A grizzly nicknamed Hollywood photographed when he was six will be 12 this year. He approached our group in the sub alpine and went to ground to feed

A grizzly nicknamed Hollywood photographed when he was six will be 12 this year. He approached our group in the sub alpine and went to ground to feed

Stalking, man-eating bears on North Island

Columnist Lawrence Woodall discusses the perspective about bears in the TV show "Alone"

If any of you have watched the two episodes of Alone, about supposedly 10 expert survivalists challenging their skills against the wilderness of the North Island, there are two distinct feelings, one is their lack of skill and the second is their attitude towards wildlife. What the greatest concern is, is those digesting the wildlife commentary, especially city folks, the ignorance of perpetuating myths of stalking man-eating bears and killer wolves, and because these survivalists have been tagged with the label of expert many may believe what is being stated, regardless of fiction.

The most obvious fictitious commentary was by the first ‘expert’ leaving the show, because of two young, most likely sibling bears curious about his campsite were described as stalking bears, then the second ‘expert’ leaves because of the man-eating wolves, he probably watched the movie The Grey once too often. Hey and while we’re at it, lets reintroduce the Salem witch hunt.

Wolves and bears, the polarized beliefs of humans isn’t surprising, and this is most likely only going to get worse as our world for everything instantaneous devours more of its inhabitants. All you have to do is look at our world today with all its violence of man on man, because we no longer understand or relate to one another, now introduce a different species such as a bear into that equation, it takes a lot of energy and patience to understand, and each bear has a unique personality as I’ve mentioned over the many years.

And it’s not surprising to me that a recent Canadian Geographic have bear biologists finally coming to the conclusion that this is the case.

One of my favourite bear interactions was up in the Yukon in 98, it had been a long winter, and food stores were low in early summer, meaning all the bears were stressed, and my group discovered that as every grizzly we met gave us plenty of attitude.

Well it was on Kathleen Lake where we were set up  as a base camp, the soap berry was fully ripe and we selected a tent site where the berries were sparse.  I had placed my cedar strip canoe at the head of the tent as a psychological barrier against the bears for my comrades. Well at 3 a.m. my cedar strip was unceremoniously smacked into the tent, a grizzly wanted to feed where the berries were sparse, go figure, we were instantaneously all awake.   That grizzly made a mistake, he smacked my canoe and woke me up instantly without a coffee to deal with the matter.

I can only imagine what that grizzly thought as I exited the tent cursing, the chase was short and sweet, returning to the tent to gather my sleeping bag since it was -3, I held vigilance by the outhouse, canoe rage had taken hold and that bear was yet to pay the price for paw handling my canoe, my tent mates inquired about my life insurance.

I was in no mood for their attempt at humour. Later that morning park staff arrived by boat, as three campers who attempted to use the outhouse never made it due to a bear standing nearby.  With the grey morning, and the soap berry bushes up to my waist, and the sleeping bag rumpled over my head and shoulders, I probably stood close to eight feet tall, we never did inform the staff, so three visitors will return home to tell of their harrowing experience of the grizzly and outhouse.

Now could you imagine the Alone survivalists describing the same event, a blood curdling, man-eating grizzly attempting to rip through the tent, when, in fact, I guess the berries below the canoe were better tasting then the exposed berries.

As for that grizzly’s  tale of the bear-eating human attacking him on a cold July morning, totally a myth or not, as more humans kill and eat bears then bears do to humans.

 

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