That first night, one of the documentaries he will introduce is called “Mystery Bear of the Arctic.” It’s about an American sport hunter who, in 2006, went to a remote Canadian island to hunt polar bear — and shot and killed what he believed to be a polar bear. Only it turns out that it was not necessarily a polar bear, which, NatGeo noted, unleashed an investigation by the Canadian authorities. The hunter came under threat of prosecution for a crime he said he did not commit.
According to an NBC News report of the incident, the hunter had paid $50,000 for a guide and a permit to hunt polar bear but found himself faced with the possibility of a $1,000 fine and as much as a year in jail for shooting a non-polar bear, “as well as the disappointment of an expensive hunting trip with no trophy.”
SPOILER ALERT: Tests on the dead bear came back showing it to have been the love child of a polar bear and a grizzly bear. The hunter was not fined, because he’d made a good-faith effort to kill a polar bear. The hunter even got back his dead bear from the local natural resources department — avoiding the disappointment of an expensive hunting trip with no trophy to show for it.
Scientists were thrilled, because the dead bear was believed to have been the first such polar/grizzly hybrid documented in the wild (polar bears and grizzlies apparently had been successfully paired in zoos before), and they all lived happily ever after — except the bear, of course.
Contacted for comment, a PETA rep told the TV Column: “Alec is known for getting his views across very clearly, and sometimes in surprising ways.” The spokesman pointed the column to a 2012 episode of “30 Rock.” At that time, Baldwin wrote to friends of PETA that he agreed to appear in a scene featuring a horse-drawn carriage in New York City only if his Jack Dohaghy character described such carriages as “rolling torture wagons for nature’s most dignified creature.”
“The description of the [NatGeo] bear episode is very vague, we can’t comment on it until we’ve seen it,” the PETA rep concluded.
The TV Column wondered Baldwin was aware of the big-game hunting docu in the series, and whether he planned to put his views on that subject across in his intro that night.
Called for comment, Baldwin told The TV Column that the determination of which documentaries were included in the series was up to NatGeo.
He said he was assured that the hunt in this particular docu was a legal hunt. He explained that he is opposed to sport hunting, but that he believes “you will never be able to illegalize these things. . . .All I can do is try to influence behavior.”