Romania Deadly 60


Romania

Wildlife series. Steve Backshall takes a look at dogs and their distant relatives, wolves. He heads to the Arctic Circle where huskies show him a thing or two about stamina.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall...

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..and this is my search for the Deadly 60.

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Amazing!

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That's not just animals that are deadly to me...

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but that are deadly in their own world.

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My crew and I are travelling the planet, and you're coming with me

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every step of the way!

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This time on Deadly 60, we're doing things a little differently.

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We're dealing with one wondrous family of animals

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that comes in all different shapes and sizes.

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We're travelling all over Europe - from up here in the frozen north

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right down to where I live in the UK.

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And what is that one family of animals? I wonder if you can guess.

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That's right - it's the dogs.

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In fact, we're dealing with the whole canine family,

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including their wild ancestors.

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The African hunting dog...

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coyotes...

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and Ethiopian wolves are all superbly adapted for hunting.

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And we live right alongside many millions of these canine carnivores,

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in the shape of the domestic dogs that share our homes.

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There are over 150 different breeds of dog,

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but all descended from one formidable wild force -

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the wolf.

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I'm going to track down some wolves later in the show.

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Before I do, let's check out how some of their deadly attributes

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are mirrored in the dogs we see around us every day.

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I'm going to use dogs to display the uncanny canine capabilities

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I just wouldn't be able to show you with wild wolves.

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We have three sets of working dogs

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to show you their special skills up close.

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Alaskan Huskies,

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a Rottweiler rescue dog

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and a trained police hound.

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We're starting here in Norway, where it's a rather chilly minus 15.

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The breed I'm going to look at first are these huskies.

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They've been bred to work together.

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and just like wolves, they can run for miles.

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they're real specialists and they thrive in the cold.

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HUSKIES WHIMPER

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Amongst working dogs, there's probably nothing that comes closer

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to a pack of wolves than these guys. These are sled dogs -

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specifically Alaskan huskies.

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and look at those beautiful blue eyes.

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Very much like you'd expect to see on a puppy wolf.

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And those HUGE paws - great big, broad plates of meat

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for keeping it up above the snow

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and running at great speeds.

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A pack of wolves spends as much as a third of their time on the move.

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Come on, guys!

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These huskies aren't as big as wolves, but have the same long legs,

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enabling them to lope over vast distances using the minimum energy.

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Here they go!

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It's time to put them to the test.

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These husky dogs have been bred over generations

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for incredible endurance.

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They have big hearts and lungs that can drive them along

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at the same sort of pace as an Olympic sprinter - for hour on hour!

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They can cover as much as 100 miles in a day.

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Out here in the snow, that really is an incredible achievement.

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they just function so well as a team together.

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Just like a pack of wolves, every one of them has their own job

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and they function beautifully as a unit.

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They're just got boundless energy.

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This is such a wonderful experience.

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So huskies have extraordinary stamina, like marathon runners.

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And, like wolves, if they WERE out hunting,

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they'd certainly be able to keep up the chase.

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But a wolf isn't deadly just because of its stamina.

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They're also armed with a sensational sense of smell -

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a trait that dogs have inherited.

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That's enough. Right, you've said hello. It's dead. It's dead.

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Throughout the dog family,

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whether we're talking about wild dogs or domestic dogs,

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there's one canine supersense that's more important than any other.

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It's this.

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The nose and that superb sense of smell.

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This is Sorrow. She's a Rottweiler

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and her sense of smell is thousands of times more effective

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than that of a human being.

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If she was a wolf, she'd use it in the wild to track and locate prey.

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But Sorrow has been trained to put her sense of smell

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to a totally different use.

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-She is a life-saver.

-SORROW GROWLS

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HE LAUGHS

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Sorrow's nose is a finely tuned tool.

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She'll be using it to track me down underneath this thick snow.

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If you're walking, climbing or skiing in these mountains,

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by far the most frightening and dangerous thing is avalanches.

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You try and imagine tons of ice and snow

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coming plummeting down out of the hills.

