The Flying-Fish of Northern Montana?

by Greg Kornelis

When you think of grizzly bear feeding frenzies, visions of the thousand pound brutes gathered at the stream gobbling up migrating fish come to mind, or you might think of their muzzles smooched against the ground vacuuming up kinnikinnick berries by the thousands, or even the more imaginative could conjure a bear banquet adorned with overflowing pots of honey ala Winnie the Pooh.  But what I had never dreamed of was the sight seen by many of the visitors of Yellowstone – bears gathered along talus slopes, digging for moths!  Yes, moths.  The army cutworm moths of Western Montana are actually an important source of pre-hibernation fat for Yellowstone’s grizzlies with as many as many as 40,000 moths per day ingested by an ambitious furry exterminator.

 

The moths themselves begin as “army-cutworms” in winter and spring, feeding on plants they cut down as caterpillars and damaging crops and gardens in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  Summer migrations take many of the adult moths to Yellowstone, Montana to feed on the nectar of mountain flowers.  Nutritional content is as much as 72% fat, 28% protein, and 1% carbohydrate.  The moths feed at night to avoid the daytime sun and find shelter underneath large rocks of talus slopes where it remains cool and moist.  This is where the smorgasbord awaits a swarm of hungry bears whose claws make great tools for overturning grubby hideaways.

 

As the former abundance of pre-hibernation foods such as whitebark pine nuts and cutthroat trout declines, it is predicted more and more bears will focus on moth feeding, affecting how population counts are conducted in the park.

 

Sources:

Fessenden, Marissa.  “Grizzly bears find fall feast in well-traveled moths.” Yellowstone Gate. 21 Oct, 2013. Web. 22 Oct, 2013. <http://www.yellowstonegate.com/2013/10/grizzly-bears-find-fall-feast-in-well-traveled-moths/>

 

French, Stephen P., French, Marilynn G., Knight, Richard R.  “Grizzly Bear Use of Army Cutworm Moths in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.”  Int. Conf. Bear Res. and Manage. 9.1(1994): 389-399. Web. <http://www.bearbiology.com/fileadmin/tpl/Downloads/URSUS/Vol_9/French_French_Vol_9.pdf>

 

Cranshaw, W.  “Miller Moths.” Colorado State University. Web. 22 Oct, 2013. <http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05597.html>

Note From a Donor

Some time ago we received this lovely note from our fabulous donor, Mary Ann.  While we’d like to thank her for her donation we’d especially like to thank her for the work she is doing to help others appreciate nature and learn more about bears.  Great work Mary Ann!

Hi Chris:
     I really enjoyed your one-hour talk tonight about bears on the Explore.org website.  I’ve been watching the four cameras at Brooks every day and have loved every minute of it.  I go in September, and, hopefully will see Beadnose and her three cubs, 410 and her three spring cubs, Ted, and Holly.  I go every year and just love it!
     I took notes on your talk because in early June my sister’s son in law who is a fifth grade teacher in New Jersey emailed me to ask if I would answer questions that his 11 year olds had on brown bears.  They had been reading a book in class about a boy who survived a plane crash in Alaska and had been encountering a brown bear.  I had sent my sister’s daughter two albums of photos of mine taken of brown bears and polar bears and her husband had taken the albums into class to show the kids.  I answered each of the kid’s questions and they were so thrilled that some of them sent me thank you notes.  My sister’s son in law wants to do this again next year.  I am thrilled!
     If I can influence just one child to appreciate nature and animals and to go into a profession that would help animals, like you, it would be wonderful!
     The 8 or 10 year old daughter of the doctor I go to loves animals, so when I go for my yearly physical, I always take in extra brown bear and polar bear pictures that I have.  The doctor said she has them tacked up all over her room.
     Sorry I’ve gone on and on, Chris.  I’m just trying to inspire kids to care about animals and nature, in my own little way, just like you do, in a big way, in your talks, films, teachings, etc.
     Keep up the good work, Chris.  Your work is incredibly inspiring!
     Bear hugs,
     Mary Ann

