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Tempting Fate and Nature in the World of the Grizzly

October 10, 2003

Re "Bears Kill Pair Who Lived Among Them," Oct. 8: The story of Timothy Treadwell's and his friend's deaths in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska was a tragedy for all concerned, including park bears. I served as superintendent of Katmai from 1987 through 1990 and am familiar with the location and circumstances of the event. Treadwell knowingly violated basic rules of respecting and observing wildlife in the park. He placed his camp near a bear feeding site and kept it in place for a long period, resulting in the accumulation of food odors. Katmai bears in the fall are driven by a need to put on as much bulk as possible before entering their winter dens. He apparently believed that he was somehow exempt from possible hostile reactions from the bears and frequently got close to them.

This is not only personally foolish, it also habituates the bears to reducing their natural tendency to avoid close human contact. Treadwell may have convinced himself and others that he was a modern version of "Grizzly Adams," but he ultimately caused the death of himself, his friend and two park bears, plus possibly endangering other people and bears through his actions.

G. Ray Bane

Kula, Hawaii

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I am appalled at the poor judgment of the park rangers and state troopers in their killing of two bears while they were recovering the remains of Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard. If these supposed professionals are incapable of better management of wild animals, they shouldn't be allowed out in the wild with guns. There was clearly no imminent danger to human beings beyond that caused by the actions of the people who killed these bears. Any "immediate threat" to their lives was of their own creation. Furthermore, the death of these animals compounds the tragedy of the human deaths. One suspects that Treadwell would have preferred his remains being left where they were rather than a recovery attempt resulting in the death of two of these magnificent animals he loved.

Daniel Maskit

Marina del Rey

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The story behind the fatal mauling of "adventurer" Treadwell and Huguenard by Alaskan grizzly bears is another sad consequence of the self-serving "I've got to be me" attitude still hanging around from the late '60s. Treadwell's selfishness and lack of genuine respect for wildlife resulted in his death, the death of his girlfriend, a grave risk to the rangers who had to retrieve their remains and the shooting of two of the beloved grizzlies that Treadwell credited with giving purpose to his -- and only his -- life.

Jane Garcia

Los Angeles

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