Bear "expert" killed in Katmai

Discussion in 'Nature' started by bobatkins, Oct 7, 2003.

  1. From the Anchorage Daily News:
    "The bodies of Timothy Treadwell, 46, and Amie Huguenard, 37, both of Malibu, Calif., were found near Kaflia Bay on Monday when a pilot with Andrew Airways arrived to pick them up and take them to Kodiak, Alaska State Troopers said. The park is on the Alaska Peninsula.
    Treadwell, co-author of "Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska," spent more than a dozen summers living alone with Katmai bears, and videotaping them. Information on Huguenard was not immediately available."

    See for more details.
  2. Like Roy Horn,Treadwell assumed he knew animal behavior completely.Any one that claims to fully understand this is wishfully thinking.
  3. Michio Hoshino, the photographer and author, inter alia, of _Grizzly_ who was killed by a bear in Siberia a few years ago, lived just down the road from us (most summers we have carloads of Japanese visitors looking for his widow stop at our house, which is at a crossroads, to ask directions). It seems to be an occupational hazzard for those who think they understand bears. After several bear encounters on our part, my wife strongly supports 800mm lenses -- preferable with telextenders.
  4. another two dead bears. :(
  5. n m

    n m

    Rather than roll the dice on another drug overdose, Treadwell rolled the dice with bears instead. Neither activity shows his brain in a good light. I suppose we have to hope his addled activities do not affect the future of the park or the bears.
  6. The most rapacious and savage predator on earth is man.
  7. It's always interesting when people get too confident around animals, especially wild animals. Even pets like my super-tame African Grey, who I handfed as a baby, can and *will* revert back to their instinctive, wild nature when necessary.

    I've been bitten visciously in the past and every single time it was because I did not understand the bird's body language. They gave me plenty of warning, which I now, after nearly 10 years of *living with* (not visiting once a year on vacation), am just starting to understand.

    I also know of other parrot owners who have been bitten once and banished their bird to a cage for the rest of its 60-70 years. This breaks my heart and I want to scream about it, but the best I can do is try to help educate other parrot owners by sharing my experiences.

    Remember, there are two dead men, and two dead bears. The men have paid their price. Maybe those experts who are calling the dead names and bringing into light how foolish these men may have been, can do something constructive by sharing their own expertise to help us learn from their experiences.
  8. Kinda like the crocodile hunter being eaten by a crocodile. This undoes all the work he did to try and show how these animals are not viscious monsters. I do agree with the other posters that these are wild animals. We as humans with thought and reason are at fault here. The animals are just acting on instinct. We should not take a docil animal for granted, if he smells food or feels threatened its you who is going to pay the price.
  9. I have to correct myself. I thought the article said "Arnie" and I assumed it was two "men." My eyes are getting old :)
  10. How long before the next TV special where the experts chum the water and swim with the Great Whites?
  11. "I would be honored to end up in bear scat." - Timothy Treadwell

    Nobody has a true right to seek or directly put themselves in high risk of receiving that very dubious honor. A nature photographer's first responsibility is the respect and protection of nature itself.
  12. Hey, let's ease up on Treadwell, he's dead. Maybe it was his fault and maybe it
    wasn't. I did not know him or how he acted around bears but I know that we are
    sometimes too quick to judge others actions without full disclosure. I have been
    around bears alot and always respect their wildness but a rogue bear could in an
    instant have had me for lunch. If this ever happens, please understand that I was
    being cautious and probably just unlucky. I always measure the distance from a bear
    in time. How long it would take the bear to get to me. Even with an 800mm lens, it
    would be seconds!

    I just finished "The Blue Bear" by Lynn Schooler about the authors relationship with
    Michio Hoshino. A great book for all photographers to read expecially if you knew
    Michio or ever photographed in Alaska.

  13. From what I have read, Treadwell performed some rather dangerous and foolish feats. Roy Horn on the other hand, to my knowledge, has never been credited with any foolish acts wrt his tigers. From the articles that I have read, alot of people are not all that surprised about Treadwell's demise. On the other hand, people are quite shocked at the SUDDEN aggressiveness of Horn's white tiger. But hey, this is all based on what I have read in the news...

