Vancouver Deadly 60


Vancouver

Wildlife series. Steve Backshall takes to icy waters in search of the world's biggest sea lion, and there's a surprise in store when Steve meets the infamous black bear.


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Transcript


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My name's Steve Backshall. Wow!

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And this is my mission, to find the Deadly 60.

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

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but animals that are deadly in their own world.

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My crew and I are exploring the planet,

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and you're coming with me every step of the way.

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This time on Deadly 60, we're in Canada,

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way over to the west in British Columbia.

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It's four times the size of Britain

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and it's packed with potential contenders for my Deadly 60 list.

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This province has endless amounts of forest and wilderness, but it also

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has plenty of people - and sometimes that suits the animals just fine.

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My first target though, is a marine,

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that is a sea-living predator.

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To see what makes it so fearsome,

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I am going to take a look at the frame this beast is built on.

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So you can tell a tremendous amount

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about animals and what they do by looking at their skulls and,

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perhaps more importantly their teeth, what's called their dentition.

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Starting down here, this is the skull of a mink.

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That's in the weasel family and they've got huge canine teeth.

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The same family, much bigger, we have a sea otter skull.

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Next, we've got a cat. This is a bobcat skull.

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That is certainly a predator right at the top of its game.

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Very different here is a dog skull.

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That's from a wolf.

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Here are the two largest land predators

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that you'll find this part of the world.

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We've got a black bear here and a polar bear skull here.

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This vies with the grisly bear

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for the title of the largest land predator in the world.

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So, if that skull belongs to the largest land predator in the world,

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then what do you think this belongs to?

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I mean, this has got to be some kind of dinosaur, right?

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Well, actually, this amazing creature

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is the next animal we're hoping to find on the Deadly 60.

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And it lives here, in the icy waters of British Columbia.

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It's the biggest, baddest sea lion in the world - the Steller sea lion.

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A fully-grown male can weigh as much as a car

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and bite through the biggest fish, like a chainsaw through chocolate.

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To enter their territory is perhaps even edgier than dining with sharks.

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Steller sea lions are almost like two different animals.

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When they're on land, they're better at moving around

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than many kinds of seals, but they're sluggish and slow,

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almost quite comedy in the way they move.

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But once they get into the water, it's a different story.

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They're amazingly agile, very, very fast,

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and they have a bit of a reputation for being inquisitive

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and coming up to divers and having a little nibble on them.

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I'm really hoping that

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that's how they work, because having seen what their jaws look like now,

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I certainly don't want them attacking me in earnest.

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Kit sorted, time to get wet.

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Diving in the Canadian seas is a bit like swimming in pea soup.

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The foggy waters hid the mighty hunters until the very last second.

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Oh!

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He is gigantic!

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This is spectacular!

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Well, I'm going to sit here on the bottom.

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Whoa!

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That's a big male Steller sea lion

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and a very, very frightening encounter

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as soon as we hit the bottom.

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Look at the size of him. He's huge!

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You guys get close together,

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otherwise, we're going to get absolutely mullered here.

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'A fully grown male Steller sea lion weighs ten times more than me

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'and is three metres long.

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'And in his massive wake, hordes of lightning female sea lions.'

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They're very lithe and slender. Really built for speed and they

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can twist and turn, chasing even the fastest of fish.

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Ooh! Crikey, that was close!

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'These inquisitive ladies are just giving me the once-over.

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'If I was a fish, though, they'd be nothing like as reserved.

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'In fact, it would be hunting time.

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'Hunting sea lions course through the water like torpedoes,

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'hitting fish at 30mph.'

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There's loads of them!

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I mean, at the moment, the animals do seem

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kind of playful and inquisitive,

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but because they're so very, very big it's a bit unnerving, actually.

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Ooh! Oi! Get off!

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Although they are very beautiful,

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every once in a while you get a flash of those teeth.

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'They have a mouth full of teeth, far more impressive

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'than a wolf or big cat, with canine teeth the length of my thumb.

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'Those lethal daggers are used to spear fish.'

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And it reminds you of quite how fearsome they are

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as a hunter and a predator.

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You've always got to have that in the back of your mind

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because they are potentially very dangerous animals.