An inspiring few days in the North Cascades

I’m just back from an incredibly rejuvenating 5 days in the North Cascades near my home in Washington State. My good friend, and Wildlife Media Chair and CEO John Taylor joined me for a leg of the adventurous ride that took us through the heart of some beautiful country on the east side of the mountains. Always a nice escape for those of us from the “wet side”. I thought you’d enjoy a few pics. My 600 mile route included 200 miles off-road through awe-inspiring scenery from Cashmere to Highway 20, and a constant reminder of several things – how lucky we are to have had inspired leaders before us who paved the way for National Parks, National Forests, and a system that allows us access to enjoy wild places like nowhere else on earth. As you’ll see below, we even had a black bear visitor one night at camp…..although we didn’t know it until morning when we woke up and found his fresh tracks just a few feet from where we were sleeping. The whole ride I was wondering how close the nearest grizzly bear might be. There used to be hundreds in these mountains, but now there are maybe 5 or 10. It would be front page news if we had woken up to find a grizzly bear track by camp…….but I will continue to dream of that possibility for another day.
-Chris
For more about the bears, wolves, and cougars of Washington State see our Western Wildlife Outreach page: www.westernwildlife.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where The Money Goes…

The ultimate focus of the BEARTREK campaign is conservation.  That’s why ALL proceeds from the future release of BEARTREK, the film, will go to conservation organizations and to fund new films on wildlife conservation.

“But bears – and other wildlife that share their home – can’t wait.”

Thanks to the Isdell Family Foundation, Wildlife Media has given $60,000 to polar bear ecologist – Dr. Nick Lunn of Environment Canada, for his important research on the Western Hudson Bay polar bears.  Dr. Lunn’s conservation research on these animals includes aerial surveys, tagging, tracking, and biological sampling (not to mention playing a key role in helping to film the polar bears of Hudson Bay for BEARTREK the film!).  His research is vital for understanding how climate change and reduced ice cover is affecting the survival and reproduction of wild polar bears.  As climate change limits the availability of ice cover, human/polar bear conflicts increase, making his research more important than ever.

In all, polar bear research has benefited from $60,000 donated by the BEARTREK campaign!  Money is used for satellite collars (a very expensive and a crucial tool for bear research), helicopter time, lab equipment and analysis, sampling equipment, and man-hours.

Dr. Lunn also works with the conservation organization – Polar Bears International, whose goal is to provide the best scientifically based and peer-reviewed polar bear research to governments and institutions, so they can make the best decisions concerning the well being of polar bears worldwide.

We here at Wildlife Media are so excited to work with researchers like Dr Lunn.  We’d also like to thank our generous supporters that make donations to important conservation work around the globe possible.

Great Bear Stakeout Comments

After the BBC airing of the Great Bear Stakeout we counted over 600 Twitter, Facebook and email comments about the show. Following are just a handful of our favorites :

E-mail notes:

 

I loved every minute of Great Bear Stakeout!  I laughed, I cried, I learned – all emotions were felt.  Great job done by all of you!!!!  The film was beautifully presented!!  Thank you for doing this incredible job of exposing the difficult life that these magnificent animals must endure.  I felt like I was there.  THANK YOU!

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What a great film. . . I was hooked from beginning to end! Thank you, and keep up the good work!
I can’t help but wonder what became of the thin mother bear with the three cubs . . . Any idea?

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(below email is from a French viewer)

We watched great bear Stakeout
Hard to find words
Stunning, breathtaking, touching, surprising, moving  even shocking sometimes.
We were stuck to the screen , sometimes holding our breath.
We WERE with team.
It’s incredible to see people like Chris, who are bear expert, it’s incredible to see him disconcert  by the behavior of a bear, or deeply sad in front of the lonesomeness of a cub.
Thank you to remind us that we must keep learning from our world!
Hats off Chris and all the team
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BEST bear movie We have ever seen!and we watch a lot of them. the story lines were compelling,
the narrative down to earth without any sensationalism, the action very much like we have observed!
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We really enjoyed the show. The filming was beautiful.  My favorite shot was of Parsnip on the beach watching the sun(set or rise) but beautiful. I really appreciated the focus on behavior and particularly the insight into individual differences i.e. personality/disposition/temperament, that ran the gamete from Van to Parsnip and everything in between…She came out of her den an “inexperienced Mom” and returned to her den a better Mom. Thanks again for a great bear adventure!

