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Spirit Bear Family: B.C. filmmaker returns to film Kermode bear

03/26/2015 03:50 EDT | Updated 05/26/2015 05:59 EDT
Chelsea Turner may have only been six months old when she first lived in the Great Bear Rainforest on British Columbia's central coast, but the remote island with its diverse wildlife and lush forests will always feel like home to her.

"Certainly whenever I go back there, it feels like home," she told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff. "Being out there feels very natural — just like the most natural thing in the world."

Chelsea and her parents Jeff and Sue Turner spent two years in the Great Bear Rainforest in the early 1990s, filming and studying the Kermode bear, also known as the "spirit bear".

Twenty-five years later, the family returned to the stunning region for eight months; their documentary, Spirit Bear Family, airs tonight night on CBC's The Nature of Things.

Jeff recalls the very first time he laid eyes on a Kermode, the rare North American black bear with a rare recessive gene that makes their fur white.

"He came out of the woods, and he looked down — we were in this creek — and he ran down this slope and ran up the creek and put his head right between the legs of my tripod, looking for fish because there were salmon swimming up," Jeff said.

"And I thought, 'Wow. This is really something.'"

In Spirit Bear Family, the Turner family track a mother spirit bear and her two black-furred cubs, observing how the mother teaches her offspring to fend for themselves while also protecting them from a big male black bear on the creek.

Chelsea says the biggest change to the Great Bear Rainforest is the fact that so many more people visit it now than they did 25 years ago.

However, Jeff says the bears will still allow people to get up close and personal "if you do everything right, and you're respectful and you allow them the time to make decisions and decide how close they want to come."

Spirit Bear Family airs on CBC's The Nature of Things at 8 p.m. PT

To hear the full interview, listen to the audio labelled: B.C. family returns to the land of the spirit bears

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