North-east tourist bosses said yesterday they were all geared up to deal with inquiries from big-game hunters after an advert featuring a brown bear on the banks of the Dee was screened.
John West Foods chose a Deeside location to film their Christmas advertising campaign because it looked like Alaska.
The commercial, which appeared on TV for the first time on Monday, features a bear taking a salmon from the river before a man wrestles the fish away from it.
Speaking yesterday, Aberdeen and Grampian Tourist Board PR manager Beverley Tricker said they would do their utmost to ensure visitors to the area had a good stay - but they couldn't guarantee bears.
A film crew shot the advert on Invercauld Estate, near Balmoral, earlier this month with frozen salmon and an actor in a bear costume supplied by the makers of The Muppet Show - the Henson Corporation.
Speaking as filming finished, John West spokeswoman Louise Stone said: "Deeside was chosen because the action was supposed to be taking place in the Alaskan wilderness. Without actually going to Alaska, Deeside was the best match we could come up with at this time of year."
Beverley Tricker added: "Fishing permits on stretches of the Dee are pretty exclusive but I don't know whether or not the bear in question had one. I'm sure that one of the area's most famous tourists, Queen Victoria, would have been amused at the thought of a brown bear on her doorstep."
The 10 and 30-second ads will run until Christmas.
The appearance of a brown bear on Deeside was unusual as the species have been extinct in Britain for more than 1,000 years.
They are also in decline throughout most of Europe and also in many of the 38 states in America where they are found.
Their main habitat is mixed woodland usually on mountain sides.
Scottish Natural Heritage, which hopes to reintroduce the European beaver to the west coast of Scotland after it was hunted to extinction 400 years ago, said there were no plans to re-establish brown bears to Scotland.
SNH spokesman David McLavin said: "People often talk about the reintroduction of other species such as bears and wolves, and while it's feasible you have to ask whether it's desirable.
"I don't think the fishing fraternity would welcome it as a competitor for the salmon stocks in our rivers either."
© Press & Journal, November 22 nd 2000
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