Wildlife series. Steve and his trusty team head to the frozen north of Norway. He follows the tracks of Europe's largest cat, the elusive lynx, up into the hills.
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My name is Steve Backshall.
And this is my search for the Deadly 60.
Amazing! That's not just animals that are deadly to me,
but that are deadly in their own world.
My crew and I are travelling the planet
and you're coming with me every step of the way.
This time on Deadly 60, we're in Norway
in the frozen north of Europe.
All the deadly animals we'll be meeting here face serious challenges
just to survive in this environment,
from extreme sub-zero temperatures,
not to mention hunting and just getting around in this stuff.
But all of the animals we'll be looking for, lucky for us,
leave their story behind in the snow.
'Someone else who leaves more than a few clues in the snow
'are my dedicated Deadly 60 crew.'
-Steve, wait up!
-Steve, hold on!
-'Come on, boys!'
Norway is in northern Europe
and stretches right up into the Arctic Circle.
It's a frozen world of snow and ice.
My first target animal is going to be a full-on challenge.
We're heading into the hills
and we need to be ready for extreme conditions.
This is the most work my crew have done in ages. Come on, you lot!
They've got poles to help them. I don't have any poles.
Our mission is to find a wild cat that stalks these forests by night,
but is impossibly hard to find. It's the lynx.
Lynx spend most of their lives alone.
Stalking these snowy northern forests,
they're perfectly adapted to the cold,
but heavy, sinking, thick snow can turn a dash into a dawdle.
A sustained chase through the snow would be exhausting,
so a lynx relies on ambush and a super-quick pounce to catch a meal,
even prey as big as a reindeer.
The only signs these shy creatures leave are their tracks in the snow.
That's what we're following now.
Well, there's certainly an enormous amount of activity
that's been going on around here.
And down in front of us...
That there is the tell-tale paw print of a lynx.
I'll show you a little bit more clearly.
Those there are four big, broad, round toes,
then there's another large, broad pad at the back.
There's a lot of hair in between those, so as the pad spreads out,
it keeps them floating on top of the snow.
They run in a line down here, then hop over the fence
and in the field in front of us,
it just looks like they've been having an incredibly good time.
We've been told that the lynx have made a kill further up the valley,
so we keep stalking our predator's prints up into the forest.
The tracks here are very different to before -
deep in the snow and a big, long space between them,
which means that the animal here is moving much, much faster.
And the reason for that we can see up ahead of us in the snow.
That is the kill that we've come up here to find.
Wow! So this is the kill, exactly where we were told it would be.
It's a young, female roe deer.
And the flesh is still quite moveable.
It hasn't frozen solid, so it's relatively fresh.
The way this would have been killed is here, right at the throat.
The lynx would come in, clamp its teeth around the windpipe
and strangle the air out of it.
Death would come really quickly, probably within a minute.
Probably, after it killed this animal, it was frightened away,
and it might come back and feed again tonight,
so our best chance of getting a shot of a lynx
is to put up a remote camera here focused down on this animal
and hope it comes back in the night.
It's a long shot, but it's our best chance.
We leave the camera traps overnight and retreat to our tepee to warm up.
Outside, the temperature plummets, but we're cosy and well-fed.
Our lynx, though, has no escape from the elements.
I just hope that hunger drives him back to his kill.
Well, we've had a lot of snow overnight.
Let's hope our camera trap hasn't frozen over.
-It's got a sugar frosting over the top of it.
And my cameraman is stuck in the snow. Do you want a hand, Johnny?
As we said, I'm not massively optimistic about this.
Our carcass is completely covered in snow
and there's no tracks through here that have been since the snow,
so unless it happened early last night,
I don't think we've got any luck.
We've had no results on the camera trap.
Fortunately, though, I do have a Plan B
and we will get to see a lynx.
We'll have another crack at seeing the lynx later on,
but that will have to wait.
First off, we're going to meet another snowy predator.
