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Sunday, May 8 at 8 p.m. – Bears of the Last Frontier

(Rochester, NY) – WXXI invites you to take an expedition into the wild, where you will see North American bears up close and personal. Nature’s Bears of the Last Frontier premieres on Sundays, May 8, 15, and 22 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11). Join adventurer and bear biologist Chris Morgan on a year-long motorcycle odyssey deep into Alaska’s bear country to explore the amazing resiliency and adaptability of these majestic animals. Bears are an icon of the wild, ranking among the most successful wild animals on the planet. 

 “There’s a constant tension filming bears on their turf,” said Fred Kaufman, Series Executive Producer.  “Nature is pleased to have Chris Morgan as our guide into this unknown territory where anything can happen.  His journey into the world of the bears features mesmerizing, spontaneous interactions with them that can be both suspenseful and captivating.  He allows us to get a look at the candid behavior of bears being bears in their natural surroundings.”
Traveling with a small film crew whose inclusion in the series creates a behind-the-scenes feel throughout, Morgan immerses himself completely in the bears’ world to give us an astonishingly intimate portrait of North American bears.  Over the course of a 3,000 mile journey that includes the Alaska Peninsula, Anchorage, Denali, Brooks Range, Kaktovik, and Barrow, Morgan reveals bears as curious individuals with unique personalities.  They are complex social animals with lives that are extremely vulnerable to habitat encroachment and climate change.

From lush forests to icy Arctic, Bears of the Last Frontier captures the allure of the wild symbolized by these remarkable creatures.  Over the course of three episodes, the film reveals survival strategies of each of the three bear species. 

Part 1 – City of Bears, airing May 8 at 8 p.m.
Chris Morgan sets up camp at a remote spot in the heart of Alaskan wilderness, alongside the largest concentration of grizzlies in the world.  It is June in the Alaska Peninsula.  The sun sets well into night, and bears are taking advantage of the long days to feed, mate, and raise new cubs.  Morgan tracks their progress as they feast on the riches of the season and re-establish the complex hierarchal social dynamics of bear society.  Along the way, he experiences close encounters with bears, observing brutal battles among males during mating season as well as tender moments between a grizzly mom and her cubs.

Part 2 – The Road North, airing May 15 at 8 p.m.
The second hour explores the world of black bears caught in the crossroads of urban development in Anchorage and the wilderness.  This is a new normal for bears and for their human neighbors.  Some bears are so comfortable living in urban surroundings that their primary habitat is a golf course.  In residential areas, bears frequently raid garbage bins and birdfeeders for easy snacks.  But these behaviors are less than ideal for bears and residents alike.  Morgan heads north out of Anchorage to Denali National Park, where the mountains loom over treeless plains and bears get by on a diet of thousands of berries a day.  The grizzlies share the enormous park with foxes, wolves, and moose — and with one intrepid bear biologist and his team. Morgan continues his journey north on a bone-shaking 610-mile motorcycle journey from Denali to Prudhoe Bay along the only Alaskan Highway to reach the Arctic.  Prudhoe Bay, a once-pristine area at the edge of the Arctic Ocean, has been changed forever by the oil industry.

Part 3 – Arctic Wanderers, airing May 22 at 8 p.m.
In the final hour, Chris Morgan travels to the far north of Alaska, the tiny North Slope town of Kaktovik.  It’s early November, and winter is coming on.  But each year, the polar bears struggle for extended periods on dwindling fat reserves, waiting for the opportunity to hunt on sea ice that takes longer to freeze.  In early spring, Morgan joins local hunters in Barrow, the northernmost city in Alaska, as they go out on their own hunts, facing some of the same challenges as the bears.  In late spring, Morgan travels to the North Slope of the Brooks Range, where countless thousands of caribou cover the ground for miles.  The grizzlies are waiting for them, as they have for thousands of years.


Photo: Nadie grazing
Credit: Courtesy of Photographer: Joseph Pontecorvo © WNET

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