Unnatural interest in the bear essentials
Rogue Nature with Dave Salmoni 9.30pm, Discovery
DAVE Salmoni is the sort of bloke who likes to poke at things with a stick as he wanders through the bush, all whistling innocence, just to see what happens. Think Harry Butler in the wild and you are almost there, only shifted to North America.
But where Harry used to deal with furry little animals, this bloke likes to get up close and personal with mother bears guarding cubs and during the mating season. Surprise, surprise, they get grumpy and dangerous. It’s foolish to invade their territory and one feels for the animals getting a jab of human intrusion.
But gee, it brings out the voyeur in us. ‘‘ Yes, go grizzly, give him a whack,’’ I felt like shouting at the bear as I watched this episode of Rogue Nature , a six- part series on animal behaviour.
Butler dealt with little critters that were no threat whatsoever and that would happily bolt off once freed. When you’re dealing with a grumpy grizzly bear, however, it’s you who should do a runner, only there’s no point in doing so as a grizzly is faster.
Neither is it any good to climb a tree, as that’s a happy hunting ground, too. Black bears especially can whip up a tree faster than you can say ‘‘ no honey pot up here’’. Apparently, between them, black bears and grizzly bears have killed about 100 humans through the years. Quite a few got eaten.
Salmoni sets out to see whether animal species have rogue members inherently or if they really like us until threatened. We get several case studies and reconstructions, complete with pictures when the human survived. One case study includes comments to camera from a field zoologist before he became dinner.
Salmoni once trained lions and tigers, but in this series he talks to hippos, crocodiles, elephants and giant squid, all far more intimidating, especially on their home turf.
Survivors’ tales can be graphic and not for small children. ‘‘ I felt ( a grizzly bear) ripping meat off the back of my head,’’ says one. And some observations are bleeding obvious: ‘‘ A species might happily coexist with humans, but it’s always possible to encounter one who will inexplicably cross the line and attack.’’ Oh, really.
If you are out walking in the woods, there’s a nice line of designer gadgets to take along, ranging from pepper spray to a little rocket that whizzes over to go bang right above a grizzly. Apparently it works. At least, very few have come back to say it didn’t.
That said, Rogue Nature has an addictive quality that thrill- seeking viewers may enjoy.
Not so close: Dave Salmoni with trained grizzly bear Adam in Montana