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Sunday 21 December  
Grizzly bears at Canada’s Banff National Park

Earth Beat - Animal stories

On air: 2 September 2011 3:00 (Photo: RNW)

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Earth Beat, 2 September 2011. From surviving a grizzly attack and training bears to stay away from us, to using bees to measure air quality, what animals can teach us, and who gets out alive.

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How animals made us human
Pat Shipman is the author of The Animal Connection. She explains that it is our associations with animals that allowed us to evolve as humans. Hence domestication; the start of an uneasy pact between man and animal.

Blackbirds change their tune
An illustration of how humans and animals are still causing each other to evolve. As human noise intrudes on nature some species have had to work harder to be heard above the din. The blackbird has taken to adding particular urban sounds to their already florid repertoire with some surprising results. Hans Slabbekoorn is a professor of behavioural biology and spills the beans on the champion songster.

Parakeets on Chris Chambers' balcony
Parakeets on Chris Chambers' balcony
Parakeet squeak
There are an estimated 10,000 feral parakeets in the Netherlands. They’ve adapted to city life with ease but not all city-dwellers are happy about these tropical invaders. Earth Beat producer Chris Chambers is one of them and explains why being woken up at five in morning by the bird equivalent of a relentless car alarm is making him do some uncharacteristic things.

Attacked by a bear
Earth Beat producer Anik See speaks with mountain enthusiast Colin Croston, who encountered a grizzly bear and her cub on the way back from a climbing trip. It’s a tale of surprise, shock and survival.

Managing bear jams
Canada’s Banff National Park gets over 500,000 visitors a month during the summer and when a bear decides to look for food close to the roadside, they can quite often cause what’s called a bear jam. As in: a traffic jam caused by passersby and tourists wanting to get a closer look at a bear. Earth Beat producer Anik See happened to be in Banff on her summer vacation, and agreed to go on duty with a group of park employees whose summer job it is to find the bear jams, and make sure nothing bad happens at them (photos below). Read more about bear jams at Anik's blog - Forgotten Spaces.

Project Grizzly - Troy Hurtubise is a man who has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and most of his adult life developing a series of bear-proof suits after surviving a grizzly attack.

A bee story
Bees are being used at Frankfurt Airport in Germany to test the air quality. They seem to be very happy sharing space with jumbo jets. Reporter Susan Stone gets a close–up (photos below).

Pat Shipman

We return to Pat Shipman for her thoughts about whether we should declare an animal apartheid, and distance ourselves from other species as much as possible.

Click image for slideshow - use arrows to scroll

  • Traffic pulled aside to look at a bear on one of the only roads that runs through Banff National Park, Canada.<br>&copy; Photo: Anik See -
  • A grizzly cub feeding by the road in Banff National Park, Canada<br>&copy; Photo: Anik See -
  • A black bear approaches a picnic area in Banff National Park, Canada<br>&copy; Photo: Anik See -
  • Bear Guardian Brent Stokes letting a young visitor to Banff National Park feel a grizzly bear pelt<br>&copy; Photo: Anik See -
  • Bee hives at Frankfurt’s International Airport, used to measure air quality<br>&copy; Photo: RNW/Susan Stone -
  • Bernd Grünewald from the Institute of Apiculture and Matthias Ullmann, master beekeeper, inspect bee hives near the runway<br>&copy; Photo: RNW/Susan Stone -
  • About 300,000 bees collect up to 38 kilograms of nectar a day from around the airport, which are sampled for toxins<br>&copy; Photo: RNW/Susan Stone -


Charlene Minor Light 6 September 2011 - 3:59pm / Ukiah, California

Hello, I was listening this morning to the grizzly bear story and would like to share my bear story. In 1969, when I was 26 years old, I was backpacking alone in the high country of Yosemite National Park in California, U.S.A. While crossing a creek on a log with my backpack on my back, I looked up and there was a black bear crossing the same log with two cubs behind her. We were about 5 feet from one another. I thought, what do I do. One's mind works very fast in these situations. I considered jumping off the log into the creek. I considered giving her my backpack which contained food. But, I believed at that time and still believe that if we are loving and consider animals to be our friends they will do us no harm. So, I sent her loving thoughts and in my mind sent a message that she could have the log. I slowly turned around and went back to the ban where I turned upstream and found another log to cross. Then, I looked back and to my surprise she had done the same thing, except she had turned around on the log and had gone downstream and found another log to cross. It was a very beautiful experience and confirmed my believe that most animals will respond to love and respect. Thanks for letting me share my story.

user avatar
Earth Beat 6 September 2011 - 4:07pm / Netherlands

Thanks for writing in, Charlene. What an amazing story - and a narrow escape!

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