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  • Writer's pictureLouisa Willcox

Episode 6 - Charlie Russell, Part 2

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell is a rancher, bear expert, film-maker and author, who has such a special personal way with bears that some call him a bear whisperer -- a honorific that he poopoo’s. Charlie has spent much of his life pioneering a different kind of compassionate and respectful relationship with bears and other wildlife, one he thinks is possible for all of us. Charlie has accomplished what many thought impossible, including raising tiny orphan cubs and releasing them successfully in the wild to flourish. Charlie’s decade in Russia’s Far East were high adventure, tracking poachers in his ultralight plane, and building a Russian ranger corps to protect bears and other wildlife.   Charlie speaks to tragic deaths by bears of friends like Timothy Treadwell, and the threats to grizzly bears in Alberta and Yellowstone by proposed sport hunting.


"If they couldn’t stop me from flying down there {Kamchatka], they didn’t have any real way of stopping the poaching either. They didn’t have any money, and so I suggested to them that I could probably find some money to start a ranger program and they went along with it… eventually six rangers were hired, and it became quite a successful way of stopping this salmon caviar poaching."

"The biggest obstacle is ourselves. It’s people. I came back from this experience knowing that it was not a bear problem. I knew it was a people problem… And the work that I need to do is to try to persuade people that we’re on the wrong track. We need to manage these animals in a different way."

"We create danger in grizzly bears by how they’re managed, because we insist that they need to be afraid of us and wild, meaning that they have to be separate from people. They have to live in their own world and we in our world."

"I think grizzly bears want to be social with us. They’re intelligent animals. They know that we control the productive land that they also need to live on, and so they basically are always kind of testing that."

"Now, people are learning to enjoy them, seeing them among their cattle, but they could never do that before, because it was always about the danger… And if you think that you can live with them, you can. It’s just that simple."

"…Part of the problem that we are in is that we think we are so separate from nature that we can just kill animals. We can just do what we want to do -- and we chose an economic model that requires continuous growth. There is nothing like that in nature. …it’s a serious situation, that’s why I say I worry more about us than the bears."


Grizzly Heart: Living Without Fear Among the Brown Bears of Kamchatka, 2002, by Charlie Russell and Maureen Enns

Spirit Bear: Encounter with the White Bear of the Western Rainforest, 1994,by Charlie Russell

The Beardude Story: Data vs Dogma, Apr 9, 2015, by Mr. Allen W. Piche

The Grizzly, 1914, by Enos A. Mills


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