It's the small, but formidable Arctic fox.
In the Arctic summer, the fox has a brown coat to blend into the tundra.
They brave snapping beaks to raid bird colonies for eggs and chicks,
eating anything they can to fatten up for the winter.
When the snow arrives, the Arctic fox has a makeover,
growing a thick, white coat that allows them to blend
into their snowy background.
Hairy feet provide warm, slip-proof shoes on the ice
and a thick tail acts like a scarf wrapped around its face.
All of the animals that we've met up here in the frozen north
have incredible coats to keep them warm. 'But we're not so lucky.
'Time for a Deadly 60 demonstration.'
OK, the first thing is the extremities.
Most of the heat for us is lost through the head,
so if I get rid of that and my gloves,
already I'm going to start feeling the cold.
OK, already starting to feel a little bit nippy.
# You're as cold as ice... #
OK, this is the bit I've been trying to put off as long as possible.
OK, that's instantly painful.
# You're willing to sacrifice
# You're as cold as ice... #
You can probably see I'm starting to shiver.
My teeth are starting to shake and I can't feel my feet already.
OK, so because I don't have that warm layer of fur next to my skin,
instantly, I'll start getting goose pimples and I'm starting to shiver.
That's my instant response to the cold.
An Arctic fox won't start to shiver until it's minus 50 degrees.
OK, that's pretty unpleasant.
I'll head inside and have a cup of hot chocolate.
The Arctic fox's coat is one of the warmest in the animal kingdom,
but in the past, that has been something of a curse for the animal.
Human beings have hunted them for generations
and in some places they are rare.
But in these enclosures at this breeding centre,
they're breeding Arctic foxes and reintroducing them to the wild.
The enclosures might look empty,
but our stars are hiding in dens under the snow.
During the summer, Arctic foxes are very resourceful, adaptable hunters.
They'll take anything from birds and eggs through to fish,
but in the winter, they are much more limited.
Their main prey are lemming -
small, furry mammals that tunnel around under the snow.
These tiny rodents could be a fox's ideal scampering supper.
But as lemmings mostly live buried underground,
Arctic foxes have a special method of hunting which I'll show you now.
Come on in, John Boy.
But you're not coming in.
These foxes are in for a treat.
I've got a game of hide and squeak in mind.
OK, so there's two Arctic foxes living inside this enclosure.
You can see here where they've been digging for food
and also quite a lot of yellow snow. Don't eat any of that, you guys!
So what I'm going to do
is I'm going to create a hole here
and try and make our own set-up lemming.
I'll show you how in a second. First, the digging.
Arctic foxes are armed with tough, dog-like claws
to scrabble through hard packed snow.
OK, can you pass me that camera, Nick?
All right, so what we've got here is a mini-cam,
which we're going to partially bury
and hopefully, that should give us a lemming's eye view
of an Arctic fox hunting.
Next thing, a little bit of meat, frozen absolutely rock-solid.
It doesn't look very appetising to me.
Put a couple of chunks in there.
The next thing we need to do is to put our lemming into the hole.
Obviously, we're not going to put a real lemming in.
Instead, what I've got here
is the sound that lemmings make when they're under the snow.
Bring your boom in, Nick. See if you can hear that.
Can you hear that? Yeah?
'Arctic foxes have fantastic, radar-like hearing
'and should be able to pick up even tiny squeaks from our speakers here.
'In the wild, they're always listening out for a meal.' Not bad.
OK, so you can hear just below the surface of the snow
our fake lemming.
Now all we need to do is bid a hasty retreat,
put ourselves back here somewhere
and hope that our curious Arctic fox comes in to take a look. Let's go.
'So we move back and get set up.
'These mats will keep us insulated from the snow
'as we wait for our predator to emerge.
'And as the sun starts to go down and our faces start to freeze,
'there's movement at the far side of the enclosure.'
Johnny, look. Look at that.
He's come up out of his den
and is making little yapping, barking calls.
