The Man Who Loved Bears

Jun 8, 2018 By Deepa Gopal
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On May 7th, in Calgary, Alberta, a friend of the bears’ passed away.

Charlie Russell was a naturalist who researched grizzly bears. He wanted people to not fear bears or any animals. To back up his argument, he and his partner, Maureen Enns, lived in eastern Russia with the grizzly bears. Russell claimed that bears were smart animals that were just misunderstood and he wanted to prove it.

Russell and his partner spent months researching and living among the bears. While in Russia, he taught many people how to run tours that allowed tourists to see bears safely and naturally. The researchers found that bears could sense that people were not always threats. They did not take their rifles with them; this allowed for the bears to trust them. Russell and his partners found bears that previously had no bad interaction with humans, which allowed them to start from scratch. Soon the bears were comfortable around the people and interacted with them.

In 2003, when the partners went back to the Kamchatka Peninsula, they were met with some heartbreaking news. All the bears that they had studied and gotten to know, had been killed. Enns and Russell found a bear gallbladder nailed to their cabin wall. Bears’ gallbladder serve as a health remedy and so they must have been in demand. Russell was saddened that the bears he had trained had lost their fear of humans, and had perhaps become easy prey to hunters.

Through books and documentaries, Russell and Enns continued to build awareness of these animals. 

Sources: NY Times,