Grizzly Bear kills animal trainer in Big Bear City

Big Bear Lake, Calif. The bear is seen in the recent Will Ferrell movie "Semi-Pro," according to the facility's Web site. Three experienced handlers were working with the bear at Randy Miller's Predators in Action when the bear bit Stephan Miller, 39, of Canyon Country, on the neck, said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers. Stephan Miller is Randy's cousin, she said.

The center's staff used pepper spray to subdue and contain the bear and there were no other injuries, Beavers said. A county Fire Department traumatic injury response unit responded about 3 p.m., but could not revive the man. Sheriff's Sgt. Dave Phelps said the bear was a 5-year-old male named Rocky. The Predators in Action Web site says Rocky is 71/2 feet tall, weighs 700 pounds and appeared in a scene in "Semi-Pro" in which Ferrell's character wrestles a bear to promote his basketball team.

Calls seeking comment from Miller, a stuntman and operator of Predators in Action, were not immediately returned Tuesday evening. Miller doubled for Ferrell in the bear wrestling match, according to the center's site. The center, located in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles, says it has two grizzlies, and also trains lions, tigers, leopards, cougars and wolves for uses ranging from film and TV to advertising and education. Randy Miller has 25 years of experience training animals and his facility has had a perfect safety record, according to the site. It was not immediately known how long Rocky has been at the facility.

Randy Miller won a World Stunt Academy Award for his work wrestling tigers in the 2000 blockbuster "Gladiator" and performed stunts with his animals in films like "The Postman," "The Island of Dr. Moreau," and "The Last Samurai." He also helped recreate animal attacks for National Geographic documentaries and the Discovery Channel. It wasn't immediately clear what would happen to the bear. Denise Richards, who works with wild animals at Moonridge Zoo, a sanctuary for injured and homeless wildlife in nearby Big Bear Lake, said trained animals that turn on their handlers are often destroyed.

"You can train them and use as many safety precautions as you can, but you're still taking a chance if you're putting yourself in contact with them," Richards said. "It's still a wild animal. Even though it may appear that the bear attacked for no reason, there was a reason. I'm sure Randy understands why it happened. They're not cold-blooded killers."

Native grizzly bears are extinct in California.

Predators in Action, Inc.

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