BBC film ‘disturbed polar bears’
Presenter Gordon Buchanan tells BBC Breakfast about his encounter
A film-maker who shot a BBC documentary about polar bears could be fined up to £5,700 after Norwegian authorities said his methods disturbed the wild animals.
Jason Roberts was making The Polar Bear Family and Me, in which bears were filmed from a clear plastic hide.
One attacked the box and the Svalbard islands’ deputy governor said the crew broke regulations because they looked “like they are disturbing the animals”.
Mr Roberts said he had “never bothered, disturbed or injured” the bears.
Mr Roberts was named as associate producer on the series, which was fronted by cameraman and presenter Gordon Buchanan and broadcast on BBC Two in January.
Svalbard deputy governor Lars Erik Alfheim said he had sent a letter to Mr Roberts informing him he could be fined up to 50,000 kroner (£5,700) under the province’s environmental protection act.
‘Giant ice cube’
“It says in the letter that we have looked at the production by the BBC and in some places there is footage that looks like they are disturbing the animals,” he said.
“The one that is of most concern is the one with the box and this Buchanan figure.”
In a clip of the show, a bear could be seen scratching at and shaking the box, dubbed the “ice cube”, with Buchanan inside.
Mr Roberts was not available for comment but was quoted by Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten as saying he had worked with polar bears for 22 years and would not accept the fine.
“I love them and have never bothered, disturbed or injured bears,” he said.
A BBC spokesperson said: “We are aware of these concerns, but as they refer to on-going discussions between the parties in Norway it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”