From the Anchorage Daily News:
A California author and filmmaker who became famous for trekking to Alaska's remote Katmai coast to commune with brown bears has fallen victim to the teeth and claws of the wild animals he loved.
Alaska State Troopers and National Park Service officials said Timothy Treadwell, 46, and girlfriend Amie Huguenard, 37, were killed and partially eaten by a bear or bears near Kaflia Bay, about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage, earlier this week.
Scientists who study Alaska brown bears said they had been warning Treadwell for years that he needed to be more careful around the huge and powerful coastal twin of the grizzly.
Treadwell's films of close-up encounters with giant bears brought him a bounty of national media attention. The fearless former drug addict from Malibu, Calif. -- who routinely eased up close to bears to chant "I love you'' in a high-pitched, sing-song voice -- was the subject of a show on the Discovery Channel and a report on "Dateline NBC." Blond, good-looking and charismatic, he appeared for interviews on David Letterman's show and "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" to talk about his bears. He even gave them names: Booble, Aunt Melissa, Mr. Chocolate, Freckles and Molly, among others.
A self-proclaimed eco-warrior, he attracted something of a cult following too. Chuck Bartlebaugh of "Be Bear Aware,'' a national bear awareness campaign, called Treadwell one of the leaders of a group of people engaged in "a trend to promote getting close to bears to show they were not dangerous.
"He kept insisting that he wanted to show that bears in thick brush aren't dangerous. The last two people killed (by bears) in Glacier National Park went off the trail into the brush. They said their goal was to find a grizzly bear so they could 'do a Timothy.' We have a trail of dead people and dead bears because of this trend that says, 'Let's show it's not dangerous.' ''
But even Treadwell knew that getting close with brown bears in thick cover was indeed dangerous. In his 1997 book "Among Grizzlies,'' he wrote of a chilling encounter with a bear in the alder thickets that surround Kaflia Lake along the outer coast of Katmai National Park and Preserve.
"This was Demon, who some experts label the '25th Grizzly,' the one that tolerates no man or bear, the one that kills without bias,'' Treadwell wrote. "I had thought Demon was going to kill me in the Grizzly Maze.''
Treadwell survived and kept coming back to the area. He would spend three to four months a summer along the Katmai coast, filming, watching and talking to the bears.
"I met him during the summer of '98 at Hallo Bay,'' said Stephen Stringham, a professor with the University of Alaska system. "At first, having read his book, I thought he was fairly foolhardy ... (but) he was more careful than the book portrayed.
"He wasn't naive. He knew there was danger."
Despite that, Treadwell refused to carry firearms or ring his campsites with an electric fence as do bear researchers in the area. And he stopped carrying bear spray for self-protection in recent years. Friends said he thought he knew the bears so well he didn't need it.
U.S. Geological Survey bear researcher Tom Smith; Sterling Miller, formerly the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's top bear authority; and others said they tried to warn the amateur naturalist that he was being far too cavalier around North America's largest and most powerful predator.
"He's the only one I've consistently had concern for,'' Smith said. "He had kind of a childlike attitude about him.''
"I told him to be much more cautious ... because every time a bear kills somebody, there is a big increase in bearanoia and bears get killed,'' Miller said. "I thought that would be a way of getting to him, and his response was 'I would be honored to end up in bear scat.' ''
As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for -- it just might come true.
I remember seeing this guy and his girlfriend interviewed a few months ago. To put it mildly, they were both loons. They claimed that the bears communicated telepathically and were guiding them to some mysterious destination.
As they were. It's called "lunch."
I was reminded, too, of an incident in one of the National parks -- either Jasper or Banff -- a couple of years ago. A brown bear got into an authorized camping spot and mauled some tourists, fortunately not fatally. The rangers closed off the hiking trails and started to hunt it down.
This brought out the animal-rights clowns in force. Two of them, interviewed before they went skipping away down one of the closed trails, averred that, if they came across the bear, they'd "conquer it with love."
Unfortunately, the rangers found it first.