Malibu naturalist dies from grizzly attack

Timothy Treadwell, whose dedication to animals was well known in the community, was killed in a bear attack, along with Malibu resident Amie Huguenard.

By Cortney Litwin/Staff Writer

Wildlife advocate Timothy Treadwell of Las Flores Beach in Malibu was fatally mauled by a bear at the Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska on Monday, said Bruce Bartley, spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Accompanying Treadwell, 46, was Malibu resident Amie Huguenard, 37, who was also killed in the bear attack. The pair was photographing grizzlies in a remote area of the park.

Treadwell is the co-author of “Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska” and has made several documentaries for the Discovery Channel.

The two were planning to travel to Kodiak. After arriving to pick them up, a pilot from Andrew Airways saw a brown bear on top of a body at their campsite near Kaflia Bay. The bear was a large male and appeared to be quite old-and aggressive.

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“The pilot had gone in to investigate and was forced to retreat back to his plane,” Bartley said. “He tried to scare it away and that didn’t work.”

The pilot called Park Service rangers and state troopers for help. When the rangers arrived, the bear charged them and they shot and killed it, Bartley said. Then, as they were collecting the victims’ bodies, “a third bear, a younger one, showed up. It was curious-what

they perceived to be aggressive-and they shot it, too,” Bartley said, adding that there are numerous trails used by bears in the area.

These are the only known bear killings in the 4.7 million-acre park. “Predatory attacks are extremely rare,” Bartley said.

Treadwell’s passion for protecting wildlife prompted him to travel to remote areas of Alaska every spring until autumn, where he would photograph wild animals -mainly grizzly bears-in their natural habitat. Afterward, he would share his observations with the public, including more than 10,000 children, in lectures at schools, universities and clubs. On several occasions he appeared on the “Late Show with David Letterman.” Many celebrities, including locals Pierce Brosnan and Leonardo DiCaprio, supported his efforts.

Malibu residents Peter and Sarah Dixon created “In the Land of the Grizzlies,” a documentary for the National Audubon Society in 1995 with Treadwell.

In an e-mail sent from New Zealand Tuesday night, the Dixons said, “Timothy was a very special human being, intelligent, caring, selfless in his mission to further explain to the world the place of bears in nature.”

Treadwell’s commitment to wildlife coincided with his recovery from drug and alcohol addition many years ago. He had confided in his best friend that he wanted to go “very far away,” if he recovered, and “live among the wild animals. I will not rest until the last grizzly bear is free from the harm of man,” he said.

Writer David Wallace, who last interviewed Treadwell for The Malibu Times in June, and became friends with the naturalist, received a letter dated July 11. “He called me as he was leaving, and said, ‘I’ll see you sometime in October, if I don’t die up there,'” Wallace said. “I, probably like everyone else, sort of wrote that off as self-dramatizing, as he was prone to do.”

In his letter, Treadwell talked about the dangers he faced every day with his work. He said he was going into “the wild and the dangerous grizzly maze.”

“Timothy was ever aware of the danger, and that his life could end there in the Alaskan wilderness,” the Dixons wrote in their e-mail. “Each time he left for his sojourn among the grizzlies, he repeated the mantra that if ever he was killed by a bear, it would be his fault, not the bear’s, and the bear should not be killed.”

Timothy would find it tragic and ironic that two bears were shot in an area where special permits are required, and tourists are not allowed.”

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