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It's quite easy for a person to get buried alive.

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I can't imagine anything more frightening in the world.

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But I'm about to try it out first hand.

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This is a little Deadly 60 experiment

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and all I've got to save me is Sorrow's magical nose.

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-Hi. guys.

-Hello.

-Hello. OK. Shall I climb in?

-Yep.

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OK, have a got a camera to take in with me?

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Thank you very much.

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OK, guys. This is all a bit scary.

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Let's just hope that that dog's nose is as good as they say.

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Right, bury me, guys!

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They've assured me that I'll be totally safe

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under here in my snow cave.

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But that doesn't make me feel any less nervous,

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as they shovel in the snow, block out the light

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and everything goes quiet.

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OK, so now I'm buried alive...

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which is all pretty spooky and very, very cold.

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Obviously, if this was a real avalanche,

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I wouldn't have any space at all and that would be VERY frightening.

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I hope that dog comes quick.

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Above ground, Sorrow and her handler are brought in,

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but the clock is ticking.

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As avalanches settle, the snow sets hard like concrete,

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so a real victim could be injured, crushed AND out of air.

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So it's down to dogs like Sorrow to save the day.

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Just dying for the sound of some scrabbling paws overhead.

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The dogs are trained to zigzag back and forth,

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trying to pick up the scent of a buried person.

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But Sorrow's got to search this entire hillside.

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A well-trained sniffer dog's nose can distinguish between

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the smell of people who've walked over the snow

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and the faintest trace of a person hidden even ten metres beneath it,

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by searching for human scent drifting up through the snow,

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and then digging down towards the source.

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SORROW BARKS

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SCRATCHING

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I hear something.

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I think I might have been found.

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Dogs use powerful sniffs to draw in smells,

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and the part of their brain that deals with smell

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is much more developed than ours.

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Hey!

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-SORROW BARKS

-My saviour! Hello! Look at that!

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Come on, then!

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HE LAUGHS

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Oh, hello!

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Rescue!

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Let's get out.

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Where's my saviour? Come on, then. Come on, then!

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-Come on.

-Sit, sit, sit.

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That remarkable nose that's just sniffed me out under the snow

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is exactly the same kind of nose

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as you'll find throughout the dog family.

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On a wolf, it'd be used to track down its prey.

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So imagine not just one nose, but a whole pack

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constantly testing the air for the first whiff of dinner.

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The wolf uses all 220 million of its smell receptors to deadly use.

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So that sensitive canine nose can sniff out its prey,

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but how does it actually catch it?

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THEY LAUGH

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Well, I'm travelling back to the UK to meet a special type of dog that,

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just like its wolf cousin, can unleash a savage bite.

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Avon and Somerset's police force use German shepherds to hunt down

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and catch their criminals.

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I don't want to get bitten by one of these German shepherds -

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they have an incredible bite force.

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So what I'm going to do is cover my arm using this -

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the magic sleeve.

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Up here it's hard, solid plastic and down here it's very heavily padded.

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Hopefully, the dog will head for this, and I won't get bitten.

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I can't pretend for a second that I'm not a little bit scared.

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STEVE LAUGHS

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They love it when I get frightened.

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DOG BARKS

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Right. Now, I have to say that I'm going to be making a lot of noise

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and probably looking like I'm in a lot of pain.

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Don't worry. This is all part of the act.

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I'm pretending that I'm a criminal -

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I have to play that role right through,

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otherwise the dog won't do his job.

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OK. Nerves are rising a little bit, as is my heartbeat.

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Let's get started.

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OK, Justin! Let's go.

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Justin is a police dog handler

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and has been training his dog, Nero, for several years.

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'I've got a mini camera in my left hand,

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'so I hope he goes for the padded arm.'

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-NERO SNARLS

-Come on! Come on!

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I won't tell you again - stay there and calm down!

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Come on! Come on! Come on! Ahhhh!

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Ahhh! Ahhh! Ahh!

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Ooh!