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They're ever so bold.

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Mind you, when you're the largest sea lion on the planet... Whoa!

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..that strong, that powerful,

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you can do pretty much whatever you like.

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Ooh! Oi, get off!

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She's biting my head!

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Crikey, I hope they don't grab me like... Ow!

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Ah, that hurt!

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They're starting to bite now.

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Getting a little bit too bold.

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I think it's probably time that we should head up.

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'Playful bites just mean bruises, but I'm not sticking around

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'to see what happens when they get really grumpy.'

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But I don't think there's any doubt

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that you've got to put these incredible animals on the Deadly 60.

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They're awesome!

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The largest of all sea lions.

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They're super-streamlined, moving through the water like a torpedo.

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With powerful jaws and spear-like teeth.

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Fish filleting Steller sea lions - definitely deadly.

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Ooh.

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Talk about wild encounters!

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Yeah, they're quite big and scary, actually.

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Beautiful, yes, but they've got very, very big teeth.

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SEA LIONS ROAR

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'It seemed our sea lion encounter was done,

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'but we had a real surprise in store.

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'Sometimes even the most fearsome hunter can become the hunted.'

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There's a pod of orca - of killer whales -

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who have got a hold of a Steller sea lion.

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'Killer whales already have

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'a well-deserved place on my Deadly 60 list.

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'All of a sudden, two Deadly 60 animals were going head to head

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'in a genuine life or death face-off.'

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Despite the enormous size of these animals, it still takes

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an incredible amount of effort to kill something

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as large as a Steller sea lion.

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It is the biggest sea lion in the world. It's a ferocious predator,

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and it's a survivor, as well.

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Oh, double spy hop together! They both came up at the same moment!

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Oh, my goodness!

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It's like some kind of ballet!

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I'm almost certain these whales are coming up above the surface,

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to bring their eye above the surface so they can try and see where he is.

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They just can't quite locate him. He's hidden in amongst the kelp,

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obviously very, very tired.

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As a reminder of what our Steller sea lion is up against,

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have a look at what killer whales are capable of.

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This is a real wildlife drama happening right now.

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Just surfacing right behind the sea lion, almost like they're

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playing with him, but I think it's more because he's just in amongst

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kelp - thick seaweed which forms like a forest under the water.

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Possible that it's quite shallow here,

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and they can't quite get in at him.

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'No match for an entire pod of killer whales,

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'the brainy, sea lion wisely hides where they can't follow.

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'Hiding in the kelp makes it harder for the killer whales to see him

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'and impossible to actually get at him.'

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Whoa! 'The frustrated killer whales step the hunt up a gear.

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'The jumping, the splashing and the tail slaps are all meant

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'to intimidate the sea lion an drive him out of the kelp.'

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I don't believe what's happening!

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This is the most incredible wildlife drama I think I've ever seen.

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They're trying to freak it out and drive it out from where it's hiding.

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Over here we've got one thrashing its tail,

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going absolutely crazy with tail slaps.

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He's heading out, he's heading away.

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Our gutsy sea lion hasn't been fooled.

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He's using his superior manoeuvrability to outwit the orca.

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A big burst of bubbles right underneath where the sea lion was.

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'It's a waiting game for both the killer whales and the sea lion.'

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The sea lion's back out again.

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-How did it get all the way over there?

-Is there more than one?

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Just remarkable.

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And the sea lion has managed to escape.

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I can't believe the way our drama seems to be finishing.

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The sea lion's headed off in that direction, and our pod of orca

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just seem to have given up and they're heading off that way.

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There they go.

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He got away with it, he escaped!

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That has got to be the gutsiest sea lion on the planet,

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swimming in that direction, right around the shore.

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'I put Steller sea lions on the list as a super-charged fish hunter,

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'but this proves my point for reasons I'd not considered.

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'Outnumbered ten to one,

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'by killer whales many times his size and strength,

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'our Steller sea lion had the guts, the speed,

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'the brains to elude them and survive.

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'Our respect for the Steller sea lion has gone through the roof.'

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'Here in Canada, people and wild animals often live side by side,

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'so we're heading into the city of Vancouver to search for potential

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'contenders for my Deadly 60.

