Ben Fogle has admittted he’s ‘heartrboken’ over the death of a woman who appeared on his New Lives in the Wirld series after moving to a remote part of Canada to help her husband overcome PTSD.
Julius Strauss, from London, settled in British Columbia in 2005 with his partner Kristin Srauss, where they set up The Wild Bear Lodge, a bear watching business.
The former journalist, who reported for a national broadsheet on the world major conflicts of the 1990s and early 2000s, from the war in Afghanistan to the civil war of Kosovo, had credited the lodge with helping him recover from PTSD.
In 2016, the couple had welcomed TV adventurer Ben to their home, and told him about their fight to stop bear hunting in the Canadian wilderness.
But after last night’s episode, Ben announced that Kristin had sadly passed away aged 43 in February, after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
Heartbroken fans found that Julius was now moving on from his bear watching venture in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia and selling his business after Kristin’s passing.
Fans of Ben Fogler: New Lives in the Wild were saddened to hear that former war correspondent Julius Strauss, from London, was selling his bear watching business in British Columbia after the death of his partner Kristin, who passed away from cancer in February
The news was a sad blow after the episode found the couple happy and thriving, looking forward to expanding their business, following their campaign to protect the wildlife in their region.
A tearful Ben made the announcement at the end of last night’s show, praising Kristin’s legacy.
‘Over the years, the wild folk around the world that have let me into their lives have become an integral part of mine. Friends for ever,’ the presenter said.
Kristin and Julius had successfully campaigned for a grizzly bear ban in British Columbia, which was put in place in 2017, and were looking to the future
‘Six months after visiting Julius and Kristin, the unthinkable happened.
‘Kristin was diagnosed with terminal cancer and just a few weeks later, she lost her life. I’m devastated,’ he added.
‘But she leaves an extraordinary legacy, she was part of that grizzly bear hunting ban.
‘Sending you so much love, Julius. Hold those you love close to you tonight. Goodnight.’
During the show the adventurer had praised the ‘truly extraordinary couple’s’ campaign for a ban on grizzly bear hunting, which had come into fruition in 2017.
‘You’re so inspiring, you’ve motivated me to carry on with some of my campaigns as well,’ he had told them as they parted ways.
Following up with the couple three years after his initial 2016 visit and two years after the ban had been implemented, Ben had found Julius and Kristin as happy as ever and looking to the future.
Unfortunately, heartbroken Julius’s plans were put to a halt after Kristin’s death, and the former war reporter is now selling his wildlife lodge.
During his first visit, Ben had helped Julius and Kristin with the maintenance of the lodge, and learned about their fight to protect wildlife in the region
‘After the tragic loss of Kristin in February, Julius is now looking to move on,’ the Wild Bear Lodge’s website now reads.
‘Wild Bear Lodge will be available for a private sale. If you are interested in creating your own wilderness dream, please send us a note.
‘Julius expects to continue running the lodge until new owners are up and running, and will be available for an extensive handover,’ it added.
The news of Kristin’s death came as a shock to viewers, who had been touched by the couple’s incredible story.
‘Feeling so inspired, yet completely heartbroken, sounds clichéd, but things like this really puts life in perspective,’ one wrote.
ulius, pictured during his days as a war correspondent with Russian soldiers in Chechnya, suffered from PTSD due to the harrowing scenes he witnessed
‘So sorry to hear about Julius in your programme tonight. A truly inspiring couple and she deserved to live a full life, so sad,’ one said.
‘Yes I cried as well. Wasn’t expecting it,’ said another.
‘It was just heartbreaking. Completely floored my wife and I,’ one wrote.
‘Just finished watching New Lives in the Wild and cheered when Julius told Ben Fogle there was now a ban on hunting grizzly bears in British Columbia. To then hear Kristin passed away not long after filming broke my heart. What an amazing legacy she left,’ another said.
Julius previously told Ben about his battle with PTSD, saying: ‘Ten years of war really chews away at your head. Some of my friends were killed, others had drink and drug problems.
Revisiting the couple three years after the initial show, Ben had found Kristin and Julius happy and looking to the future
‘I thought I was OK then one day in Sierra Leone in 2000, I got hit by a horrible dread and sense I was going to die and my balance went. I know now it was what we would call PTSD.’
Julius said he carried on working despite his deteriorating mental health but then one particularly harrowing story he covered caused him to snap.
‘I went to Iraq and Afghanistan trying to manage the PTSD, then in 2004 I covered a horrible incident in Southern Russia where more than 100 children were killed.
‘I was there and I thought this has to be a changing point in my life, I can’t do this anymore,’ he said.
Viewers were devastated to hear about Kristin’s death and sent their support to Julius after the announcement
By this time, he had met and fallen in love with Estonian Kristin, who had been married to a diplomat and was the bureau chief for Reuters News Agency.
The pair decided to give up their high-flying careers to travel across Canada in a camper van.
After coming to British Columbia in 2005 and setting the bear lodge, the couple had quickly discovered the devastating impact of bear hunting on the grizzly bear population in the region.
The couple had to work hard to establish their own business so they could afford to pay the mortgage on their dream home and do up the property where they would live.
Julius trained to be a bear guide and Kristin became a chef so they could offer a unique wilderness experience to tourists who stayed on their ranch.