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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 15:55 GMT
'Fish-cam' catches the bear facts
Picture of bear from 'Salmon-cam'
Initially, the bears were interested in the "Salmon-cam"
A life-size plastic salmon has helped a Bristol film company capture candid shots of Grizzly bears in the wild.

John Downer Productions used the fake fish while filming on location for a wildlife documentary in Alaska.

A tilting camera inside the Salmon enabled the team to record footage of bears diving for salmon in a river.

Assistant producer Phil Dalton said: "These camera techniques mean we can get very close up to the subject without affecting their behaviour."

The "Salmon-cam" was just one of many innovative cameras used by the John Downer team while filming a documentary about bears for the BBC.

'Reality TV'

The company hid a camera in bamboo canes to get rare footage of Giant Pandas in their natural habitat in North West China.

"Boulder-cams" and "Trash-cams" were used while filming Black Bears in the US.

Mr Dalton said the technology meant wildlife documentary-makers could use multiple camera angles to film animals.

Picture of the 'Salmon-cam'
The camera survived its ordeal relatively unscathed
"You get a very different feel using wide-angled lenses and perspectives," he said.

"It feels like reality TV - we are in there with the animals."

Each camera costs about 10,000 to develop and build, and Mr Dalton said several were damaged by the programme's over-inquisitive subjects.

But apart from a impromptu swim downstream when it broke away from its fixings, the Salmon-cam survived relatively unscathed.

"Initially the bears gave it a lick and bite," Mr Dalton said.

"But when they realised it was not a real fish and didn't taste of anything, they left it alone."

Bears: Spy in the Woods was broadcast on BBC1 at 2100 GMT on Tuesday.

Points West's Chris Vacher
"Remember the dung cam?


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