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Hundreds Honor Bear Attack Victim At Kalispell Funeral

Several hundred friends, family and Forest Service personnel attended the funeral of a man killed after surprising a bear on June 29.
Nicky Ouellet
Several hundred friends, family and Forest Service personnel attended the funeral of a man killed after surprising a bear on June 29.

In front of several hundred friends, family and Forest Service personnel seated along the homestretch of the running track at Legion's Field in Kalispell, Brad Treat’s memory was honored Thursday morning.

Treat, a career law enforcement officer with the Flathead National Forest, was killed last week after colliding with a bear while mountain biking outside Glacier National Park.

"Today is a day about celebrating the life of a man who over the course of 38 years touched personally and inspired and enriched the lives of several thousand."

Kyle Johnson is a ranger for Glacier National Park and Treat’s uncle. Speaking from a podium flanked by 200 Forest Service employees in their khaki and green uniforms, many wearing black armbands, Johnson and others painted a picture of man beloved by his fellow officers for his compassion, calm confidence and his willingness to always go the extra mile.

"Brad was superman to many of us, though he would never admit it, but he could usually prove it in many ways over the course of the day."

The service Thursday was the result of a tragic chance encounter. Treat was mountain biking with a friend on June 29 when the pair surprised a bear along the trail in the Halfmoon Lake area. The friend was able to escape to get help, but the attack on Treat was fatal. This is the seventh fatal bear attack in the Northern Rockies since 2010.

Investigators were hoping to quickly to catch the bear after the attack, but have since removed cameras and traps placed in the area. They are still awaiting results from a DNA test to determine the species, despite early reports that it was a grizzly.

Treat grew up in the Flathead Valley, where he became a long distance running phenom while attending Flathead High School. He led the Braves to two track championships in the mid-1990s before joining the cross country team at Washington State University, and later the University of Montana.

Treat’s high school coach, Paul Jorgensen, remembers Treat as a leader both on the course and off.

"While many leave their mark by being great runners, others leave their mark by being great human beings. Brad did both."

Jorgensen shared a story he’s told a lot recently, about Treat winning the cross-country meet at the Missoula Invitational.

"Instead of walking off the win he turned around and congratulated every kid that came after him. I thought that was a great thing. That tells you a lot about who Brad Treat is."

Treat joined the Forest Service in 2004, where he worked alongside Robert Field, who is now patrol captain for the Pacific Northwest Region.

Field remembers Treat as much for his leadership and integrity as his steely nerve and physical tenacity. He described Treat as fearless on a snowmobile.

"I remember many occasions sitting on top of a ridgetop, looking down, can't see the bottom. Brad would turn around and look at you, and he always had a saying, Don't be a …, and away he went. And you would sit up there on top of the ridge and look, and you had no choice but to go."

In honor of his 12 years stationed at the Hungry Horse Ranger District in the Flathead National Forest, the road leading to the office will be renamed the Brad Treat Memorial Road. Treat’s radio call number, 44, was also retired at the ceremony.

[Radio call]: This is the last call for FS 44 Brad Treat. End of watch, June 29, 2016. Gone but not forgotten, rest in peace my friend. We have the watch from here.

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