    It's the same kind of shock that one would expect if Steve Irwin (crocodile hunter) was suddenly devoured by a croc. While he may sensationalize/overdramatize on his show (and most of that is by his narration), I've never seen him do anything but approach the animals with the utmost caution and respect.
  14. Speaking of attacks, did you hear about the guy who got attacked by his "pet" tiger in his NYC apartment. He also had an alligator in the apartment. He supposedly got scared after the attack and fled to a Philadelphi hospital.
  15. I have encountered many bears in Yosemite... they are black bears and less agressive than brown bears (especially grizzly) Of all the bears, only two showed aggression: 1. mama protecting her cubs 2. bear in campgrounds that a guy threw rocks at... the bear was fine until then, just wanted food, but he pissed it off so much it chased him into his camper and tried to tear the door off. I love bears... and do not fear them, but I also don't get too close. This summer, my wife and I came across a young deer in a meadow, then we noticed a young bear standing up behind some brush... basically doing the same thing we were... watching the deer. It was my wife's first real world encounter... her relfex was to run. I told her the bear was far away and just calm down and enjoy the view. It bothers me that people are told to make noise and bang things to scare off bears... this is rediculous... causes people to panic and over-react. I guess they suggest this because most encounters are in a campground and they want to discourage the bears from stealing food, but out on the trails you are better to relax and slowly walk on by... moving in a direction that doesn't bring you closer. If you see cute little cubs, don't be temted to look closer... mama is always near, so leave the area (once again... slowly... don't panic!) Anyway, there is a fine line between admiring bears and trying to interact with them... that "expert" crossed way over that line.
  16. Sorry, but I have more respect for Treadwell than for Siegfried and Boy. At least
    Treadwell reacted with bears on their terms instead of trying to capture them and put
    then on display. No wild (non-domesticated) animal belongs in a cage or on stage,
    etc.. Or should be bred for such purpose.

    The sad part is that the bears were killed. Our reaction to anything that might eat or
    harm us is to kill it.

    Being around bears is one of the greatest highs. Selfish, sure. But I would rather take
    my chances around bears than most people. Bears are unpredictable, just like
    people, they are individuals, just like people, some are good, and some bad, just like
    people. But mostly, they don't want anything to do with people. Hmm, maybe they've
    got something there?

  17. Jeffrey, they tell you to make noise because a lot of the bear attacks occur when bears are surprised.
  18. I saw some clips of this guy on TV tonight. He was crawling around on his hands & knees and getting almost within reach of the bears. I thought the guy was either way over confident, naive, or just a hotdog. It was just a matter of time before one of them nailed him. The really unfortunate thing is he dragged his girlfriend into the mess. I would never, ever put my family into danger like this.

    Kent in SD
  19. To me the most dangerous part of this type of life/work is that you
    can lull yourself into thinking that the bears have accepted you as
    one of them. We saw this a couple of years ago when Michio
    Hoshino was dragged from his tent in the night by a bear, was
    killed and partially eaten. He often talked about how he was one
    with the bears and how the bears accepted him as just another extremely dangerous way of relating to their world.
    Obviously,after spending so many years in the presence of these
    brown bears Treadwell's mind-set was much the same.
    Deluding himself into the into believing a total acceptance by the
    bears of him. Extremely dangerous mind-set to be lulled into.
    These animals are wild, big and powerful they command
    respect at all times.

    In my opinion Treadwell, Hoshino, and all of the others who went
    before them (and all of those who will undoubtedly follow in their
    footsteps in the future) were living on borrowed time. Their
    contributions to our further understanding of these magnificent
    creatures is without question. Their work literally became their
    lifes' work in that it cost them their life. I believe that their
    mind-set concerning their presence among the bears
    contributed in large part to their demise.
  20. In being "one with bears" and understanding them so well, they overlooked
    one important fact about the bear world: Big bears eat little bears. Maybe
    they were more like bears than they (or we) realize.

  21. He wanted to be one with the bears. Well he succeeded as scat.

    I saw those specials with Treadwell and the brown bears a couple times and left with the thought he was a fool living on borrowed time. But because of the media exposure and notoriety, such gave meaning to his life which he thrived on. Thus whether or not he could have moved his life on to other things, he seemed to fancy himself as some kind of "bear man" that had such special rapport with the beasts that he was not in that much danger. Of course from a few reports I just read others argued that with him so he probably heard all the logic from others for not continuing. The fact that he brought his girl friend there shows the unbalanced folly of his attitude.

    I have a question for those who go into areas with dangerous wild animals. How can one know how a bear is going to react if it has never met or known a human? Lets say a young adult male bear from some remote region which up to that time has been the big bad bear of its domain. A bear migrating to a new area which happens to have a human. Size wise the bear is not going to be impressed. Teeth certainly wouldn't scare a cub. And it looks tasty without having any hair or hide to get in the way.