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Hi, Chris…….Just finished watching “Great Bear Stakeout.”  FABULOUS!!!  Must admit watching you and your crew allowing those HUGE grizzlies to get so close gave me the heebie jeebies!!  Unbelievable shots ——  kudos to all of you.

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 I was really overwhelmed (in a positive way) with Great Bear Stakeout!  NEVER before have I seen such an incredible show on bears, and I have watched every one of them that has been aired on tv.  It was the BEST I have ever seen.  I literally sat, in awe, watching your documentation of the behavior of this small group of bears. Thank you and your group for the spectacular show that all of us viewers were able to watch, enjoy, and learn from. Keep up the excellent work, Chris!  You will surely win an award for this marvelous presentation!

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I watched the program Sunday and loved the whole thing. You certainly are to be congratulated for the show as the scenes were amazing.

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The Stakeout …..What spectacular work…. intimate and artful. You and the team really peeled back the nuance and intimacy of survival.

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 What a fantastic programme Great Bear Stakeout is! I can’t believe how engrossed I was and how intense I felt about what could happen to the bears particularly the cubs. I would probably have watched something other than this even though I love wildlife programmes, but the first one caught me, hooked me and wouldn’t let me go!

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Have been watching your series on BBC, what a fantastic breakthrough, really entertaining and informative – just what I would have expected from you chap.
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The film was great!! What drama!

But, what happened with Betty and her three cute little ones? She was sooooo skinny. Hope they made it through the summer ok!
Great work!

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I watched both parts of the Great Bear Stakeout when it aired recently in the UK. It’s an amazing piece of work with superb bear footage. After watching the first part I couldn’t wait for the second one! From the positive comments I’ve heard from friends and family you have definitely brought these beautiful animals to people’s attention.
I loved Bears of the Last Frontier but I found the GBS truly spectacular to watch, even the scenes that showed how cruel and harsh nature can be.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and I hope to see many more!

 

Twitter comments:

 

NOBODY helps me understand & appreciate #Bears more than Chris Morgan aka @MorganWildlife #GreatBearStakeout on #Discovery

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 #greatbearstakeout is such an awesome programme. Wish it was a series or something

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@MorganWildlife so brilliant! Bears are amazing:) wish there were many more episodes #GreatBearStakeout

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@MorganWildlife This is one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen.Just watched the second part of #GreatBearStakeout, best nature series iv ever seen!!! @MorganWildlife

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Loved the #greatbearstakeout! Maybe a follow up next year to see how Parsnip and Pushki get on? @BBCNature

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#greatbearstakeout@MorganWildlife #GreatBearStakeout: awesome film making. Loved your passion for the subject. More please!

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@MorganWildlife I love your ‘subtitles’ of the animal world. It’s hilarious and entertaining yet still educational!

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@MorganWildlife I can’t help but to express myself supportively- what you do touches my heart quite deeply- and i tell Everyone i know2watch!

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Amazing tele in #GreatBearStakeout!! Can’t believe I haven’t seen chris morgan in anything before, fantastic and genuine wildlife presenter

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@MorganWildlife #greatbearstakeout Your work is truly amazing and has taught me so much, thanks for sharing your love of bears with us

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#greatbearstakeout beautiful documentary am thoroughly enjoying it. Its what the BBC does best!

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@MorganWildlife I’m absolutely glued to my television right now. #bearstakeout such an amazing show, such an amazing journey…

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@MorganWildlife #GreatBearStakeout brilliant program, shame that is was only 2 part tho! Highly recommended

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Loved the #greatbearstakeout! Maybe a follow up next year to see how Parsnip and Pushki get on? @BBCNature

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@MorganWildlife #GreatBearStakeout #FollowUp yes please :)

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Oh Van, leave everyone alone! I want to know how Solo is doing…#greatbearstakeout

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@MorganWildlife I know! I bet they’re so cute! And all the new cubs! Definitely need a follow up to see how they all are!#GreatBearStakeout

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#greatbearstakeout was fantastic from the BBC. When Van wanted his seal back, even I averted eye contact & got down on my knees.#goodbear

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Watching #greatbearstakeout in HD is superb, the filming and editing is absolutely top class. #bbc1 #bbchd

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                 Facebook Comments:

Michele Chartier – FANTASTIC program,thank you for letting us see how the bears survive! Wonderful footage!!

