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Humans and bears.

Three recent incidents involving humans and bears underscore the crucial importance of being armed when facing enraged wild animals. The first incident ended in tragedy because the humans were unarmed.

Lethal encounter: In early October, Timothy Treadmill and girlfriend Amie Huguenard, both of Malibu, California, were videotaping bears in the Katmai National Park and Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula when a large brown bear attacked Treadmill. He had spent more than a dozen summers living with and taping Katmai bears without incident. During an appearance on CBS' Late Show with David Letterman in 2001, he described them as mostly harmless "party animals," asserting that he felt safer living among them than jogging through New York's Central Park. He would not carry weapons.

A video camera operated by Huguenard was running during the attack, but she apparently dropped it during her futile attempts to help Treadmill. Though the video does not show the deadly clash, the camera did pick up about six minutes of audio. The Associated Press reported on October 8 that the graphic sounds revealed the unarmed "wildlife author's final, frantic screams as he tried to fend off the beast."

Treadmill was killed and Huguenard was later mauled to death by a bear, though it is not clear if it was the same one that turned on Treadmill. On October 6, their bodies were found when an air-taxi pilot arrived to pick up the couple. A bear was reportedly sitting atop human remains.

When park rangers arrived at the camp, they encountered a large, aggressive brown bear, thought to be the one that killed Treadmill and, possibly, Huguenard. As two of his fellow officers stood by with shotguns, Katmai park ranger Joel Ellis fired 11 shots from his handgun, killing the beast. Later, while loading their plane, another aggressive bear began stalking the rangers, who were compelled to shoot it as well.

Stalking bear: Dr. Roger Brown is a plastic surgeon in Kalispell, Montana. On October 3, after scouting for mountain goats in the Swan Mountains near Kalispell in preparation for a hunt with his son and grandson, he encountered a grizzly on his way back to camp. Fortunately, unlike Timothy Treadmill and Amie Huguenard, he was armed.

According to the written account Dr. Brown prepared for game wardens, he tried to slowly back away, but the bear continued to approach, then stopped, then approached again. After 20 minutes of this aggressive stalking behavior, the grizzly charged. Brown fired a shot that apparently struck the creature, which turned and ran away.

Brown returned to his camp. The next morning, he returned to the scene of the encounter and tracked a trail of blood for about half-a-mile before concluding that the bear had probably survived and traveled much farther.

On October 7, at the end of the mountain goat hunt, Brown hiked out of the area and reported the bear incident to game wardens. Ed Kelly, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks warden captain in Kalispell, told the October 15 Kalispell Daily Inter Lake that it was "a justified shooting. There is no doubt about it." Grizzlies are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, but may be killed in self-defense.

Lucky shot: Finally, when James Beeman of Fortine, Montana, heard a loud commotion in the chicken coop near his home at about 4 a.m. on October 12, he picked up a .410-gauge shotgun and investigated. He expected to find a skunk. Instead, two small bear cubs darted from the coop's damaged door, followed by a 350-pound adult female grizzly with a chicken in its mouth.

As described by the Daily Inter Lake in the article cited above, "the bear dropped the chicken and charged from 15 feet. Beeman fired, with the muzzle of the gun roughly three feet from the bear, which crumpled to the ground, dead at Beeman's feet."

The .410 is a relatively light gun, and the shell Beeman fired carried a load typically used for quail. Under most circumstances, it would hardly have fazed an angry bear. In this instance, however, the pellets struck the animal squarely in the nose, the only vulnerable part of its skull. The pellets apparently traversed the nasal cavity into the brain. Warden Ed Kelly was amazed that the single shot killed the bear, saving Beeman from serious injury or worse. "I know guys with .375s [rifles for medium to large game] who couldn't have made a kill like that," he told the Daily Inter Lake. "He's just a lucky, lucky guy."
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Title Annotation:Exercising The Right
Author:Lee, Robert W.
Publication:The New American
Date:Dec 1, 2003
Previous Article:Robbery foiled.
Next Article:After hours.

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