THE MAN WHO LIVES WITH BEARS, ON "PRIMETIME: THE OUTSIDERS," AIRING TUESDAY, JULY 8
What would compel a mild-mannered retired school teacher from Anchorage, Alaska to spend half the year in the wilderness, opening his cabin's surroundings up to wild black bears and grizzlies, the largest land predator in North America? Jay Schadler goes into the deep wood of Alaska to find out, and asks: which is more dangerous, a 700 pound grizzly or a 70-year-old retired school teacher named Charlie? "Primetime: The Outsiders," which features reports on people who live by their own rules, in worlds unfamiliar to the rest of society, airs TUESDAY, JULY 8 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on ABC.
Charlie Vandergaw began his life among bears in the wild 20 years ago. He had built a cabin 50 miles from Anchorage and left the majority of his 40 acres untouched, which was an ideal environment for hunting. During the winter he taught high school science, and in the summer he spent his summers in the cabin. But gradually he stopped hunting bears and transformed to simply living among them. Over the summers, he has seen eight generations of bears come and go and knows most of them by the names he has given them. He says he has a special connection to the bears, that he is obsessed with touching bears and that, in particular, he is mesmerized by grizzlies. He invites "Primetime" to the place he calls "bear haven," where no matter where one looks, there are bears relaxing, bears fighting, and Charlie right in the middle of it all. Despite the fact that these animals can quickly turn killers and that the state is watching Charlie closely, this summer, Charlie continues, as he has for the past two decades, to live among the bears. Schadler visits Charlie and the bears to capture their interaction, including remarkable footage of Charlie feeding them from his own hands. But how long can Charlie continue to live among the bears?
David Sloan is the executive producer of "Primetime: The Outsiders."