Janet A Wilson

My passion is the wonders of wildlife. I once went on a several-week photographic course with a National Geographic wildlife photographer, and the experience was one of my life’s highlights. I loved it—just sitting quietly and waiting for the perfect moment to capture the action. Growing up in South Africa and living in the wilderness when Tom was working as an exploration geologist, my acceptance of African wildlife in our lives was high, yet in Canada, my acceptance of bears is low; despite bears being wildlife, I don’t understand or know bear behaviour so I am uncertain as to what to expect or do should I be confronted by a bear. Fortunately, that has never happened to me, but a bear has charged Tom. Tom said it happened so fast he had no time to reach for his bear spray. Luckily, it was just a mock charge, and the bear retreated into the bush. Charlie Russell was an Alberta naturalist who spent a lifetime studying bears and once lived amongst grizzlies. We were lucky to meet him in Waterton National Park, and he took us on a hike, hoping we would see bears. He showed us a tree that bears climb and hang out in. Charlie kept a ladder hidden in the bushes, so I climbed up to see the branches and the claw marks. He said it was unfortunate that we didn’t see any bears that day. He wrote four books about grizzly bears. A documentary was also made of Charlie living peacefully among grizzly bears in the wilderness. He lived a rich and full life. Here is a link to Charlie’s website, https://charlierussellbears.com/

It’s interesting how we become comfortable in wilderness environments we know, understand, and respect. It’s heartbreaking and tragic that wildlife is decreasing worldwide, and soon, some species will be extinct. In my next life, I want to work in the study, work and care of wildlife. I think of Innis Dagg, the giraffe lady; Dian Fossey, who lived among the gorillas in Rwanda and was murdered for protecting gorillas; or Jane Goodale, the chimpanzee lady—incredible women whom I admire.