FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NATURE enters the Fortress of the Bears
Airs Wednesday, January 25, 2012 on WTVP-HD.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
Exclusive content and streaming episodes available
Alaska’s Admiralty Island is home to an estimated 1800 brown bears, the largest concentration of
bears in the world. Nearly 100 miles long and 20 miles wide, it is half the size of Yellowstone National Park,
yet it sustains four times more grizzlies. The native Tlingít people call this island “Kootznoowoo,” meaning
“Fortress of the Bears.” It is a place where bears depend on fish, fish depend on trees, and the trees depend
on fish-eating bears to spread the nitrogen rich bodies of salmon throughout the forest. Everything depends on
the annual salmon run. But a change in the weather can keep the salmon from arriving, and affect the entire
ecosystem. Nature enters
this world shaped by bears, trees and salmon to explore the delicate balance of their interconnected lives.
Fortress of the Bears premieres Wednesday, January 25 at 7 p.m. on WTVP-HD. Chris Morgan narrates.
After broadcast, the episode will stream online at
It is spring. A young bear mother and her three cubs graze in the open, a naïve and dangerous
move in a place where the cubs might be killed by adult males nearby. In bear society, it is best to avoid other
bears, especially larger bears. The bigger, more powerful bears dominate all others in matters of feeding and
mating. When the mother sees a large male enter the clearing, she quickly gathers her family and retreats to the
forest, realizing her mistake.
As they wait for the salmon run to begin, the bears hunt and scavenge for anything they can find
to supplement their unsatisfying diet of grass. The receding tide offers unique opportunities, and one young
bear demonstrates a remarkable talent for clamming. Using her jaws to crack open her finds, she delicately
removes the clam meat from the shells with her dexterous four-inch claws. But the feast is short-lived. A few
hours later, the tidal flats become ocean again.
By mid-summer, humpback whales arrive from Hawaii to feast on enormous shoals of herring. But the
salmon have yet to appear. A La Niña winter has cooled the water to two degrees below normal, keeping the salmon
out of the streams and delaying the run. It’s the worst salmon season in the last 40 years. The bears have little
or nothing to eat and become ever more gaunt and desperate. The young mother loses two cubs to hunger, or to
another bear. But as the summer begins to wane, the tide finally turns for the salmon and for the bears. Two months
late, the waters warm and the streams fill with spawning salmon. Ravenous bears that have survived the devastating
summer of want can finally eat their fill. The much-needed salmon has saved the young mother and her one remaining
cub. When she appears once more in the meadow, it is clear she has gained both weight and wisdom. Now she is
cautious and sniffs for other bears before leaving the safety of the trees. She has managed to protect the cub
through the most difficult season in memory and together they face an uncertain future. What is certain is that the
cycle of life will begin anew next year as it has always done in this fortress of the bears.
NATURE is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET for PBS. Fred Kaufman is executive
producer. Fortress of the Bears is a production of Moore & Moore Films and THIRTEEN in association
with National Geographic Channel and WNET.
NATURE pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry.
Throughout its history, NATURE has brought the natural world to millions of viewers. The series has been
consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.
NATURE has won more than 600 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife
film communities, and environmental organizations including 10 Emmys, three Peabodys and the first award given to
a television program by the Sierra Club. The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the
Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given
by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Recently, Fred Kaufman was named the recipient of the Lifetime
Achievement Award for Media by the 2012 International Wildlife Film Festival.
the award-winning web companion to NATURE featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides,
Major corporate support for NATURE is provided by Canon U.S.A., Inc. Additional support is
provided by the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting, and the nation’s public television stations.
For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of
at (309) 495-0591 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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