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Home > Screenings > Bomanbridge Media > Valley of the Bears

Director: Rob Murray

Genres: Documentary

1 x 60'

Valley Of The Bears takes place in the stunning North-West coastal valley of Bella Coola, British Columbia. Runs of salmon by the millions bring in a variety of wildlife in a remarkable spectacle, especially the grizzly bear. With one of the highest concentrations of people and bears on the planet, bear encounters occur daily. In the upper valley, in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, drifting down the river, one can witness a family of grizzlies fishing for salmon. A visit further down the valley in the residential areas, bears are foraging in people's gardens and rummaging in their fruit trees. However, what is seemingly an idyllic place to live, so close to nature and wildlife, in reality is not without its challenges.

In recent years human-bear conflict has become ever more frequent and serious - locals are being injured and bears are being destroyed. Jerry, a local resident, describes how he fought for his life when attacked by a grizzly. Lawrence, a hunter and father of three, rein-acts the incident where he shot a charging bear in self defence he would do anything to protect his family after already having had his daughter mauled. Ken, a conservation activist, explains how he moved from the city to be closer to the bears. Fraser, a tourist guide, insists that people need to use electric fences to deter bears from their properties. People rarely used to see bears, so what has changed?

The locals used to deal with problem bears themselves, hence the old valley motto, “Shoot, Shovel and Shut-up”. Nowadays the government have adopted a coexistence approach, in which bears and humans are expected to live along side one another. The once distinctive line separating people and bears is becoming blurred, and there is a divide growing in the community. Global warming and overfishing have greatly impacted the salmon run in recent years, forcing the bears to search for alternative food. Since the grizzly hunt ban and the bear viewing industry boom, the bears have become habituated to people.

They are losing their fear of man, and have begun entering people’s homes. People’s territories are rapidly shrinking and the bears are overrunning the valley. This once peaceful valley has come under scrutiny after recent media exposure, from the outside world, and the divide in the community is only getting worse. In this incredible and unique valley, people and bears must find a way to coexist with one another, peacefully.