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The State Of Alaska Took Gold Rush To Task For Killing A Bear

There are plenty of perfectly acceptable reasons for killing a bear — just ask anyone who's ever owned a Teddy Ruxpin.

Unfortunately for the cast and crew of "Gold Rush: Alaska," the subject of today's discussion was not the cassette tape-fed result of 1980s corporate technomancy and good intentions. It was, in fact, an Alaskan black bear, or Ursus americanus, one of three species of bear native to the United States. Longtime viewers of the program will recall that in its second episode, a black bear wandered into camp, drawn in by an unattended, open box of graham crackers. The bear in question, now a full one-third of the way to being able to make a s'more, absolutely refused to vacate until the people in the area went "boo" and "scat" and "get out of here." Then it left. End of story.

Or it would have been, had the folks behind the Discovery series not decided that it was bear killin' time. "That bear's not gonna get between my son and I," promised Greg Remsburg, pumping his rifle and presumably responding to a threatening phone call that the bear made off-screen. A hunting party was formed, a bear was shot, and then — and this is where things get tricky when you're making a mistake — the footage was shown on cable television and uploaded to the internet.

Alaska deemed Gold Rush killing not a bear necessity

Representatives of the great state of Alaska were none too thrilled with the actions of the cast and crew of "Gold Rush: Alaska," and they weren't shy about saying so. One particular sticking point: That the bear that was killed was not the bear that "threatened" the camp.

Reporting on the 2010 incident, Today cited geologist Bill Cole of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, who stated, "The bear that was shot did not appear to be the same bear that entered [the "Gold Rush: Alaska"] camp, and was not in camp when it was killed." The end conclusion: The makers and stars of the series were sternly encouraged to show more caution when gunning down critters moving forward. Nature, in all her mysterious beauty, carried on relatively undisturbed.

Except it didn't, because then in 2018, CBC reported that "Gold Rush's" Derek Dodge paid a $3,500 fine in a plea deal regarding charges that he and his company had killed four black bears and failed to report it to the proper authorities. Change doesn't happen overnight. Or, you know, over the course of eight years sometimes.