Episode available within Canada only.

When most Canadians think of the prairies, they think of roads stretching for kilometre after kilometre with barely a curve, or symmetrical lines of corn, canola and wheat reaching for the horizon. But, hidden just beyond our country’s croplands, there lies an unknown wilderness where a rich web of life relies on the specific conditions available only in the heartland of the continent.

Today, however, the wild prairie is a shadow of its former self. And temperate grasslands, as a whole, are now considered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to be the most endangered — and least protected — habitat type in the world.

Prior to European settlement, North America’s Great Plains were home to enormous, thundering herds of bison. Wolves and grizzly bears thrived at the top of the diverse food chain in this vast, unobstructed landscape. It truly was, as the region is often called, the Serengeti of North America. 

Though much has been lost, there is still enough wildness that exists in these flatlands to inspire some optimism. And there are people across the Canadian prairies working to help keep them wild.

Volunteers meet in Alberta to replace barbed wire with wildlife-friendly fencing, which allows for safe passage of the ancient pronghorn that never evolved to jump over them. Miles Anderson, a fourth-generation cattle rancher in Saskatchewan, carefully manages his cattle’s grazing to improve habitat for all creatures living on his land, including the critically endangered greater sage-grouse. And thanks to conservationists who reintroduced swift foxes to the grasslands, the once-extinct species now ekes out a living amid the scrubby sagebrush.

Ferrets, foxes and the fringed orchid: Species that suffer when grasslands are threatened
Canada's beautiful prairie grasslands are among the most endangered ecosystems in the world
How to be good neighbours with grizzly bears

While some animals are holding on to their place on the prairies because of the hard work of people, it seems others just need a bit of time and space. Grizzly bears are back in the grasslands for the first time in over a century. And as seen in Grasslands, life on the prairie is pretty good for bears!

From producer Jeff Turner (The Wild Canadian Year, Nature’s Great Events, Frozen Planet), this film is an evocative exploration of a surprising landscape. Featuring never-before-filmed animal behaviour, the documentary takes audiences beyond the corn, canola and wheat fields, and into a hidden wilderness.


Credits (Click to expand)

Produced by

Jeff Turner

Written and Directed by

Alex Burr and Jeff Turner


Erin Cumming


Samuel Ellis

Derek Frankowski

Matthew Hood

Darren West

Original Music

Robert Neufeld


Alex Burr

Assistant Producer

Chelsea Turner

Line Producer

Lynn Fuhr

Production Coordinator

Elina Chidley

Additional Photography

James Frystak

Jon Groves

Justin Maguire

Camera Assistants

Alanna Beaton

Graham Duggan

James Frystak

Shelby Meany

Sound Recordists

Brent Calkin

Justan Ross

Location Consultants

Miles Anderson

Hannah Carey

Jon Groves

Cassie Powell

Carol Savage

Jennifer Waldinger

Paul Jones

Amanda MacDonald

Mike Verhage

Mike Jokinen

TJ Schwanky

Brice Krohn

Dale Gross

Hannah Hilger

Trevor Herriot

Paulette Fox

Dr Nicola Koper

Dr Nancy Mahony

Wildlife Research Division

Science and Technology Branch

Environment and Climate Change Canada

Andrew Butler

Dustin Weatherwax

Dan Carney

Kirk Anderson

Gerry Fauske

Dr Marion Harris

Trina Bradley

Kadence Bradley

Post Production Supervisor

Jacques Russo

Graphic Design

Jeremy Kenning


Lionel Barton

Online Editor

Jacques Russo

Sound Editor

Paul Fisher

Sound Mixer

Ewan Deane

Stock footage provided by

National Film Board of Canada




Financial Consultant

Darren Battersby

Production Accountant

Alison Keyton

Annie Hecimovic

Production Insurance

Front Row Insurance Brokers


Arthur Evensrel

Elyot Waller

Interim Financing

Royal Bank of Canada

Thanks to

Lindsay Rousseau, Royal Bank of Canada

Roberto Monteleone, Royal Bank of Canada

American Prairie Reserve

Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife

Alberta Conservation Association

Alberta Fish and Wildlife

Gilbertson Guest House

Don and Donna Hernberg

Frontier Fire Department

Bryan Swarbrick

Natalie Hassett

Matthew Braun

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Crane Trust

Michael Forsberg

Kristy Bly

Randy Stokke

Travis Livieri

Ed Rodger

John and Kathleen Ross

University of Saskatchewan

Filmed on location and with permission of

Grasslands National Park

American Prairie Reserve

Sheyenne National Grassland

For the CBC

General manager, Programming

Sally Catto

Executive Director, Unscripted Content

Jennifer Dettman

Senior Director, Documentary

Sandra Kleinfeld

Senior Director of Production, Unscripted Content

Alexandra Lane

Executive in Charge of Production

Sue Dando

The Nature of Things

with David Suzuki

Produced by

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation


The Wild Canadian Year

Wild Canadian Year

Visit our website to watch the series online, discover extra behind-the-scenes stories and view Canada's nature scenes in 360. Visit Wild Canadian Year

From CBC Kids

The Nature of Thingies