At the turn of the 20th century, Louisiana's vast natural resources in the form of virgin forests and teeming wildlife were besieged by commercial interests and others lacking environmental mores. In this state of diminishing wilderness, Ben Lilly emerged from the swamps of northeastern Louisiana to become a folk hero. His reputation as the best hunter of his day evolved as a result of his obsessive compulsion to kill bears and cougars. President Theodore Roosevelt hired him as his chief guide during his noted Louisiana bear hunt. Ironically, Lilly's successful efforts in Louisiana and later out West contributed to the loss of a lifestyle that he cherished.