 National Outdoor Book Award recipient Arctic Wings (2006), Travelers' Tales - Alaska (2003), and Loons: Song of the Wild (1996). I've also enjoyed performing the Forewords to Dave Evers' and Kate Taylor's four volumes: Call of the Loon, Call of the Northwoods, Journey with the Loon, and Journey with the Owls.

In September 2007 I traveled to Washington, DC, to receive the National Press Club's Erik A. Friedheim Travel Journalism Award for the story I wrote in Audubon about Larry Aumiller and the bears at McNeil River Sanctuary in southwestern Alaska. I've made three trips to visit the restricted McNeil Sanctuary, two on Special Science/Education Permits awarded by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and one by bush plane in late winter when no one was looking. In 1998 the National Wildlife Federation presented me with its Farrand/Strohm Writing Award for another story on bears.

I still return to northern New England annually, and more recently to Wyoming, for short junkets as Senior Oversight Biologist (SOB) on many of my older loon projects and a few new ones. But my heart now resides in the Great Land. In recent years I've made more than a dozen research and writing trips into Alaska's Arctic, primarily seeking out Tuullik, the rare and elusive yellow-billed loon, and assisting in federal research projects thereon. I've also visited hundreds of classrooms around Alaska-on the road system and far out in the Bush as an Author-Biologist In The Schools. Alaska has been my home for 23 years, the past 13 of them in this quiet little cabin on the toe of Lazy Mountain, just across the river from Palmer.

Jeff's Alasken Cabin