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Spring 2004

Close Encounters of the Ursine Kind

I (Charlie Russell) got the idea while working with people and Grizzlies that they were really very peaceful animals, not an unpredictable menace that would suddenly turn on someone for no reason.

The ultimate test of trust. This bear was eating on a bear skull. I wanted to check it for bullet holes and could take it away from her as long as she knew she would get it back.

The Russian brown bear is the same species as the North American grizzly. The Spirit Bear is a light color phase of black bears who sometimes have a double recessive gene that produce white fur.

Princess Royal Island was uninhabited and the bears there had never seen people before. It was a perfect place to observe what bears are really like.

While working on a film about the Spirit Bear in 1992-93, I got to test some theories of how bears will respond to humans if they are never treated poorly. The bears of BC’s Khutzeymateen Valley were poorly protected until 1994 when it was made Canada’s first and only Grizzly sanctuary. I guided Eco clients there from 1989 to 1996.

People can watch bears from a boat without disturbing what they are doing. Here a bear travels the shore of the inlet.

Females will also trust people with their cubs once they understand you are not going to gurt them.

This bear was bred and will have cubs in January 2003. She and her sisters are the only grizzlies in the world to have been taken from a zoo and successfully reestablished as wild, totally independednt bears.
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