Wednesday, October 08, 2003


A grizzly end for man who liked to tell bears 'I love you'

A bear-lover who would creep up to grizzlies in the wild chanting "I love you" to prove that they posed no danger has been killed by them.

What remained of Timothy Treadwell, 46 - author, filmmaker and celebrity for his unorthodox views on the animals - was recovered from the Katmai National Park in Alaska this week. His bear attacker had buried part of him in a so-called food cache.

Bear Kills Bear Expert, Companion in Alaska

Treadwell was known for his confidence around bears. He often touched them, and gave them names. Once he was filmed crawling along the ground singing as he approached a sow and two cubs.

Over the years, Park Service officials, biologists and others expressed concern about his safety and the message he was sending.

"At best he's misguided," Deb Liggett, superintendent at Katmai, told the Anchorage Daily News in 2001. "At worst he's dangerous. If Timothy models unsafe behavior, that ultimately puts bears and other visitors at risk."

Wildlife author killed, eaten by bears he loved

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.' ''