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 Andrea Price – We do need to see you more on British tv….You certainly brighten up my love life!!!!And your programmes are brilliant.

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Helen Sheard – My friends and I were really taken with the way that you filmed the bears, it seemed to be a totally new angle (pardon the

pun!) and completely different to other wildlife progs here in the uk. Was that very deliberate?

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Tina Valle – You all did it again! Great footage and editing…well done!

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Christie Abraham – Amazing show. What a hard job it is for a momma bear. Some truly frightening moments to watch. As ever thanks!

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Sandy Struble – Fantastic show – so intimate, so real. In my favorite place on earth

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Denise Miller – Excellent show last night! Amazing footage, especially at the Falls.

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Michelle Lavoie – watched this twice! truly amazing!

Apps for Apes


by Greg Kornelis

Photo by Center for Great Apes

The May 18th edition of Quirks and Quarks, the science show on CBC Radio, featured a report on a novel program run by Orangutan Outreach of New York called: Apps for Apes.

Apps for Apes gives orangutans the chance to play mentally stimulating games on the iPad!  Orangutans in captivity need to be mental stimulation to keep from becoming bored and depressed.  They also have unique personalities and interests that are catered to by the iPad.

Photo by Scott Engel

The iPad provides access to:

  • musical instruments
  • cognitive games
  • art
  • painting and drawing
  • photos and videos
  • access to other orangutans

Dr. Anne Russon (a leading expert on orangutans) has found that the apes are capable of intellectual feats thought to be exclusive to humans.  Orangutans have learned to play memory games with pairs of flipped cards, draw using coloring apps, and they’ve even Skyped with orangutans in other zoos!  The apes are actually aware when they are viewing themselves on the devices and viewing other orangutans.

Photo by Tom Pandi 2012

According to Orangutan Outreach, the three goals of Apps for Apes are:

  1. to provide enrichment and instant gratification for orangutans using iPads
  2. to raise awareness among zoo visitors of the need to protect orangutans in the wild
  3. to promote the conservation efforts of Orangutan Outreach

Orangutan Outreach is a conservation organization that seeks to protect orangutan habitat, rehabilitate and return displaced orangutans, and promote partner organizations.

More on Paul Lister

Here’s a short conversation I had with my good friend and conservationist Paul Lister when I was visiting him last month in Scotland. He talks about the work he’s doing to rewild Scotland, and his hope that we don’t have to do the same in Romania years from now (the forests there are being felled at an alarming rate). More about Paul’s European Nature Trust (TENT) here:http://www.theeuropeannaturetrust.com/en/

Chris
Bellingham, WA
6.26.13

Beyond the Movie

You may not know that Wildlife Media isn’t simply about making inspiring and exciting movies, we’re also making sure that the money donated to us helps protect the very wild places we show in our films.

We recently reached out to help friend Robyn at the Spectacled Bear Conservation Society Peru:

The WM board just approved sending Robyn $5600 to cover 2 months of staff time for 5 people in Peru. One of her funding sources fell through so this was an emergency need. Just the kind of thing we are here to do for our partners like Robyn. I called her in Peru this morning to tell her and she was lost for words. She has worked too long and hard, and yielded way too many positive results for things to fall apart for the simple reason she doesn’t have enough time to fund-raise. It feels great to be able to step in in this way.

 

Thanks all of you for making so much good possible.

-Chris

Wildlife Media/BEARTREK Milestones

About a week ago I asked our behind the scenes guru Carmen for the milestones of Wildlife Media for our Facebook page.  What she returned to me is an impressive list of accomplishments and an exciting display of movement over the last 12 years.  Take a look at where we’ve been and stay tuned to hear more about where we’re headed!

