Face to face with Bart the Bear
Imagine looking directly into the open mouth of a 2,500 pound growling grizzly bear and not being scared in the least.
Well, it’s a possibility without being a daredevil since a new life-size carving of a famous grizzly bear is all growl and no bite.
Owner of Knight Inlet Resort Dean Wyatt commissioned local chainsaw carver Glenn Greensides to create Bart the Bear in the likeness of famous bear actor, Bart, who passed away in 2000.
“When I met Glenn I was blown away at his level of detail and I’ve always wanted to do a ‘Bart,’” explained Wyatt, whose resort features grizzly bear tours at Knight Inlet.
At just under 11 feet tall and weighing about 2,500 pounds, the wooden bear is a bit bigger than the real Bart was, as he was about nine and a half feet tall and weighed about 1,500 pounds.
Greensides said the carving took him 16 days in total. Starting with a 4300 pound chunk of red cedar, he carved the bear using a chainsaw, including the fur, then used smaller tools like die grinders to complete the smaller details like the teeth.
He said the head was the hardest part, and took about three and a half days to complete.
He built Bart the Bear while staying at the resort and said at first he was a little worried about bothering resort guests with the noise of his chainsaw, but it all worked out in the end.
“The last thing (guests are) going to want to hear is a chainsaw, but it’s amazing how it coordinated so that when they went on their excursions, their two hour excursions, it allowed me enough time to do my work,” said Greensides. “Then I would run quieter tools and that when they would come so they could at least see something happening.”
Although Wyatt said Bart the Bear certainly looks great at the resort, he doesn’t expect him to stay there, as he hopes an organization close to his heart will use the bear as an auction item to raise money to protect grizzly bears.
Wyatt is friends with the famous bear actor’s trainer, Doug Sous, who founded a non-profit land trust, called Vital Ground, that works to protect grizzly bear habitat in the United States.
Doug “wanted to do something to give back to the bears, so he formed this non-profit and they started buying land, and now they control hundreds of thousands of acres for grizzly bear habitat,” said Wyatt.
Wyatt also hosts a group of Vital Ground donors at his resort each year in an effort to raise funds for the organization.
“I give it to them (Vital Ground) for really, really cheap and they sell it to them (donors) for really, really expensive and they get all the money,” said Wyatt. “When they have big groups, and they’ve had groups of over 20, they can raise sixty, seventy thousand dollars just by having the people come to the lodge.”
Bart was an Alaskan Kodiak bear who was trained by Sous in Utah since he was a cub. He was in many well known movies, including Legends of the Fall, The Bear and The Edge, and he even appeared at the 1998 Academy Awards.
Bart died of cancer at the age of 23, which Wyatt said is young for a bear and was very hard for Sous to take, especially since Bart was the first bear Sous trained and was part of the Sous family.
“He developed a form of cancer in his bones… yeah it was very sudden, it was very tough for Doug,” explained Wyatt.
“When Bart arrived (to the Sous’), their daughter arrived home from the hospital at the same time, being born. And their first year they grew up in the crib together, the bear would sleep with the baby.
“The problem is when they get to be a year old the cub’s a lot bigger than the kid is,” Wyatt said with a laugh, when he explained that the bear literally did sleep in the crib with the baby until he grew too big. He said he expects Sous will come out to the resort and see the carving in the spring.
Wyatt is so impressed with how the carving of Bart the Bear turned out, he plans to commission Greensides to create some mini Bart the Bears, as well as a life-size eagle in the future.