Book: Death in the Grizzly Maze

Death in the Grizzly Maze

Book: Death in the Grizzly Maze

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Orem, Tina

Death in the Grizzly Maze: The Timothy Treadwell Story
by Mike Lapinski
Guilford, CT
Falcon, 2005
175 pages

This is Superior, Montana resident Mike Lapinksi's take on the life and tragic death of the late "bear whisperer" Timothy Treadwell, who along with friend Amie Huguenard was killed by two grizzlies in Alaska's Katmai National Park on October 5, 2003. Lapinski describes Treadwell as an eccentric whose fame came largely from an oddball personality and videotapes of himself getting within feet of, and in some cases, petting Katmai's grizzlies. Much of the bear biology community vehemently opposed Treadwell's behavior, according to Lapinksi, calling him a reckless bear harasser who was suppressing bears' instinctive fear of humans and indirectly encouraging others to approach bears. Treadwell's claims of living among the bears to protect them from poachers are questioned, and Lapinksi offers evidence that poaching was actually not a real problem in Katmai.

Lapinski, who is not shy about saying Treadwell was a disaster waiting to happen, also attributes Treadwell's struggle with undiagnosed bipolar disorder as a factor in Treadwell's risky behavior, frequent lying, depression, smugness, and feelings of invincibility. He also reprimands Katmai National Park officials for not banning Treadwell from the park despite repeated, known violations of the park's animal-contact rules. A chapter devoted to the superiority of bear spray over guns (noting that the average time between when you see a bear and when it's teeth are in your skull is an incredible 1.9 seconds) ponders whether Treadwell would still be alive if he had carried bear spray, but Lapinski's real question, and the real irony of Treadwell's life, is how Treadwell would have felt knowing he was directly responsible for the deaths of another human and two bears.

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