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DNR Geologist Says Gold Rush Dramatizes Bear Threats

"Gold Rush" is a reality series that focuses on the mining industry, a line of work that offers rewarding highs and dismal lows. Not unlike the "Real Housewives" franchise, the series has spawned offshoots that take viewers to various locations in Canada and Alaska, as well as places like South America and New Zealand. Mining is a notoriously dangerous profession where the risk of injury is high, whether it's from explosions, working with machinery, electrocutions, slipping and falling, or a respiratory illness (per CDC). However, the series also shows that bears are another looming threat miners face in their day-to-day lives.

Long-time fans know that the series has been harmful to local wildlife. Earthworks reported that the negative environmental impacts of gold mining affect humans, but also threaten the ecosystems of natural areas. As remote mining locations encroach on a bear's habitat, it makes sense that the miners featured on "Gold Rush" run into these deceptively adorable predators. One of the very first episodes of the series shows the crew killing a bear that wanders too close to camp, while cast member Derek Dodge was fined under the Yukon Wildlife Act in 2018 after killing several black bears on his property (via CBC News). However, one scientist has weighed in on how bears in the wild would most likely react to a large-scale mining operation.

Bears are usually deterred by the loud noises of mining equipment

While the National Park Service reports that bear attacks on humans are rare and that encounters in the wild usually end without injury to either party, the animals can still pose a significant danger. Still, one expert doesn't think that bears make for a realistic antagonist on "Gold Rush." For Kerwin Krause, a geologist for the Department of Natural Resources, it seems like the threat of bear attacks is an aspect of the series that's exaggerated for dramatic effect. In an interview with The Oregonian, the scientist explained why bears don't typically linger around mining camps, and he made some excellent points.

"It just seemed over-dramatized to me," Krause told the outlet. "In a mining camp, with noise and big generators, they stay away. They're not going to usually bother you. They're well fed. There's tons of fish and berries for them to feed on."

When it comes to "Gold Rush," these scenes definitely make you wonder if the series is actually scripted. The machines featured on the show are often loud enough that subtitles are used to help keep the audience informed despite the noise. It certainly seems like enough to ward off a bear. As a viewer, you'd hope that the minds behind the show would want to avoid harming wildlife at all costs and that using deadly force against an animal would only happen in the direst of circumstances.