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'The crew and I were heading to our hotel when we came across

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'a nocturnal hunter.'

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How about that?

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We were just heading home when, out of one of the windows, we spied

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one of the residents of the city, which is a wild animal that's doing

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really, really well in here, amongst people.

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It's up here somewhere.

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Oh, my goodness. Ha-ha! How about that?!

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Actually, this is an animal that does have a claim to being deadly.

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They're phenomenal predators, digging in the soil

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looking for insects and worms.

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'This city critter is a skunk.

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'It might look cuddly, but trust me, this is the last animal on earth

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'you'd ever want to hug.

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'Skunks are fearsome bug killers.

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'With curved claws for excavating an insect supper, they'll munch down

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'small mammals with a mouth bristling with sharp teeth.

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'But if a bigger beast makes the mistake of taking on the skunk,

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'then pretty soon they'll wish they hadn't.

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'The skunk is armed with a potent defensive spray,

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'and this chemical weapon can even harm humans.'

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MUSIC PLAYS

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'The skunk sprays when it feels threatened,

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'but the spray is so highly toxic it can cause temporary blindness,

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'and the stench alone will turn the strongest of stomachs.

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'The toxic spray is so effective the military have

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'copied its chemical make-up and use it to disperse angry crowds.

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'So we're tiptoeing around as quiet as can be.'

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There he is, just down there, scampering through the bushes.

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'The black and white colouration warns predators to look elsewhere.'

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It's right in front of me.

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Steve, where is it?

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-Just down here, Johnny.

-What happens if a skunk sprays you, Steve?

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If a skunk sprays you, you are in a world of pain.

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I remember being with a dog that got sprayed a few years back,

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and everything it sat on,

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everything it even went close to had to be thrown away. The smell

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was so powerful it made you want to vomit just being close to it.

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Really, it's the incredible stinging, acidic burning

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if it gets into your eyes and onto your skin.

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And that's why it has this vibrant

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bright white and black warning colouration.

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'Mammals this size are often on the menu for all sorts

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'of bigger predators. But one spray from a skunk and they soon learn.

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'This young mountain lion is about to be taught a valuable lesson.

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'The mountain lion is ten times the size of our hero,

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'but Eau de Skunk is nature's most unstomachable stench.

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'Skunk one, lion nil.'

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Look at that.

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I think he's quite a young one, actually.

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Just scampering off into the bushes, and I have to say I'm secretly quite

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glad because you really wouldn't want to get sprayed by a skunk.

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There is nothing funny about it, at all.

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'Unplanned encounters are what make these missions exciting

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'and unpredictable, and you don't get much more unpredictable

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'than an animal the size of a rabbit that can overwhelm a lion.

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'The skunk may be small, but it has a huge attitude,

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'with sharp teeth and digging claws, but it's their stinking acidic spray

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'that gets them on the Deadly 60.

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'The striped or spotty scrabbling stink bomb, the skunk.'

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'While we were in Vancouver we bumped into one animal that's so

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'adaptable and successful in the city, that they're everywhere.'

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Oh, there's one. Look, Johnny.

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'That animal is the raccoon.'

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Look. Look.

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'One racoon let his greediness get the better of him.

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'Deadly 60 crew to raccoon rescue!'

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The raccoon's stuck in the bin.

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This could be interesting.

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Yeah, if you could grab me a branch that would be great.

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This is kind of the unfortunate side effect

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of racoons living so close to people.

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They spend an awful lot of time in dustbins because it's full

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of high-calorie, sweet, salty food,

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and this poor little fella's got himself trapped.

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Just sent off my director. He's going to try and get a branch,

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and hopefully we can provide

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just a little ladder that he can use to climb out.

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He's also

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quite bitey. He's snarling at me at the moment.

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'Obviously, raccoons don't spend their whole lives

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'stuck in rubbish bins.

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'I want to show you how good they are at hunting.

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'Down at the seashore, raccoons search for a shellfish supper.

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'They hunt at night and only use touch,

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'despite not having flexible thumbs like we do.

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'To make this demonstration fair,

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'I'm going to have my thumbs tied up.'

