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Countryman leaves beloved Exmoor to track bears in Alaska
COUNTRYMAN Johnny Kingdom’s dreams came true last summer when he left his beloved Exmoor in search of bears in Alaska.
Fans of the 74-year-old wildlife film-maker, photographer and presenter will be able to see how he got on during his trip in a one-hour BBC Four special aired next week.
It took Johnny, his wife Julie and a crew from Available Light Productions two days and three flights to reach the bears’ remote habitat, Kodiak Island, where they filmed for ten days.
But Exmoor was still not far from his heart as Johnny compared his days of catching salmon in the Barle River at Tarr Stepps with how the bears, the ‘experts’, do it in Alaska.
Johnny said: “The first thing I saw when I got off the plane was a wild wolf on the beach, then right after that I saw one of the bears digging up clams. I got as close as 20 metres, without a gun, so that was a bit scary.
"I can’t believe I have been there – it was a dream come true. It was a tremendous experience and I think it was the best place we have ever been.
"I am so pleased the BBC agreed to fund the trip. They have made a fantastic job of the programme. I also think people will like the film I made from the trip because there’s a lot in there that the BBC couldn’t fit into their programme.
“There’s only one more big thing I want to do and that is to film moose because I have followed deer here on Exmoor all my life and seeing the biggest deer of all would top it all off.”
As well as the bears Johnny had set out to find, the team were also lucky enough to film more than 100 sea otters, a humpback whale, bald eagles, tufted puffins, rare sea lions and foxes.
Johnny Kingdom and the Bears of Alaska will be shown on BBC Four on Wednesday (February 27) at 9pm.
Copies of the DVD featuring extended footage from the trip, Johnny Kingdom’s Alaska Bear Adventure, are available from www.johnnykingdom.co.uk