Gabriel Mapel is a young naturalist from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with a deep love and connection to bears, birds, and other wild creatures. Each year, from the time Black Bears emerge from their dens in the spring until they return to their dens in the late fall, Gabriel is wandering the woods in search of his bear friends. He has studied the entire ecosystem, learning where and when food sources ripen at different times of year, increasing his ability to find the bears he is searching for. He has come to know more than 100 individual bears by recognizing them by size, facial markings, behavior, and territory, following many from the time they are cubs until they grow up and have families of their own. It is this profound personal relationship with the bears that makes Gabriel's observations so powerful and insightful. In his new book "My Life With Black Bears" Gabriel shares some of these observations, giving the reader a rare glimpse into the world of Black Bears.
Gabriel was ten years old when he wrote his first book "Oh No, Gertrude!". He wrote the book with the intention of teaching people how to help keep Black Bears safe. It has sold more than 13,000 copies around the country, including in Yellowstone, Great Smokies, Big Bend, and Shenandoah National Parks.
Gabriel is also a passionate and accomplished birder and is founder of the Blue Ridge Young Birders Club in central Virginia. He is on the Board of the local adult bird club serving as field trip coordinator. He is also a member of the local avian records committee. Gabriel received the 2012 Volunteer Appreciation Award from HMANA, the Hawk Migration Association of North American, and was recognized as the youngest known qualified hawk watch counter in the country. He volunteers hundreds of hours each years at the local Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, counting migrating raptors as they head south each Fall. Gabriel proudly wears his Gold Cap, worn only by field trip leaders at the annual Biggest Week in American Birding Festival sponsored by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, held each year in Ohio.
Gabriel is also an accomplished astronomer, having earned his Silver Messier Certificate from the American Association of Amateur Astronomers at age 9. His other interests include photography, hiking, and camping.
Gabriel has appeared in one episode of the TV show Zona Latino, and was a guest on the Canadian talk show "Georgian Life". He has been the guest speaker at various bird clubs, libraries, schools and parks around the country.
Gabriel's future is bright and promising. He plans to continue writing books, and he hopes to work for the Natural Park Service as an Interpretive Ranger, sharing his passion of natural world with others!