A Bear’s Necessities

One scientist’s decades-long mission to understand the secrets of black bear dens – and how to protect them before it’s too late.


Production Company: Wild Bus Films

Broadcaster: Hakai Magazine

Release Date: 2022

Director: Jemma Titheridge

Photos: Jérémy Mathieu



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What we did

A Wild Bus Films original documentary made in partnership with Hakai Magazine tells a story about our home on Vancouver Island.

In the Pacific Northwest, black bears are experiencing a housing crisis. Biologist Helen Davis has studied bear denning on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island for 30 years and has documented over 150 dens—the vast majority of which involve large old growth trees. The hollow insides of these trees, and the cavities they create when they fall, are perfect den sites for coastal black bears looking to stay warm and dry. Female bears also give birth during hibernation; dens provide critical shelter to cubs during the first three months of their lives, when they are unable to survive outside.  As more and more old growth is logged each year, Davis is nervous for the bears.

Aside from sheltering bears, old growth forests pump the air full of rich oxygen and store carbon better than young forests. They also house a plethora of species, some of which cannot thrive in other types of habitats, such as the northern spotted owl, southern mountain caribou, and marbled murrelet. The forests also hold immense cultural value to First Nations who for thousands of years have made use of cedar trees for everything from basket weaving to wood carving to textiles. And then, of course, old growth forests protect the land itself: being more equipped to withstand fires, flooding, and landslides than immature forests.

We respectfully acknowledge the filming took place in the traditional territories of the Kwakiutl, 'Na̲mg̲is, We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations and give thanks to the First Nations for allowing us to work on their lands.

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