He's perhaps a little bit anxious about our presence,
but he's definitely curious.
Come on, little fella. Come and investigate.
He's definitely heard our artificial lemming call.
He's just being cautious about us being here.
He can pick up those lemming calls from a long, long way away,
much further than the distance in this enclosure,
and he's coming right in close now.
He's just stood up, ears pricked up, listening to the sound.
Look at this. Johnny, look.
Those ears are expertly zeroing in on the squeaks.
He's going to give it a try. He's going to go for it, look.
He's gone right in to where the speakers are buried.
He's looking down at our electronic lemming right now.
Is he going to investigate?
He's sniffing... Oh, he's having a wee on the camera! That's not good.
He's just marking his territory, anything new in his territory.
Now he's starting to dig. He's starting to bury down.
He's going after the lemming he's heard from all that distance away.
..there it is. He's pulled up our speakers.
So fast when they dig. The paws are going at 100 miles an hour!
Not even a super fast lemming could outrun those furry feet.
Look at that.
He's being led by his hearing, not his sense of smell,
which is why he found the speakers before his reward.
He's got it! He's got the piece of meat that I left for him.
That is just incredible.
He heard our electronic lemming from the other side of the enclosure.
He came scampering over - bam! Dug down and had it in a second.
If that was in the wild, the lemming just would not stand a chance.
That's why the Arctic fox has got to go in the Deadly 60.
Even though he weed all over our camera.
An adaptable hunter, summer or winter,
with phenomenal precision hearing
and super scrabbling paws to nail their meal.
Arctic foxes are on the Deadly 60.
Usually on Deadly 60 we deal with predators,
but every once in a while there's a herbivore - it eats only plants -
that's worthy of special attention
as they become deadly if protecting themselves or their family.
This wonderful shaggy-looking beast behind me is a musk oxen.
Might not look particularly scary, but looks can be deceiving.
Throughout the Arctic Circle, male musk ox fight over females,
smashing heads and inflicting deadly wounds.
Musk oxen have very bad tempers and are built like tanks.
Strong, muscular legs, huge shoulders
and a horny sledgehammer for a head.
Imagine a 300-kilo steam train accelerating to 30 miles an hour
in just two seconds. That's faster than a sports car.
Once winter approaches, they shield out even the worst Arctic weather.
I've got one coming in behind me.
'I should be safe sitting here, but that male's starting to show off.'
This is completely natural behaviour. If you look at the trees,
all the bark's stripped off where he rams them. They do it all the time.
'I really hope this fence is good and strong.'
He's got quite an attitude, hasn't he?
'Coming face-to-face with these guys behind a fence is one thing.
'Out in the open, they're a totally different proposition.
'Here in the Norwegian wilderness,
'it's as cold as being inside a deep freeze.'
You've seen what an angry musk oxen can do. It's a little bit scary.
Our next step has to be to see them in their natural habitat.
The mountains of Norway have hundreds of miles of wilderness
and we've got an awful lot of area to cover.
Best way to get around is on one of these.
'Just getting about is a chilly challenge.
'There's an enormous distance to cover - miles of empty snowiness.'
Look at that!
There's one thing for sure -
these musk oxen have chosen a superb place to live.
'Somewhere out there are our musk oxen herds.'
Hang on. I think I see something.
Oh, yes! Yes, there they are!
OK, I think it's probably best we stop here.
'It seems really strange to find such big animals living out here
'in the middle of nowhere.'
The herd is about 200 metres in that direction.
So from here on in we'll be going on foot.
Here, I'll take that.
'And this time there are no fences.'
-Can you see those dark shapes, Johnny?
That's a herd of, wow, it looks about 20 animals, I'd say.
There's no point in us whispering. They know we're here.
We'll just go calmly and cautiously and just read the signs they give.
Look at that. What an encounter.
OK, there's a bit of movement going on. They're watching us.
A couple sitting down on the outside have moved into the main herd.
