Canadian author and photographer Charlie Russell, "an Alberta naturalist who spent decades trying to teach people to live with bears rather than fearing them," died May 7, the Globe & Mail reported. He was 76. Son of the renowned conservationist Andy Russell, he "grew up to be rancher--until 1960, when his father took him and his brother to help shoot a documentary on bears."
"The bears of the world have lost their best friend," said Gord Russell, his brother.
Expressing deep sadness at news of Russell's passing, House of Anansi Press editor Douglas Richmond recalled: "Last year, I was lucky enough to work with Charlie on the reissue of his 1994 classic, Spirit Bear: Encounters with the White Bear of the Western Rainforest. As we revisited Charlie's incredible photographs and stories of his visits to British Columbia's Princess Royal Island, where he observed the illusive Kermode bear (often known as the white, ghost, or spirit bear), I was struck by his deep compassion and concern for the well-being of all living things. Charlie believed that we could live in peace and harmony with bears, and spoke often of his desire to convey this message to the world. In the afterword to the new edition of Spirit Bear, he wrote, 'The problem isn't bears, it is us. And knowing this, we can change and once again live well in peace and respect with our ursine kin.' Charlie passed away in hospital on Monday. He will be missed."
Russell's books include Grizzly Heart: Living Without Fear Among the Brown Bears of Kamchatka; Grizzly Seasons; and Learning to Be Wild: Raising Orphan Grizzlies.