1. Headline
  1. Headline
updated 5/19/2009 8:57:38 PM ET 2009-05-20T00:57:38

A man featured in a recent Animal Planet series about his life among wild grizzly and black bears at his Alaska cabin has been charged with illegally feeding them dog food and cookies.

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

Charles E. Vandergaw’s close association with bears previously concerned wildlife authorities, and citations have been issued. Game officials consider feeding bears a danger to humans, especially if others duplicate the behavior.

The 20 misdemeanor counts filed Friday in Palmer against Vandergaw, 70, allege he illegally fed bears from May through September 2008 at the camp he calls “Bear Haven.” The property owned by the retired Anchorage teacher and wrestling coach is about 40 miles north of the city.

Animal Planet’s six-part series “Stranger Among Bears,” which aired in April and early May, focused on the 20 years he has lived at the isolated cabin and interacted with the bears.

“The satiated bears succumb to Charlie’s affections, often taking walks with him, allowing him to pet them and even sit astride them,” according to the Animal Planet Web site. A message left with a show spokeswoman late Tuesday was not immediately returned.

According to information filed with the charges, Alaska State Troopers executed a search warrant at the property Sept. 26, and Vandergaw acknowledged to the investigators that he had been feeding bears for 20 years but said he could not immediately stop.

A call left with Vandergaw’s attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday.

According to prosecutors, Vandergaw initially obtained a bear baiting permit to justify possession of the dog food but didn’t put the food at the appropriate distance from his cabin.

Troopers found 1,040 pounds of dog food on the property but no dogs. Prosecutors also filed related charges against a Vandergaw associate and a licensed big game guide, who prosecutors say also bought dog food and flew it to the cabin.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Courtesy of Kristine Wach VanOrd

    22 photos that show the joy of adoption

    11/24/2014 1:30:35 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T13:30:35
  1. Save these sites and apps for the best Cyber Monday deals

    Looking for the best deals on Cyber Monday? Retailers keep most of their plans super secret but savvy shoppers can still plan ahead by lining up all their links and getting their bookmarks ready.

    11/24/2014 4:07:42 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T16:07:42
  1. Maya Evoy; We Are Not Martha

    5 ways to reinvent cranberries for Thanksgiving

    11/24/2014 8:00:35 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T20:00:35
  1. Rachel Currier; Rachel Gurk; Nic

    You won't believe these delicious Thanksgving sides are gluten-free

    11/24/2014 4:59:22 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T16:59:22
  1. TODAY; AP

    Ex-NBC employee says he sent money to women for Bill Cosby

    11/24/2014 2:38:06 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T14:38:06