2001 – BEARTREK begins as an idea. Chris imagines an around-the-world filmed adventure by bike to meet with biologists and benefit bear conservation. From here the concept is shaped with Joe’s input a year or two later – when Chris and Joe meet by chance in Alaska (Joe filming, Chris guiding).

2005 – Enter John Taylor (now our Chairman and CEO). John saw huge potential in the plans that Joe and Chris were discussing and took it to the next level. He not only provided generous funding to begin making BEARTREK a reality, but his foresight lead to the founding of our organization, and a mission to change the face of conservation through films to inspire change in the world. John’s strategic mind and passion for the wild continues to fuel Wildlife Media’s direction.

Mar 2007 – Wildlife Media Founded. Wildlife Media is formed with one vision:  To change the hearts and minds of people everywhere through exceptional films that raise awareness for conservation work around the world. Our small group of dedicated co-founders (Chris Morgan, Joe Pontecorvo, John Taylor, Annie Mize, Jim Lewis, and Chris Palmer) set out to create an organization like no other conservation group, and like no other film production company. We also make plans to channel proceeds from the films back into conservation work on the ground in the areas that were filmed.

Sept 2007 – Filming in Alaska begins. The giant brown bears of the Alaska Peninsula. Joe, Chris, and John embark on an adventure that is to last years, and inspire more than they can ever imagine.

John Taylor (Wildlife Media Co-Founder and Chair) and Joe Pontecorvo (Wildlife Media Co-Founder and BEARTREK Director of Photography/Producer) preparing to film among the giant brown bears of Katmai - BEARTREK location number 1! Photo: Chris Morgan.

 

Sept-Oct 2007 – Filming continues in Borneo. The smallest bears in the world, sun bears, in one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet.

May 2008 – Chris and Joe screen Alaska and Borneo footage at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula. PBS is in the audience. Shortly after, PBS commissions the mini-series, ‘Bears of the Last Frontier’. Wildlife Media is listed as a production partner alongside PBS and National Geographic. The series is broadcast to 200 million homes around the world in May 2011.

August 2008 – Joe begins filming spectacled bears in Peru with Robyn Appleton for BEARTREK.

May 2009 – BEARTREK theatrical trailer created.

Nov-Dec 2010 – Peru filming complete. Came away with amazing rare footage of wild Andean, or spectacled, bears!

May 2011 – Chris talks bears on Letterman! Promotes Wildlife Media and ‘Bears of the Last Frontier’.

Sept 2012 – Wildlife Media begins its first of two polar bear film shoots in Churchill, Manitoba – this one with Dr Nick Lunn.

Oct 2012 – An anonymous donor provides the final funding needed to produce BEARTREK (the day before we leave to film our final BEARTREK location… now with BIG smiles on our faces).

Nov 2012 – Final BEARTREK filming takes place in Churchill, Manitoba! On to post-production.

Mar 2013 – Wildlife Media hires Oscar-nominated film editor Billy McMillin to oversee the process of editing BEARTREK footage. Billy has been involved since the very beginning and has edited many of the shorts you’ve seen.

Welcome Paul!

Paul at Alladale – beautiful Atlantic salmon river!

I am delighted to welcome Paul Lister to our Board of Advisers! You all know how much Paul and his family have done for us already…..we wouldn’t be where we are without him. You were already in the family Paul, but this just formalizes it! Paul is an incredible force for good work in the world of conservation – both philanthropically, and strategically. I’ve seen his projects in Scotland and Romania first hand. Two “small” Paul accomplishments as examples – planting almost a million trees in the Highlands, and just two weeks ago organizing Prince Charles to step aboard the Wild Kingdom environmental education bus in Bucharest, created by Paul’s organization The European Nature Trust (TENT) (with support from another one of our Advisers – Eric Everard). Amazing. This barely scratches the surface of the things that Paul is accomplishing for our world.

Paul – this is from us all – we are looking forward to changing the world with you! And remember – we already ARE!

Best wishes,

Chris

PS – more about TENT here: http://www.theeuropeannaturetrust.com/en/

      Chris at Alladale last month – one of the valleys planted with trees by Paul and his team.