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The Time Bill Whitaker Came Face-To-Face With A Massive Grizzly Bear On 60 Minutes

Great white sharks, lions, polar bears ... these are some of the many different predatory animals that naturally make us apprehensive thanks to numerous monster movies and TV shows. But in real-life scenarios, these fearsome predators typically only attack humans if they feel threatened by human behavior or are suffering from a lack of available food sources. For the American grizzly bear, safe and responsible encounters with these beautiful and mysterious animals can ensure you do not end up like Timothy Treadwell from the 2005 Werner Herzog documentary "Grizzly Man."

But grizzly bears are all too often depicted as ferocious, man-eating beasts that hunt people in close proximity. The truth is that grizzly bear attacks on people are almost always by circumstance when people wander into their domain, such as in 2015's "The Revenant." The reality of a grizzly bear encounter is more often much different from what fiction depicts.

Such was the case back in 2020 when Bill Whitaker of "60 Minutes" encountered a grizzly bear on an investigative assignment in Montana's Mission Valley.

Using bear spray is more effective at repelling a grizzly bear than deadly force

In October 2020, Bill Whitaker was on assignment in northwestern Montana to report on the successful repopulation efforts of American grizzlies in the area. While on an expedition in the woods, he and a group of conservationists came upon a 300-pound grizzly bear caught in a snare that already had its sense of danger on high alert.

The grizzly charged at Whitaker and the team, but thankfully, the use of repellents was not necessary since the bear was only demonstrating a show of force. Within his commentary on the "60 Minutes" special, the journalist stated, "they're [grizzlies] not out to get us. They're bears, and a bear's life is to eat and eat and eat." Whitaker went on to explain that bear spray is the most effective tool to carry with you into areas populated with grizzly bears, since it will deter a bear from thinking people are food or that the food we have "is worth attacking us for." 

Bear spray can deter bears to the point where deadly force is not necessary, which can violate the Endangered Species Act depending on the circumstances. Whitaker's report on a widely-watched news program demonstrated both bravery and understanding of the reality of these ferocious, yet largely misunderstood, predatory animals.