    In the early frontier days of our West some notorious grizzlies killed and ate quite a few men. It is only after a bear has learned men have guns or that observes other bears seems to fear men that they probably develop respect. -David
  22. I'm not as worried about the bear that has never encountered a human. I'm worried
    about the bear that had a bad experience with a human.

    Most bears want nothing to do with humans and I don't believe it is because of
    hunting. Humans are not bear food, and never have been. They would rather eat
    salmon, berries, rodents, moose and elk calf, etc.. Of course, there are exceptions.
    And those exceptions are often final.

    True though, that spending time around bears one becomes a little more
    comfortable. That can leave ones guard down. Personally, I am always a little
    nervous around bears. I hope I always will be.
  23. I agree with Jim... a bear that has never encountered people is better than one that has. They learn that people have food... they don't want to eat the people, just the food (once again, I'm talking about black bears that I'm familiar with) One exception would be a sick bear... confused and unpredictable. I don't understand why people assume that when they see a bear it will chase them down and attack them... that is our own hysteria and paranoia... years of TV and movies. Imagine that you are a bear, in your natural habitat and never seen a person before... then you calmly look over and notice this creature jumping up and down, banging things together and holding it's pack above it's head (to look larger) That would freak anyone out. I'm just saying that going into a panic is not going to help, so you might as well go on your way and enjoy the experience (if the bear is blocking your way... too close to the trail, detour and find a way around, or back-track and wait it out... the bear may move to a different location) Hey, I did have a potentially dangerous encounter with one bear... we were driving and a bear came running down a steep hill, crossed the road right in front of our car. Luckily, it didn't hesitate... like deer sometimes do, so we didn't hit it. This was actually the first time my wife had seen a bear (besides a zoo) but it doesn't really count because of the circumstances. After seeing the young bear on the trail (the one watching the deer) she now understands why I love them, and don't panic when I see one. Like I said, I don't try to interact with them, just observe and admire.
  24. It's very sad that we lost two humans and two bears in his incident, to say nothing of the disruption for NPS personnel, Alaska State Troopers, etc... At the same time, Katmai is fascinating place, and I'm very grateful that it exists to provide opportunities for humans to observe bears in their natural habitat. I spent a week there this summer, and found both the concessionaire and National Park Service personnel to be outstanding in their dedication to safely managing the situation. Unfortunately, there are risks, and sometimes a price for those who take them.
  25. Charles Russell is another bear guy who lives amongst the beasties.

    He has made a name for himself with a book (ISBN: 1552634574) on the 'Spirit Bears' of northeastern B.C. and another book (ASIN: 0679311181) on the bears of Russia's Kamchatka peninsula as well as several other bear books & calenders.

  26. Jim and Jeff,

    Denying that there any bears that in some situations won't be aggressive and attack is the same falacy that Treadwell wanted to believe. And a bear that has never encountered humans? Indeed most will be shy and suspicious which is their usual nature but not all, especially big dominant male polar and grizzly bears.
  27. KTUU News in ANchorage also said that "A biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game performed a necropsy, determining that the bear was approximately 28 years old and had canine teeth that were worn. The examination also revealed that it had been captured in May 1990 during a tagging operation to determine the impact of Exxon Valdez oil spill on bears. The bear was average in size and weighed close to 850 pounds.

    Typically tagging operations involve tranquilizing the bear. I don't think anyone knows what this does to an animal. This bear had been exposed to humans previously in a less than natural encounter.
  28. David, I believe Jeff and I said there are exceptions. Treadwell is proof. But I wonder
    were you get your informaiton? Polar bears are less agressive than Grizzlies. In fact
    some bear biologists refer to Polar bears as *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* cats in demeaner. We tend to give
    bears, wolves, lions, etc. bad raps because it sells better. Big and dominant are not
    the crtiteria for attacks. Usually, a bear is protectiing food (resources) or family,
    same as humans do. Or, sometimes if a preditor is surprised it will attack first and
    ask questions later.

    Deborah, I agree with the point that tranquilized bears have had a bad experience
    with humans. Their motor skills are interupted but they are aware that something is
    violating their bodies. Pulling teeth, rectal examines, etc. and their minds may be
    struggling to fight back but their bodies can't. Did you ever see the footage on the
    Craighead's first tranquilized bear? When the bear came to, it rammed their station
    wagon with its head denting (smashing) the door. Then it jumped on the hood while
    they put the car in reverse to get away.

