Filmmaker tells of Russia bear attack

Swedish wildlife filmmaker Erik Fernström was in Russia shooting a film when he was attacked by a bear. The incident occurred during the production this summer of a film called "The true face of the bear".

Fernström is out of breath from fighting other battles when The Local reaches him at his home in the storm-hit region of Jämtland. “I have just been out shovelling snow. It’s very heavy now.”

He explains that his film is based on scientific research about the logic behind bears’ behaviour. Armed with this knowledge he knew how to react when a brown bear suddenly turned on him and his crew.

“Nine out of ten times brown bears attack just to scare you. We just stood our ground.”

But how could he be sure that this was not the exception that proves the rule? Was he not scared?

“Yes, of course I was. But the bear will only attack if he is wounded or protecting his prey. He kept coming at us. He was pushing the limits. But so were we. He came to within 5-10 metres of us.”

Fernström also describes how bears often follow in the tracks of berry and mushroom pickers just to have a look at what is going on.

“They get quite close. They are curious about who you are,” he said.

But they rarely show themselves. Attacks are infrequent and casualties rare. But a wounded bear will not hesitate to strike.

“A hunter in the north of Sweden was killed by a brown bear a couple of years ago. The hunter’s dogs scared the bear out of its den. It seems that the man then wounded the bear and was attacked and killed.

“The story has been in the news recently because the man’s family have tried to get compensation from the state. Apparently you can get compensation for a dog that has been injured or killed by a bear. But you can’t get compensation for a family member,” Fernström said.