The bear necessities: Alberta bear video garners worldwide exposure

CALGARY – An Internet video is teaching hundreds of thousands of people around the world that back-scratching is one of the bear necessities for grizzlies in the foothills of Alberta.

Taken over a three-day period and posted to YouTube by Alberta Parks conservation officer in late July, the flick, titled “What goes on when you are not there,” shows a variety of wildlife captured by motion-sensor cameras as they visit what’s known as a “communications” or “rub” tree.

As of Tuesday, the video had more than 1,462,000 views and had been featured on “Good Morning America” and the “ABC Nightly News” and even the “Colbert Report.”

There are several different animals in the video, but the grizzlies are the stars, rubbing up against the tree, at one point, four at a time. Set to folksy music, they appear to be dancing.

“Kananaskis Country is one of the few places that does have a healthy grizzly bear population and these rub trees are very important in their social structure. They aren’t scratching an itch, it’s all about scent,” said Glenn Naylor, who put the video together.

“Every bear that goes to those trees leaves a mark and rubs its scent on the tree. Over time, these trees become destination points for bears so if you can find them you know you’re going to get bears showing up there.”

Using video editing software, Naylor put the thousands of images together and then got permission from Toronto guitarist Ewan Dobson to use his music in the background.

“I was very pleased. It turned out to be very entertaining,” said Naylor. “The bottom line is it’s getting giving Alberta Parks, Kananaskis Country and our research into bears a huge profile. There’s a lot of spinoffs to this now. It is raising awareness.”

Comedian Stephen Colbert had fun with it on his satirical show.

“I’ve said it before folks, but I’m anti-bear,” he deadpanned, with stripper music playing in the background over the video.

“And that brings me to the No. 1 threat to America — stripper bears. Folks, these Godless torquing machines are turning our forests into their very own episode of ‘Griz gone wild.’

“Who can resist these hot stripper bears? They’re topless and bottomless though they really should consider waxing.”

Naylor said he has done another video involving cougars on a kill and there is another one on the way.

“It’s called ‘Rabbit With a Death Wish,'” he said. “I’ve already got the images.”

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