    Most of the attacks in Glacier and Yellowstone in the 70's and 80's were by tagged
    bears. You got to wonder?

    The fact that the Tredwell bear was 28 years old, old for a Griz in the wild, and that
    his teeth were worn, might lead to a theory that this bear was having a hard time
    getting food. A bear has to be very agile to catch the protien rich salmon. There is a
    lot of unanswered questions, where they cooking near their tent?, or did they have
    food in or near their camp? was the bear looking for an easy meal (camp food) and
    Tredwell got in the way? I'm sure it will be a long time before we understand fully, if
    ever, this unfortunate event.
  29. In regard to the Polar Bears, I have been told that they are the most dangerous predators on earth. They would kill any thing, as they know that they just have to bury the source of food in the snow/ice and it would stay in good condition for a very long period of time. I am just saying what I learnt from the biologists. Please reply to the biologist of the Roger Williams Park Zoo in RI.

    And by the way, I spent one week at Katmai this July. There were no incidents with the bears, in spite of us being surrounded by the bears 24 hours a day. In my observations, every one was following the rules as far as keeping the distance and taking good care of the food supplies. There were occasions where it was inevitable having a grizzly 10 feet away, fortunately, they were not interested in humans at all
  30. I may have a unique perspective on this tragic story. I spent 17 days camping and photographing in the same area as Tredwell and left just days before his death. I feel compelled to make a few observations.
    Whatever Tredwell's philosophy on bears remember he was only camping when he was attacked, not sneaking up on bears, not touching them, not suprising a bear on a kill, or any other activity commonly associated with bear attacks. I don't think it's fair to suggest that Treadwell's philosophy, comments or quotes to suggest he 'got what he deserved'. No one has ever been killed in Katmai and there has been lots of tourist and photographers in the area, so statistically he was not participating in dangerous activity.
    It's easy to say you'd photograph with an 800 mm lense. Having been to this area I can tell you that every photographer from the fearless to the most cautious, with 24mm or 1000mm, ends up being close (within 10 feet, at times) to the bears at times,simply because the bears move that close to you while fishing, fighting or just moving around.
    Maybe Treadwell was a bit unrealistic is his assesment of the possible danger around bears. I don't know this because I never talked with him. But I think the important part of his message is that we can a should be part of the wild, that the dogma that created the near extermination of the grizzly in the rest of the states is wrong.
    Should all the Treadwells, all the climbers all the fighters and everyone else avoid all situations that may include some risk.
    Celebrate this fellow nature lover, and photographer and respect him for his devotion.
  31. "avoid all situations that may include some risk."

    I have been reading the daily articles from, the most reliable source of info regarding this tragedy I've found to date. This type of incident is difficult to discuss and debate due to the loss of two very fine people. Hopefully there is a lesson drawn in regards to risk assessment for people and for the wild creatures they seek to observe. My own point of view is to error on the side of caution when in doubt. In most cases wild animals benefit from minimal contact with humans.

    This is not to say that people should totally avoid natural areas with large predators; just be aware of and follow sound guidelines. Let the bears be bears. They've evolved over millions of years and it's a very new phenomenum for them to be followed around by human beings or bumping into them in so many places.

    We visited Yellowstone in Sept (my last visit was in 1980) and I was astounded at the high visitation rate in the park and the manner in which large numbers of tourists pursue wildlife with cameras. I took some photos, but sadly don't see myself going back there anytime soon due to the high impact of visitation to the park.

    As time progresses, North America will increasingly be the last refuge of large carnivores like bears. It's up to us to make it work and preserve these animals and their habitat, not for our potential entertainment but as a basic fundamental responsibility. A few less photos and a bit more bear privacy could be a good thing, for all involved.

  32. I am a wildlife photographer and artist. I lived and worked in Katmai National Park for several years and I now make my living from my photographs of wild bears (mostly griz.) I have had some close calls with bears in the park only because I failed to pay enough attention to my surroundings. I have always considered myself very fortunate to be amongst the bears in their home - if something bad were to happen to me, I would only blame myself. Bears are truly amazing and captivating creatures; I can see how Timothy would want to be so close to them. I however, remain *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* scared of them and do everything in my power to give them their needed space. I am friends with Doug Peacock (Author of "The Grizzly Years".) He was mentor and friends of both Timothy and Hoshimo. I happen to be with Doug the day he found out about Timothy...he was tearful and hurt, but in no way was he shocked or surprised by the tragedy. -Denise in Montana

Share This Page