Welcome to our bear page! If you have any questions about bears or our bear programs on DVD, just send us a message!
There are 8 species of bears in the world today: - American Black Bear - Polar Bear - Brown Bear - Sloth Bear - Sun Bear - Giant Panda - Andean Bear - Asiatic Black Bear.
Our first four programs plus the upcoming Season of the Bear #6 on DVD focus on the American Black Bear. We have filmed black bears for over 25 years, in North Georgia, East Tennessee, and Western and Eastern North Carolina. Additionally, for our fifth program about Asia bears, we obtained photos and video footage from Borneo, Sri Lanka, China and Zoo Atlanta. Although there are 8 species of bears, each species may have one or more sub-species. For instance, Grizzly Bear and Kodiak Bear are sub-species of Brown Bear. and Kermode Bear and Glacier Bear are sub-species of American Black Bear.
Filming bears in the wild, we were two but only one on camera at a time, so that one would always be the lookout while the other one filmed. Most of the time we did not even turn the camera on for about 15 to 20 minutes, just to see if the adult bear would tolerate our being there at all. Yes, you lose a lot of good footage as you stand there assessing the situation, but better to be safe than sorry. With bear families, most times the mama bear would allow our presence, keeping an eye on us from behind a log or up a tree, but sometimes not. If there were any signs that she did not want us there, we were gone immediately. But we never had a charge or bluff charge, and 99% of the time, we stayed, and sometimes we were with a bear family for over 7 hours at a time, in a field, near trees, in the woods, near streams. Cameras rolled as long as there was opportunity, so not all of that was filming time. Black bears are difficult to shoot. You have a black bear up in a 100-foot tree in a dark forest, and then you try to film that bear! As you may know, light is very important to photography or videography. Luckily we had low-light cameras and a ton of patience!
The first time we met an American Black Bear ("black bear") was one day when we were new to mountain hiking, and were having lunch near a loud stream. Lunch was homemade chicken-salad sandwiches. Of course a bear could smell that 3 or 4 miles away. Before long, a bear came to lunch. I was in a folding chair and when I turned my head, the bear was eye-level 2 feet from me. It was a sub-adult bear, out on his own for the first time, about a year and a half years old. We exited up the hill to the road with our food. The bear flipped my chair, tossed my hat, ate some potato chips from the ground, and followed us up. The bear finally was between us and the car so, naturally, I seized the opportunity and filmed the bear, walking around and then biting the front of my car. I wanted to keep the car forever because it had bear teeth marks on it. We went in search of a program about bears that we could bring home, at that time it was VHS tapes, but could not find one telling all about black bears, so we decided to produce our own. That started us down the road of our wonderful bear series, "Season of the Bear." The first one, "Volume 1: American Black Bear" was released in late 2002, and won a Bronze Remi Award for Nature and Wildlife Documentary and the 2003 Worldfest International Film Festival.
"Season of the Bear, Volume 1: American Black Bear" is an overview of black bears, including ecology (habitat, diet, characteristics, etc.), and bear safety. It includes fabulous film from our first 8 years of tracking bears as well as agency guest speakers. Please note that the status of the American Black Bear in Louisiana and the U.S. resident black bear population map detailed on that program was accurate as of that time (early 2000's). Since then, the status of that bear and also the population maps have changed, as they were updated a decade later. The updated U.S. black bear map is then shown on Part 4: Southern Bears. Wildlife maps change every decade or so as they are updated by state and federal agencies, through their research.
"Volume 2: Black Bear Cubs" came about as a direct result of Bear 1 viewers requesting more bear cub footage, and for this one we show newborn bears in the winter den, all the way up to adult bears - the first 2 years in the life of a black bear, plus family scenes and also some big adults. This one is quite endearing with the baby bears, the music is poignant on those scenes, and the scenery is spot on, complete with winter snow and searing summer afternoons. It took quite an effort to learn how to and actually film bear families in the wild. The newborn bears in the den were filmed at a local zoo, courtesy of Chestatee Wildlife Preserve. This film won 3 international film awards for excellence in documentary: Gold Classic Telly Award for Videography / Cinematography, 30th Annual International Telly Awards; won the Bronze Telly Award for Nature & Wildlife Documentary, 27th Annual International Telly Awards; won the Silver Remi Award for Ecology Environment - Conservation, 38th Annual WorldFest International Film Festival. It came out in 2005 - what a wonderful time we had making that one! But at times it was a little dicey out there in the woods with bear families. Never a problem with bears though.
"Part 3: True Bear Stories" came about due to news worthy black bear stories that were simply too good to pass up. These came to us from Alaska to Florida, and was a joy to put together. On the spot photos and submitted video, plus our own film, highlight these stories as told by the people who met those bears. Tales of daring-do, all. That one came out in 2010. it was a triple winner: the Bronze Remi Award for Childrens Documentary, the Silver Remi Award for Ecology-Environment-Conservation Documentary, and the Gold Remi Award for Nature and Wildlife Documentary at the 44th Annual WorldFest International Film Festival in 2011.
We learned a lot about black bears in those years and also how fascinated most people are about bears, including hikers, tourists, homeowners and bear managers! So many people who are interested in bears live in or near bear territory, and people in big cities want to see a bear too.
Through the decades we met with wildlife biologists from many states, and we decided to really highlight them and their work as well as the bears on our fourth program, "...Southern Bears." This proved to be a challenge, but we interviewed bear managers from 9 states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. At first, we thought, oh dear, what if they all talk about the same thing? Not a chance! Every one of them came prepared to discuss what they thought was most important about bears in their state, they gave up their time, shared information and pictures and video, and helped us flesh out our working script. We knew where we wanted to go, and they showed us how to get there. Wildlife biologists are special kinds of people. They are very knowledgeable and dedicated to their jobs, they see and learn tons of things we never do, and they do their jobs in all kinds of weather and in all sorts of conditions. They are the unsung heroes, in our opinion, of wildlife conservation, boots on the ground so to speak, right there in the wild environment on a daily basis. (They also told us that our films of wild bears showed them bear behavior they had not seen before.) There is a special segment on this program about bears and bear/people management in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including bear rescue, bear workups and release back to the wild, bear safety and more. This program includes an updated U.S. black bear population map.
We were very excited to walk up to that stage the next year and receive four awards for this one at the 47th WorldFest International Film Festival in Houston in 2013: - The highest Platinum Remi Award for Public Service Documentary - The Silver Remi Award for Nature and Wildlife Documentary - The Silver Remi Award for Ecology, Environment, and Conservation Documentary - The Bronze Remi Award for Documentary Program.
- More to come......
Check out our 'Season of the Bear DVD's on this website in the meantime!
Coming Soon: Season of the Bear, Volume 6: America's Bears (American Black Bear, Brown Bear, Polar Bear)