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Bearwalker: The Lynn Rogers Story - UPDATE June 26, 2024

Dr. Rogers with bears by lake shore

Today’s update from the WRI is a letter and video clip from award winning filmmaker, Dr. Ted Oakes, President of Oak Island Films


Director, Peter Lown and I recently returned from a successful four-day research trip to the Wildlife Research Institute. Our goal is to make a feature film about the remarkable life story of Dr. Lynn Rogers and his 57-year history with black bears.

As the Producer of many BBC films about the Shadow clan of bears (Bearwalker of the Northwoods, Bear Family & Me, Bear with a Bounty, Planet Earth Live) I’ve come to realize how remarkable and timely this narrative is. Dr. Rogers' life has been one of the most incredible I’ve ever come across. His knowledge of black bears is unparalleled, and it’s never been more important for the world to understand these amazing animals and our troubled relationship with them. Dr. Rogers' difficult journey to reveal the true nature of black bears is one of the most important stories about nature yet to be told.

If you do one thing today I would ask that you watch this short 3 min video which captures the essence of what we are trying to achieve:
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(all lowercase letters)

Our ambition is to make a 90-minute feature film for all the world to see—a film that will play in cinemas, on TV, in the North American Bear Center and around the world for the next fifty years. The film will be about bears as seen not only through the eyes of Dr. Rogers and a remarkable community of people in northern Minnesota, but also as seen by those trying to learn how to live with bears. This project will create many legacies - a legacy for the North American Bear Center, the Wildlife Research Institute, and anyone who loves bears.

Feature films are expensive, requiring the best staff and equipment the industry has to offer. Sadly, we’ve encountered resistance from many American broadcasters who fear this controversial story that is not just Dr. Rogers’ story. It’s also the bears’ story and your story. We’ve been continually amazed by your involvement and passion.

We need your help! As film-makers we’ve been able to raise some funding from a Canadian broadcasting fund and generous donations in the US, but we need more help - big and small. All donations would be to the Wildlife Research Institute’s 'Film fund’ and will be tax deductable. These gifts will help us create the assets needed to convince feature film funding agencies to back this project. Most importantly, donations will demonstrate that there is extensive international and local community support from people who want this story told. A story that could soon be lost forever.

Your donations will be pledged toward:

(1) A major feature film shoot and associated edit using ’top flight’ camera talent and equipment in August/September 2024 - $100,000 USD.

(2) Developing the film by creating development proposals, a 'taster tape,’ and travel to meet funding bodies and broadcasters in fall 2024 - $35,000 USD.

(3) Capture and Preservation of the 50-year Film Archive that has been created of Dr. Rogers and his research bears by nearly every major broadcaster including Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, National Geographic, ABC, the BBC and many others since 1972. We need to employ an archive specialist to reach out to broadcasters this fall and make digital copies of the master tapes before they are lost forever. This archival material could then be digitized, catalogued and used in the feature film and for exhibits in perpetuity in the North American Bear Centre - $30,000 USD.

All donations to the Wildlife Research Institute's 'Film Fund’ can be anonymous or publicly acknowledged according to your wishes.

Thank you for your love of bears and for helping if you can.

Dr Ted Oakes
Managing Director
Oak Island Films

Dr. Oakes, thank you for this letter and all you are doing to create this feature film.

And thank you all for all YOU do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

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