Letters from Charlie...

Letters from Charlie...

January 26, 2005

December street scene in Petropavlovsk the day I left Russia.

December street scene in Petropavlovsk the day I left Russia.

Geena, Sheena and Buck in the Zoo in May.

Sheena eating pine nuts beside their den November 10th.

(Click on any Image to see a higher resolution version)


I have been back in Canada since December 5th and only spent 6 days at the ranch before going to British Columbia to work on a movie project based on the book Grizzly Heart. I was very tired and needed a rest. I didn't need more work. However, there was enough relaxation associated with Christmas that I survived.

After getting my problems with emigration sorted out, I stayed in Petropavlovsk (PK) for 3 weeks and worked with Rob Walker, an American friend living most of the time in PK and the rest of the time in Moscow. He is laying the foundation before the movie crew comes to Russia in 2006. There are many things that have to be sorted out to anticipate what might happen and reduce the surprises that are bound to occur. Things like sorting out the various government agencies we will deal with, both in Moscow and locally in PK, and who will expedite all the film companies and crews needs. Rob is far more a diplomat than I am. He is incredible, actually.

After 7 1⁄2 months I was finally able to leave Russia. When I had left home in April, I only planned on staying one month. Getting through this season was the most difficult thing I have done in my life. I was not psychologically prepared to go back to my cabin where there were such bitter sweet memories, given that Maureen and I have separated as well as the memory of what happened to our other bears. Taking more cubs and going back there might seem to many people as nonsensical. It might not be difficult to understand though, what it is like for me to have been handed the fate of five wonderful cubs who’s only chance for survival was for me to get them into the wilderness again. I also saw how they could fit into the movie idea, so even though I had very little money to work with, I buckled down and worked hard, month after month, until the cubs were denned and safe. Thankfully, I had a couple comrades, Volodia Gordienko & Reno Sommerhalder, that came to the cabin at various times to help me with this huge task. I eventually got everything done. Now I am faced with getting back to Kamchatka before they emerge from the snow about May 1st.

The first chores my partners Jeff and Sue Turner faced was to form a company called Grizzly Heart Productions and now we are developing the script for the movie. We have interest in England to fund the Independent Feature Docu-Drama, which as I mentioned will involve taking two or three actors to Kamchatka and hiring many more Russian actors. Additionally, the plan calls for re-introducing three more orphaned cubs in June 2006. Ironically, these cubs will work with me as well as the older cubs to introduce the actors and crew to the unaltered, wild nature of Russia.

The film will depict Maureen’s and my life and our research here in Kamchatka. It will explore the same questions; the main one being. What if there was a place remote enough that it was never interfered with by any other humans other than us and the bears living in this Eden like place, had only positive experiences with people, instead of all the violent, mean spirited things man has historically done to them out of fear?

Creating this movie by putting together wild bears and actors that have to learn everything about each other, right on the set, will be the strongest statement I will ever make about bear’s behavior being the product of how humans treat them and what might be possible if we could change. I would not go to that much trouble unless I had the confidence that people are sophisticated enough to become more civilized once enough of them have good information.

The December issue of Outside Magazine ran the article by Andrew Meier about the other side of what I have been doing in Kamchatka. As it indicated, some of the things to do with those who killed our bears have been resolved, but the poaching problem has not gone away. I am working with Russian officials to bring protection to the south end of the peninsula. My personal protection comes from being a high profile individual there. Certain powerful poachers have been warned that if anything happens to me, it will be assumed that they were responsible. I am trying to get a print copy of the Outside story to put up on this site.

I am proud of what I have done over the years towards the protection of the bears of South Kamchatka. Even if I have not accomplished anywhere near what I wanted to do, I have been able to achieve more than others who work with a budget of millions of dollars.

Presently, I am searching for funds to continue with my protection and re-introduction programs in Kamchatka and busy with all the chores of accounting for last season's sponsorship.

Lastly but not least, I would like to thank you all for your continued interest and support for this project through the years.


© Pacific Rim Grizzly Bear Co-Existence Study, 2005