Wild bear filmed using BBC crew’s TV cameras

January 2, 2011 | by | 2 Comments

This is the moment a wild black bear turned the cameras on a television crew which had been following its pack for a documentary.

Wild bear filmed using BBC crew's TV cameras

The mighty animal swayed up to the video equipment and began peering through the lens of the very camera that had been filming it before casually chewing off the fuzzy microphone cover.

A BBC crew had been following the creatures in the USA for nine months in the hope of being accepted in to the group and learning about their ways.

But they got more than they bargained for when the cheeky bears began taking an interest in their cameras and equipment.

One of the animals played with a camera and began looking through the lens before clumsily knocking it over during filming in Eagles Nest Township, Minnesota.

British presenter Gordon Buchanan, 38, said he embarked on the project in the hope of dispelling myths about their ferocious nature.

He believes the bears’ fearsome reputation stems from feature films and TV programmes which are made using a handful of captive bears who have been trained to snarl and stand on their hind legs.

Gordon said the bears eventually became used to his presence – allowing him to get remarkably close to them and monitor their behaviour.

He said: ”I wasn’t sure how the bears would react to our crew and equipment like the cameras, but due to their non-confrontational nature they weren’t bothered by them at all.

Wild bear filmed using BBC crew's TV cameras

”I even left the camera running at one point and got distracted, then when I turned around one of the bears was having a look through the lens.

”I think it was being inquisitive and seeing what it was but it looked as if the tables had turned and I was being filmed by them.”

Gordon spent everyday in Eagles Nest Township following and tracking the bears bargaining with them by offering them handfuls of food in return for their trust and being allowed to see their lives.

He worked under the supervision of bear scientist Dr Lynn Rogers who has dedicated the last 25 years to researching the bears.

Dr Rogers had previously radio collared the pack so they were easy to track down but Gordon’s aim was to watch them naturally feeding and bonding in their habitat.

Gordon said: ”It was amazing to be allowed to watch the bears naturally, feeding on things like ant larvae.

”I also enjoyed showing the habitat to my own family, who came out to see me over the summer. My kids loved it but my wife didn’t want them to go anywhere near the bears.

Wild bear filmed using BBC crew's TV cameras

”But eventually, like me, she came to understand that they aren’t harmful to humans if you treat them with respect.

”Bears aren’t domesticated animals like dogs, I found that they simply have no interest in humans good or bad.”

In 25 years of working closely with wild bears Dr Rogers has never been seriously hurt and neither was Gordon.

Gordon added: ”I did once get bitten on the leg but it was my own fault for ignoring the signs this bear was giving me as I learned that they use their mouths as a way of expression.

”I wanted to prove to people that these animals aren’t dangerous and there is nothing to fear. It is hunters that have vilified them to justify their pursuits.”

The three part series will be aired on BBC2 from Monday 3rd January at 9pm.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Mike Sculthorpe says:

    What a load of baloney. The BBC wildlife unit has (had?) a very proud legacy to uphold. Who cannot fail to recall the filming of the African Hunting Dogs, or the Gorillas with D.Attenborough or Jane Goodall and the Chimpanzees? One thing these famous wildlife documentaries never attempted was to cross the divide that involved interference with a stricken animal.
    Is the BBC now more concerned with producing good ‘telly’ with a heart warming story, as opposed to realistic and compelling and wildlife documentaries?
    As someone who has lived in Ontario, where Black Bears are to be found only 1 hour north of Toronto, I recall one of the biggest problems with Bears were the behavioural problems associated with frequent food handouts. There are instances where adults and children have been killed by over familiar Black Bears for this very reason in Ontario, let alone other Canadian Provinces!
    Also, consider the implications of Bears used to handouts wandering up to autumn hunters with the sole intention of eating black grapes only to be met with the wrong end of full bore rifle!
    I can only say that I am disappointed in what was billed to be an interesting documentary?

  2. John Dakin says:

    As a freelance cameraman – I am “insanely jealous” of Gordon Buchanan and other wildlife film makers, however, I do share the views of Mike Sculthorpe, and question the wisdom of this particular film. I loved the series, and found Buchanan’s commentary – riveting viewing” but have serious doubts about the message that this series will bring. I would love to have been involved in the filming of the series, but would want to have a long focus lens between me and the bears ….not so much out of fear for myself – but for the long-term survival of the bears !

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