Yeah. I think this is as close as we want to go for the moment.
Let's set up here.
Musk oxen defences are not just about speed and a bad attitude.
When they feel threatened by wolves or bears,
they'll gather together as a herd with the calves on the inside,
presenting a wall of horns.
I've seen how quickly they charge
and those horns would make a wolf think twice about attacking. Scary.
Seems remarkable that an animal of this size can find enough
to feed on up here. It's all covered with snow. It seems so barren.
But in some spots you can see, just below the surface,
these rocks covered with lichen. And that's enough for them to feed on.
'It's incredible that big beasts lick scraps of food off rocks.
'Reading the signs, they seem a little more relaxed now.'
I'm probably about 70 metres away from them.
At top speed, they could cover that distance
in about 3 or 4 seconds.
'Yeah, I think this is far enough.
'I certainly don't want them to charge!'
The musk oxen.
With a short temper, super-fast acceleration
and that huge helmeted head they use as a battering ram,
they have to go on the Deadly 60.
Crashing onto the list come the musk oxen.
With a feisty short temper,
top gear acceleration
and a skull like a battering ram.
That is one deadly vegetarian.
'We never got to meet the lynx that made that kill.
'I promised to show you them.'
OK, we gave it our best shot, but we did well just to find tracks
and signs of lynx. You could spend your entire life in lynx land
and because they're so elusive, such shy, cunning creatures,
you might never, ever see them. But here at Polar Zoo,
we've got a perfect opportunity to get up close to some. Look.
OK, Johnny. Come on in.
OK, this is a sight that you could never, ever get in the wild.
First of all, these cats are mostly active by night.
Secondly, they are so careful,
so sensitive to the presence of humans
that this would just never happen.
To see a lynx at 100 metres
would make you one of the luckiest wildlife watchers in the world.
They look like big tabby cats,
but they are absolutely formidable predators
and I'm actually quite happy that they're this far away.
However, being as we have this unique opportunity,
we have to show you a little bit about what makes them so special.
'First up, I'll need a ladder.
'Lynx are awesome climbers.
'Their retractable claws can work like crampons taking them up trees.'
A little bit of...meat. Just up there.
'The presence of food switches on their hunting instincts.'
She's thinking about it. Go on, girl.
Oh, there! Yes!
That was both incredibly elegant,
swift and merciless.
The last swipe of the paw was just so fast.
'Being such good climbers, lynx are really at home in the trees.
'In fact, they'll hunt by jumping down from branches onto prey.
'She's not tame and definitely can't be trusted.'
I'd be lying...if I said I wasn't a little bit nervous.
Two lynx right above my head
and a big guy just stalking around in front of me.
Cats that can take on prey as big as deer.
They are awesome.
One of the lynx's deadly abilities is their capacity to spring
straight up from the ground potentially to catch a flying bird.
And...I'm going to try to show you that now.
Unfortunately, this one here has just got an elevated position.
That's a little bit freaky. I'm hoping she'll come down,
but not towards me.
OK, all right. I'm going up.
I'm hoping that's about the right height.
It's probably just over two metres.
So let's move the ladder away and move ourselves away.
And see our lynx in action.
All three of them are watching.
Are we going to see it? Oh!
That was extraordinary!
From a complete standing start, two metres straight up into the air.
That was magnificent.
Did you get that, Johnny?
'Prowling, pouncing predator of the frozen north.
Lynx are Europe's largest cats.
They're secretive forest hunters,
expert tree climbers
with a muscular leap to take their prey by surprise.
And they're one of the most beautiful animals on the Deadly 60.
Yes! Look at that!
You are utterly incredible!
Wow! Look at that! Yes!
Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2010
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Steve and his trusty team head to the frozen north of Norway. He follows the tracks of Europe's largest cat, the elusive lynx, up into the hills in the hope of seeing one, and gets a little nervous when he meets some in captivity. Arctic foxes and musk oxen are also on the menu in this deadly snowy episode.