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NERO GROWLS AND SNARLS

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Whoa!

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-Good boy, Nero!

-That was amazing!

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Ah! Come on, then! Oh.

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He's SO strong!

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you can see, despite the fact that he's half my weight,

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he uses it so effectively by bracing back with his legs

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and using his whole body to clamp down and drag with those jaws.

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-OK, Justin, I think he can come off now.

-Right. Criminal stand still!

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Nero, right!

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He-he-hey! Good boy!

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Good lad!

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-Good boy!

-How's about that?

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From a raging morass of teeth

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just completely quietened down by one single word from his trainer.

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THAT is incredible intelligence.

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When he's off duty, Nero is the family pet at home.

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Justin's training secret is to have Nero's favourite toy with him,

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so as soon as he calls, Nero will stop his attack and run off to play.

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These bite experiments are crucial for keeping the dogs fit

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and well practised for their police work.

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But you can tell Nero loves it.

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Wow!

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you certainly wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of one of those!

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Ooh!

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NERO GROWLS

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The raw aggression shown by police dogs

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stems from the hunting instincts of wolves,

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whose interlocking teeth can grip and hang onto struggling prey.

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So, now we've seen the skills of our working dogs,

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all experts at running,

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sniffing

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or biting...

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but the wolf is a pro at all three.

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And now it's time to try and find one in the wild.

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We're heading to Romania.

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Travelling in style, we're heading to a beautiful wildlife reserve

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in the Carpathian Mountains.

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-Comfy there, mate?

-Yeah, I'm all right. Are you?

-Yeah, perfect.

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Romania's home to Europe's largest population of grey wolves.

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Local researchers have several hides set up in secret locations

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throughout the forests.

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This gives us our best chance for a real wild encounter.

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Our mission to see a wild wolf is, well, a real mission.

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In fact, there's probably nothing we've ever done on the Deadly 60

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that's required more patience and more attention to detail.

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Come with me.

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-You all right?

-Yep.

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And there's evidence here that these woods are home to other carnivores,

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as well as wolves.

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This here is where a bear has come in the night,

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smelt food inside and scraped down here with its claws.

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But that's nothing. Wait till you see inside.

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Look at that!

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A brown bear actually got in through there,

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just bit away at the floorboards, climbed up. Scary stuff.

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I hope that doesn't happen tonight.

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OK...

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This bed here, that's where someone can grab some shut-eye

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when they're not on nightwatch duty.

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That's my seat and this here...

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is the infra-red camera which means that Johnny can film even in total darkness.

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And out there is the clearing where we are hoping to see our wolves.

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We've put down some old, rotting, smelly meat

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and the wolves should pick up the scent from miles away. I can smell it from here.

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There's also a small camera but I'm not going to go out there now

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because my scent could drive the wolves away.

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From here on in, it's just a waiting game.

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WOLVES HOWL

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So with all of our night-vision camera gear in place,

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we get settled into the hide and start the long wait.

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Once the sun goes down, the temperature plummets.

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It's pretty dark outside now. All you can see with the naked eye, are shapes and shadows.

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But we've got Johnny's infra-red camera here and I've a little monitor

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so I should be able to see everything that he can see through the camera,

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now it's just a question of sitting tight, keeping quiet,

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and waiting for some sign of our wolves.

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But it wasn't a wolf that first emerged from the shadows.

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There's something moving there.

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There! There, there, there!

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It's a bear.

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Can you see that, Johnny?

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It's a brown bear.

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Wow!

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This is a young male. He's not fully grown yet but you can still see

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the large hump at the shoulder, much bigger in males.

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This is wonderful for us, the brown bear is an old favourite of the Deadly 60.

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But it's not great news in our search for wolves.

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Wolves and bears don't tend to tolerate each other at food.

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So while he's here the chances of wolves turning up are very slight.

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The bear's been attracted to our rotten meat.

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He steals a chunk and heads off.

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With the bear gone, there's still a chance a wolf may appear.

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But after the early excitement of the bear's visit, the night grows longer and colder.

