Grizzly Heart: Living Without Fear Among the Brown Bears of Kamchatka

Grizzly Heart: Living Without Fear Among the Brown Bears of Kamchatka

Charlie Russell, Maureen Enns, Fred Stenson

Language: English

Pages: 277

ISBN: 2:00104560

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An absorbing first-hand account of living with bears, from the acclaimed author of The Spirit Bear.

To many people, grizzlies are symbols of power and ferocity -- creatures to be feared and, too often, killed. But Charlie Russell, who has had a forty-year relationship with bears, holds the controversial belief that it is possible to live with and truly understand bears in the wild. And for five years now, Russell and his partner, artist and photographer Maureen Enns, have spent summers on the Kamchatka peninsula, located on the northeast coast of Russia, and home of the densest population of brown bears in the world.

Grizzly Heart tells the remarkable story of how Russell and Enns have defied the preconceptions of wildlife officials and the general public by living unthreatened -- and respected -- among the grizzlies of Kamchatka. In an honest and immediate style, Russell tells of the trials and successes of their years in the field, from convincing Russian officials to allow them to study, to adopting three bear cubs left orphaned when their mother was killed by a hunter (and teaching these cubs how to survive in the wild), to raising environmental awareness through art.

Through a combination of careful study and personal dedication, Russell and Enns are persuading people to reconsider the age-old image of the grizzly bear as a ferocious man-eater and perpetual threat. Through their actions, they demonstrate that it is possible to forge a mutually respectful relationship with these majestic giants, and provide compelling reasons for altering our culture.

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back into Itelman Bay, but he made no mention of it in the conversations before our departure. Maureen and I had made a pact to co-operate with the Russian authorities, playing by all the rules, at least when we were being watched. I had already acted in a few ways contrary to that resolve, but I also couldn’t imagine having done otherwise: watching the cubs in a potentially fatal chase and doing nothing. Though we didn’t talk about that event, something between the lines of what Vladimir was

2,000, which, as far as I’m concerned, is totally unacceptable if we want to consider ourselves civilized—especially when a viable alternative exists. In late August, I got a sharp reminder of what can happen with a bear who had no previous experience of our electrical gadgetry. The idea that all the local bears had long ago been educated about the fencing had caused me to become lax about checking that the fences were actually carrying power. You could tell if the electric fence immediately

disappeared for a while and came back with a big crab. Sergei (pilot) opened his briefcase, and voilà!—it was full of vodka. With lots of laughter and gesturing, they informed me that we were going to wait until the weather cleared, they hoped by the next morning. Given the speed with which four bottles of vodka were disappearing, I was relieved to know we weren’t leaving right away. As we “spoke” in this fashion, I came to understand that they were intent on seeing me safely to Kambalnoye Lake,

were meant, for film purposes, to fight and feed on. Dad had the idea of a film depicting grizzly bears as they really were, something that had not been done before. The money came from the Frank Taplin Foundation, Frank being one of Dad’s hunting clients from New Jersey. With some of the money, Dad bought a pair of Bolex movie cameras, which he promptly put into the hands of my older brother Dick and me. We were twenty-two and twenty. Though Dick and I had been well trained in photography by

had wanted to study these lakes for years and now saw a way to do it, if I would help her with my Kolb. That idea was put on hold, though, when I discovered that Igor and three visiting Moscow photographers had found several dead bears in the vicinity of Igor’s cabin, and still more along the lakeshore. Igor had become aware of the problem when Bill Leacock reported that the signal from one of his radio-collared bears wasn’t moving. He and Igor tracked the signal and found the collared bear dead.

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