How many times do people need to be reminded that life is not a Disney movie?
In those family-friendly films, people don't end up in the digestive tract of the warm and fuzzy wildlife that seem so cuddly you almost want to name them and take them home where they can sleep on the sofa.
Park officials have a standing safety policy stating that visitors must maintain a separation distance of at least a quarter-mile from the bears. But evidence from photographs recovered in his camera show that White was within 50 yards of the bear when the attack took place.
White's body was discovered after some hikers came across an abandoned backpack and bloody clothing alongside a river. They notified park rangers who conducted a helicopter search and located the body at a grizzly "food cache" about 150 yards from the scene of the attack. The bear was sitting on top of White's remains.
Park superintendent Paul Anderson said, "Over the years, and especially since the 1970s, the park has worked very diligently to minimize the conflict between humans and wildlife in the park. We have some of the most stringent human-wildlife conflict regulations in the National Park system, and I think those are largely responsible for the fact that there hasn't been a fatal attack."
Did I mention that Richard White made history by being the first human fatality caused by bear attack in Denali National Park? Of course, outside the park there have been numerous lethal encounters with bears. That's because people get too close to these epic predators.
Prior to being issued a permit to hike in Denali, all backpackers receive mandatory bear awareness training that teaches them to stay at least a quarter-mile away from bears. Records show that Richard White received that training, but apparently decided to ignore it.
Maybe he didn't see the movie "Grizzly Man" about Timothy Treadwell who thought he could make friends with the bears if he just acted docile and pretended to be part of their community. Oh … in case you didn't see the movie, it ended badly. Grizzly man and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard ended up in the digestive tract of the bear. For the record, Treadwell had been warned repeatedly by park officials (Katmai National Park) that his actions were unsafe.
Deb Liggett, superintendent at Katmai National Park told the Anchorage Daily News, "At best, he's midguided. At worst, he's dangerous. If Timothy models unsafe behavior, that ultimately puts bears and other visitors at risk."
It's easy to understand how a bad example endangers others who might think that kind of behavior is okay. But, how does it put the bears at risk? Simple — the "offending" bears are killed.
What can we learn from this?
Cripes, I hope I don't have to spell it out yet again.