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Let's have a bit of an idea of what life is like as raccoon.

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'And this is their ideal hunting ground, with plenty of shellfish.'

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First, what the raccoon would do is they have very, very fine hairs

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around the end of each finger,

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and they use those to touch around,

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like this, almost not using their sight and their smell.

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Raccoons use their incredible sense of touch to build up a 3D mental map

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of their surroundings.

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It's as complex as human sight, and it's as though they're seeing

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with their hands.

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I've got myself some mussels here.

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Right. Let's see how I go with opening these

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without using my thumbs.

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-You used your thumbs there as well.

-I didn't use my thumbs!

-I saw you

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use your thumbs. Yeah, we saw you.

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'OK, my crew were right.

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'I cheated, and I don't come close to having the skill of a raccoon,

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'or the strength to break into shellfish without thumbs.

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So there's no doubt with their brains, their resourcefulness,

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their ability to adapt to their environment,

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raccoons have got to go on the Deadly 60.

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Sensitive hands help it effectively see what it touches.

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So perceptive, they can hunt in pitch black,

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can break into the toughest of shells - without any thumbs.

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Raccoons - masked bandits and deadly.

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'The skunk and the raccoon both make best use of what we leave behind.

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'But this next animal is far less welcome in our cities.

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'Ten times stronger than a man and capable of dealing destruction

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'with its massive paws, this is a black bear.

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'So far on Deadly 60,

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'we've met two kinds of bears - the seal-eating polar bear...'

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Out there, about a mile off in the distance, is our first polar bear.

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He's just, sort of,

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ambling about at the moment.

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'And the salmon-slicing grizzly bear.'

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There!

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Look at that, just wandering along the shoreline!

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'Those bears were really hard to find, but that's not the case here.

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'Black bears are everywhere.

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'Many of the towns in Canada have been built

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'on the edge of black bear territories.

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'Bears have the most potent sense of smell

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'in the animal kingdom.

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'Our rubbish draws them in from miles away.

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'Keeping bears away from people is a constant battle.

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'Seeing skunks and raccoons in your garden is one thing,

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'but finding a bear is a whole other story.

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'This footage shows bears in someone's front garden.

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'Imagine waking up to that in the morning!

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'I've come to Whistler to find out more about these insatiable eaters,

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'and it wasn't long before we bumped into one.'

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I don't believe it!

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'Be under no illusion - these bears may look cute and cuddly,

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'but appearances can be deceiving.'

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Wandering across the road in front of us is a bear.

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Look at this, it's just walking

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right down the footpath.

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This is the kind of situation

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the people in Whistler deal with every day.

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They may feed mainly on plants,

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but this is still a bear with all the bear superpowers.

0:22:180:22:23

They're huge, heavy beasts with strength

0:22:230:22:26

that is almost unparalleled.

0:22:260:22:28

They can run as fast as a racehorse and are equipped with fearsome claws

0:22:280:22:33

and massive jaws.

0:22:330:22:34

The situation with black bears coming into towns has arisen

0:22:340:22:38

because people have been irresponsible with their rubbish.

0:22:380:22:42

With a sense of smell 100,000 times more sensitive than ours,

0:22:420:22:45

black bears can smell an easy meal from miles away.

0:22:450:22:50

Black bears don't seek humans as food, but if they feel frightened,

0:22:510:22:56

cornered or are protecting cubs, they can lash out.

0:22:560:23:00

The way you get rid of rubbish is really important around bears.

0:23:000:23:04

With their sense of smell, they can pick up the scent of rubbish

0:23:040:23:08

from miles around. And they can also get into

0:23:080:23:10

a conventional rubbish bin really easily, so special bear bins

0:23:100:23:14

like this, that they can't get their paws into,

0:23:140:23:17

are absolutely essential.

0:23:170:23:19

It seems tragic that this wondrous beast can be seen as a pest,

0:23:220:23:27

with that magnificent muzzle buried in our junk.

0:23:270:23:31

I want to see them where they're at home, rather than

0:23:310:23:34

really in our home.

0:23:340:23:36

It's crazy, crazy early in the morning,

0:23:390:23:43

not long after dawn, and the entire crew have crammed into

0:23:430:23:48

the back of this car because we're heading uphill, looking for bears.

