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Polar Bear Family & Me series could be fined by Norwegian authorities

The Polar Bear Family & Me

Story by Jack Foley

THE makers of popular BBC wildlife documentary The Polar Bear Family & Me could be fined up to £5,700 by Norwegian authorities for disturbing the wild animals it was observing and filming.

According to the BBC’s website, Jason Roberts – who was credited as associate producer on the series – has been listed as one of the filmmakers facing the charges.

It said that Svalbard deputy governor Lars Erik Alfheim had sent a letter to Mr Roberts informing him of the potential fine, of up to 50,000 kroner (£5,700), under the province’s environmental protection act.

Mr Alfheim claims that footage in which bears were filmed from a clear plastic hide, and involving presenter Gordon Buchanan almost being attacked in the box, looked “like they are disturbing the animals”.

“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.”

Although neither Roberts nor Buchanan were available for immediate comment, Mr Roberts is quoted by Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten as saying that he did not accept the fine as he had “never bothered, disturbed or injured” the bears in 20 years of working with them.

A statement by the BBC added: “We are aware of these concerns, but as they refer to ongoing discussions between the parties in Norway it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

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