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Several hours later, I spot something on the monitor.

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Oh, hang on!

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There's something moving in the trees.

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Can you see that? It's a wolf.

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It's definitely a wolf.

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Can you see him?

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There, yes, yes, yes.

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Oh, no! He's carrying his front left foot.

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Can you see that? He's lame.

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It's a little after midnight, our first wolf has come in to investigate the food.

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Unfortunately he's got a bad left foot...

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The front left paw is damaged, he's carrying it quite badly.

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He's just nosing around... in the food.

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He's always on the lookout for potential threats around him.

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It may seem unusual that he's on his own,

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but actually wolves can be solitary for large periods of their lives.

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They don't spend all their time in packs.

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Just have to hope that paw's going to get better.

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Cos he's really going to struggle to hunt like that.

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'But the fact he's feeding tonight means he's got a much better chance of recovery.'

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To see a wild wolf in the forests of Transylvania,

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I just cannot tell you enough

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what a privilege this experience is.

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Absolutely remarkable.

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It's such a shame that he's injured.

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'After snuffling around the food, our wolf vanishes as quietly as he arrived,

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'giving us just the briefest, fleeting glimpse of a truly wild predator.'

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From Romania, we travel much farther north to a rather snowy Norway.

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The wolves here at Polar Zoo give us an incredible opportunity to get

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a much closer look.

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So wolves are one of the hardest animals in the whole world to encounter in the wild.

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But I do have a trick up my sleeve.

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We're actually now in the Arctic Circle in Norway,

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and behind this fence is a group of wolves that's kind of used to people.

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I've also got Tess here who's going to watch my back.

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She's going to be my bodyguard. Hi, Tess.

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-Hello.

-Hi!

-Are you ready?

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Absolutely, I think so!

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Let's go on in.

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Come in.

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I have to say now, these are not tame animals.

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They're still wolves so we need to watch our back at all times

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and just keep an eye on them.

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Beyond that fence...look at that!

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It's like coming into Jurassic Park.

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Absolutely huge fences and gates but these are such canny animals,

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they would escape if there was anything less.

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Here they come!

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Here we go.

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All right... Come on, puppies!

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Tess has been interacting with them since they were puppies,

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but it's not going to be the same with us, particularly with the camera equipment.

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WOLVES WHINE

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By studying these socialised wolves up close, Tess and her team

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are learning all about their body language and how they communicate.

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< Now, if we sit down...

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OK, I think this is typical.

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Why wolves are so misunderstood and difficult to encounter in the wild.

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They're obviously really inquisitive, they want to check out this new thing in their environment,

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but at the same time they are very careful and cautious.

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They don't want to come close to anything that could be dangerous.

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Things are very different when there's prey around.

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Wolves hunt large animals like deer that can be up to five times their body size,

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and well-armed with sharp hooves and antlers.

0:21:590:22:03

The incredible stamina of wolves, to run for miles and miles when chasing down prey

0:22:030:22:09

means that when they've locked onto a target, they mean business.

0:22:090:22:13

Wolves have keen hunting instincts and will pick off any animal that breaks away from the herd,

0:22:140:22:19

bringing it down with powerful jaws,

0:22:190:22:21

aggressive bites and co-ordinated teamwork.

0:22:210:22:25

But it's when the wolves have made a kill that the pecking order in the pack lets you see who's boss.

0:22:280:22:33

The top dog gets the pick of the best bits

0:22:350:22:38

and makes sure everyone knows who's boss.

0:22:380:22:41

'But without the lure of food, these wolves are taking their time to get used to the crew and me.'

0:22:430:22:49

This is really interesting.

0:22:490:22:52

As they're approaching, they're kind of chatting to each other.

0:22:530:22:56

Just figuring out who's going to be the first to be allowed to come in and talk to Tess, not to me.

0:22:560:23:03

Hello! Hello!

0:23:110:23:13

Wow!

0:23:130:23:15

OK. Now they're starting to build up their confidence.