0:23:480:23:53

'The black bear's natural diet is mostly made up of berries,

0:23:580:24:02

'but in the wild they can occasionally be predators,

0:24:020:24:05

'sometimes devouring colonies of ants

0:24:050:24:07

'and, like their grizzly bear cousins, catching salmon.

0:24:070:24:11

'Black bears are the least choosy of the bears in what they eat.

0:24:120:24:16

'They prefer the easy life and eat whatever's readily available.

0:24:160:24:20

'Most of the time, that's plants.'

0:24:200:24:24

Here, Johnny...

0:24:310:24:32

Oh, no, no. He's right alongside the road.

0:24:320:24:35

Got our first bear in front of us,

0:24:350:24:36

just shambling away, up the road.

0:24:360:24:41

He's gone now.

0:24:420:24:44

'This time of year, natural food is plentiful

0:24:460:24:49

'and berry-guzzling bears are everywhere.'

0:24:490:24:52

There.

0:24:570:24:59

They're just heading up. Lovely.

0:24:590:25:02

During the winter, Whistler is one of the best-known ski areas

0:25:060:25:10

in the world, and it's quite weird actually seeing these bears

0:25:100:25:14

wandering across the slopes here, with the silent ski lifts behind us.

0:25:140:25:18

You can just hear the whir of the ski lift over there.

0:25:180:25:20

We've got our mother,

0:25:220:25:25

just crossing the slopes now, and one of her cubs halfway up a tree.

0:25:250:25:30

Beautiful.

0:25:320:25:34

It's a pretty good start to the day.

0:25:340:25:36

'In the mountains, where they don't feel cornered,

0:25:380:25:41

'the bears pretty much ignore us.'

0:25:410:25:43

Nice and quiet, everyone.

0:25:450:25:47

This is actually quite an unusual experience - totally surrounded

0:25:470:25:50

on all sides by black bears.

0:25:500:25:53

There's one just about 15, 20m in front of me,

0:25:530:25:55

just shambling down the slopes.

0:25:550:25:57

And another four around us, here.

0:25:590:26:03

I think this is to do with the fact that there is

0:26:030:26:05

so much food here, so many berries,

0:26:050:26:07

and they're so involved with eating them,

0:26:070:26:10

that they're not fussed about our presence.

0:26:100:26:14

They have boundless personality

0:26:140:26:16

and are definitely one of Canada's wild wonders.

0:26:160:26:19

They don't want conflict with people,

0:26:210:26:23

but black bears can occasionally turn to being scavengers.

0:26:230:26:27

And in the city, we produce so much rubbish,

0:26:270:26:29

black bears find it irresistible, and this is where people and bears

0:26:290:26:33

come into close contact.

0:26:330:26:35

If we were responsible with our rubbish,

0:26:350:26:38

bears would have no reason to come into cities.

0:26:380:26:41

Well, black bears are a bit of a weird one for the Deadly 60, really.

0:26:410:26:46

There's no doubt that it's an animal with great strength,

0:26:460:26:49

deceptive speed, amazing senses and a great ability to climb.

0:26:490:26:53

I mean, it has the potential to be very dangerous indeed.

0:26:530:26:57

But the truth of the matter is that for the vast majority of the year,

0:26:570:27:00

all they eat is plant matter and really they're no danger to humans

0:27:000:27:04

whatsoever, unless people are really, really stupid.

0:27:040:27:08

So, cool as they are,

0:27:080:27:10

I don't think I'll put black bears onto the Deadly 60.

0:27:100:27:13

'And on our next electrifying edition of the Deadly 60...'

0:27:170:27:20

I have never been this close to a tapir before.

0:27:330:27:37

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:27:470:27:50

E-mail [email protected]

0:27:500:27:53

Steve Backshall takes to the icy waters of British Columbia in search of the biggest, baddest sea lion in the world. After an unexpected encounter with a killer whale, he heads back to the city on the trail of one smelly contender before trying his hand at becoming a raccoon. Despite immense strength, powerful claws and a fearsome reputation in Canada, there's a surprise in store when Steve tracks down the infamous black bear.


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