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Bear Rescuer Shares His Secrets on National Geographic Sunday

Bear rescuer Casey Anderson has a fascinating show on bearology on National Geographic this Sunday. He tracks grizzlies in the wild, then shows you their behavior in depth up close with Brutus, a bear he rescued as a cub. The knowledge he’s been able to gain by living closely with 7-year-old, 700-pound Brutus make Expedition Grizzly, which is on May 3 at 9 p.m., put him a step above the average bear documentary.

Anderson is a very hands-on documentarian. He came into the office this week and told us he spent weeks in the field getting shots like a nerve-wracking encounter among two young siblings and an older alpha bear. He’s had Brutus since the grizzly was just a few weeks old, so he’s picked up bear body language and tells probably better than the biologist in the field. Since he can read Brutus so well, he has a good idea what other bears in the wild are thinking.

He doesn’t mistake Brutus for a pet or a wild bear, but puts him somewhere in between. Brutus was born in one of the many animal attractions around the country that tries to make their animals have crowd-drawing cubs, he says. The attractions end up doing what the Wall Street Journal recently reported, European zoos do: they don’t bother with birth control, then end up euthanizing the extra animals they can’t take care of–which often end up as food for the other animals.

Anderson keeps four bears in a sanctuary at the Montana Grizzly Encounter. Brutus’ acting jobs and visits from tourists en route to Yellowstone help pay for the huge costs of keeping the bears.

Anderson explains with some simple graphics how the island of bears around Yellowstone could easily be connected to the bigger population to the northwest. That would help solve some bear conflicts and allow them to move to more hospitable ground when they needed to. All it would take is a few land bridges over major highways, which grizzlies are reluctant to cross.

The show is a nice preview of what you might learn at the Grizzly Encounter. I hope I get to make there some day to see Brutus in person.

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