0:23:170:23:21

They're still playing around with each other, still definitely some nerves going on.

0:23:220:23:27

The fighting and nipping and scratching and biting, it all has a real function

0:23:280:23:32

of keeping the team together and everyone in their right positions.

0:23:320:23:36

It also gives you a really good look at those teeth.

0:23:360:23:39

The canines are huge.

0:23:430:23:45

Utterly ferocious!

0:23:460:23:48

'Wolves have a bite twice as strong as our German Shepherd police dog.

0:23:490:23:53

'Tess knows each wolf from their different personalities. As they come closer,

0:23:550:24:00

'they greet her by licking her face.

0:24:000:24:02

'Although they might seem very much like domestic dogs,

0:24:030:24:07

'these wolves are still wild animals and our movements must be slow and cautious.'

0:24:070:24:11

As they approach, they're very much being led by that canine supersense,

0:24:150:24:21

smell.

0:24:210:24:23

Let's see what comes in first.

0:24:230:24:25

Always the nose, always sussing things out

0:24:260:24:29

with that incredible sense of smell first.

0:24:290:24:32

2,000 times more powerful than ours.

0:24:320:24:35

'That phenomenal sense of smell is used to track prey from over a mile away in the wild.'

0:24:380:24:43

They're gradually starting to get more and more confident, checking out Nick, the soundman,

0:24:450:24:51

and Johnny, the cameraman,

0:24:510:24:52

getting closer and closer.

0:24:520:24:55

But as they approach, I mustn't let myself forget how deadly these animals are.

0:24:570:25:01

And the wolves are quick to remind me who's in charge.

0:25:010:25:04

Go on, look...

0:25:040:25:06

Ow!

0:25:070:25:08

I think I might have moved a little bit too fast there,

0:25:080:25:12

and just got snapped at.

0:25:120:25:14

Just to show that there's nothing in my hands.

0:25:190:25:22

Wow. Just a nibble...but even so.

0:25:280:25:34

As individuals, wolves are awesome predators,

0:25:340:25:37

but it's when they come together as a pack that they are really deadly.

0:25:370:25:41

The way they bring themselves together, particularly before a hunt, is using a howl,

0:25:410:25:46

and we're going to try that now and see if we can get these guys to join in.

0:25:460:25:50

-Shall we give it a go?

-Give it a go.

0:25:510:25:53

THEY HOWL

0:25:530:25:56

WOLVES HOWL

0:26:040:26:07

It's working!

0:26:070:26:08

'The howl can be heard by other wolves over six miles away

0:26:170:26:21

'and also acts as a warning signal to rival packs to stay away.'

0:26:210:26:25

And what a wonderful, eerie, chilling stunning sound!

0:26:280:26:34

CHORUS OF HOWLS

0:26:340:26:37

The wolf. The voice of the wilderness and the ultimate team hunter.

0:26:370:26:43

Definitely on the Deadly 60.

0:26:430:26:47

Wolves use their phenomenal sense of smell to sniff out their prey,

0:26:490:26:53

then run it down with extraordinary stamina,

0:26:530:26:57

before using raw aggression to go in for the kill.

0:26:570:27:00

Wolves have secured a place on the Deadly 60.

0:27:020:27:06

This is the most work my crew have done in ages!

0:27:110:27:14

'Join me next time as we look for more deadly animals up in the snowy north.'

0:27:140:27:18

BEAST SNORTS

0:27:180:27:21

That's pretty scary stuff!

0:27:190:27:21

Are we going to see it...?

0:27:210:27:23

Wow!

0:27:230:27:24

Subtitles by Red Bee Media

0:27:360:27:39

Email [email protected]

0:27:390:27:43

Steve takes a close look at dogs and their distant relatives, wolves. He heads to the Arctic Circle where a pack of huskies show him a thing or two about stamina. Steve is then rescued by an avalanche dog whose incredible nose sniffs him out from deep beneath the snow. Finally he comes face-to-face with one of his favourite animals, the wolf.


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