Night of the Grizzly
~ A True Story Of Love And Death In The Wilderness ~
Some readers may find the following information and examination disturbing. For this, I apologize. Read at your own discretion. Others will find it interesting, informative and hopefully educational. At the very least we can learn from someone else’s mistakes.
Night Of The Grizzly chronicles the last remaining moments of Tim Treadwell’s and Amie Huguenard’s lives, the discovery and investigation revolving around their deaths and what led up to their tragic end. An attempt will also be made to theorize what actually took place in camp that stormy night back in 2003 by piecing together bits and pieces of a six-minute audio recording left behind.
As I researched this incident, I quickly realized that Tim and I had quite a bit in common and I totally understood his passion. The grizzly bear symbolizes wilderness and a simpler time. There are no highways or skyscrapers in the world of the bear—- but there are boundaries.
However, had we met, Tim and I would have no doubt had some heated discussions about how I thought he was doing more harm than good with his behavior in Alaska. Habituating bears to the presence of man only increases the chance that harm will someday come to the bear, or another “man.”
A special thanks to Rangers Joel Ellis and Rick McIntyre for their interest, their valuable insights, questions and encouragement. Otherwise this would have sat in the archives gathering “electronic” dust.
This is a work in progress. Any mistakes are mine alone, and hopefully I will catch them sooner or later. If someone had told me back in October 2003 that I would be investigating and writing about this incident for several years, I would have laughed. I should have known better.
I hope Jewel Palovak as well as other family and friends of Tim and Amie can somehow find peace in their lives.
Warning: What you are about to read is graphic in detail
Originally published online October 14, 2003
News From Alaska
The remains of Tim Treadwell, 46, a self proclaimed eco-warrior and photographer, along with girlfriend Amie Huguenard, 37, a physicians assistant, both of Malibu California were found Monday October 6, 2003 in Katmai usgs topo map of kaflia bay, alaska, area of maulingNational Park and Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula after the air taxi pilot Willy Fulton, who had flown in to pick the couple up near Kaflia Bay, contacted the National Park Service and Alaska State Troopers to report that a brown bear was sitting on top of what appeared to be human remains near the camp.
For 13 summers Timothy Treadwell fled California for the wilds of Alaska, where he set his camp among some of the largest and most numerous brown bears left in North America. Treadwell gained national celebrity status after his appearance February 20, 2001 on CBS’s David Letterman Show, promoting his 1997 book “Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska”, along with his close-up photographs and video footage, often showing him within arms reach of large brown bears or creeping on all fours towards a sow and her three cubs, talking in a soft, child like, sing song voice.
© Tim Treadwell 2003
Katmai National Park has about 3000 of the total 35,000 Alaskan grizzly bears (ursus arctos horribilis). The coastal version referred to in Alaska as brown bears (ursus arctos), most of whom would weigh in excess of 1000 pounds. (Van Daele 2004)
The term “Brown Bear” is the more correct and scientific use for the specie. “Grizzly” is just common usage in the lower 48, having first been used during the Lewis and Clark expedition when they referred to “a brown bear with grizzled appearance”. (DeVoto) All grizzly bears are actually brown bears, having originated in Eastern Siberia— the Russian brown bear. The black bear is the only native bear in North America (ursus americanus).
For 13 years, Timothy Treadwell camped in several Alaskan parks but Katmai National Park was a favorite, crawling and walking up close to bears and filming them. Often attempting to touch both cubs and adults.
In the 85 year history of the park no visitor had been killed by a grizzly.
Firearms are prohibited within Katmai National Park. Bear spray is allowed, however Tim had quit carrying bear spray for protection several summers prior to his death.
Treadwell often established his camp on or near established bear trails, and intersecting bear trails. During this last season, Tim had also hid and camouflaged his camp at “the grizzly maze” within the thick alder brush in an effort to hide from the Park Service, due to a new rule imposed by the park service which required all backcountry campers to move their camp at least 1 mile every 5 days. (Van Daele 2004, National Park Service 2003)
In late June 2003, Tim and Amie arrive in Katmai and set camp at Hallo Bay, in what Tim referred to as the “Sanctuary”. Amie returns to California after a couple of weeks, and then returns to Katmai just as Tim was moving his camp to “The Grizzly Maze” on Kaflia Lake. Willy Fulton drops the pair off on Sept. 29, 2003. (Fulton 2003)
Tim sent a letter back with Willy Fulton on Amie’s return to Bill Sims, owner of the Newhalen Lodge near Katmai and wrote that “a few bears at his camp were more aggressive than usual”. (AP Wire 2003)
Tim and Amie extend their stay 1 week in an effort to locate a favorite female brown bear not seen earlier. Tim also writes in his diary that Amie believes he is “hell bent on destruction” and that this will be her last season in Alaska with him, leaving him for good, and that she was looking forward to starting a new job and desperate to return to California. (Treadwell 2003)
On Sunday October 5, 2003, sometime between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm, Tim and Amie make a satellite phone call to Jewel Palovak, program director of Grizzly People, and there was apparently no problem at that time. Both seem excited and in happy spirits having located the missing sow. (Epping 2003, pg 13)
Earlier on that same day Tim phoned his pilot friend Willy Fulton to fly his float plane in to pick them up on the beach the following afternoon. (AP Wire 2003, Fulton 2004)
The Early Years
Tim Treadwell was born in New York in 1957 as Timothy Dexter, the third of five children. According to Tim, as a teenager his home life disintegrated often getting stinking drunk and once smashed up the families car. After barely graduating high school, Tim left for Southern California and ended up in Long Beach.
Soon after he arrived, he began working in restaurants while attending college on a swimming scholarship. After the college party life took over his life and losing his scholarship, Tim began auditioning for parts in various sitcoms, changing his name to Treadwell from his mother’s side of the family.
According to his book “Among Grizzlies”, during this period he continued to indulge in alcohol and drugs and finally overdosed on heroin and cocaine in the late 1980s, and was rescued by a Vietnam vet named Terry, whom he had become close to. After he was discharged from the hospital, Tim decided to travel to Alaska and watch bears at the urging of Terry.
His early attempts at camping were almost comical. In his journal he wrote that he was often cold, hungry and tormented by insects, and that the first time he saw a grizzly it ran away. Tim later said he was sad that any bear would find him a threat. (Treadwell 1997)
Mark Emery, a wildlife filmmaker and outdoor guide first saw Treadwell from the air in the early 1990s. Emery was on a charter flight over Hallo Bay in Katmai National Park with a film crew from National Geographic, when they spotted a guy on the ground desperately waving his arms. “Tim said he was learning to be around bears, but that he wanted to get out of there right away because the bears had been in his camp. I took a picture of him holding a water jug that was crushed by a bear.” (Emery 2003)
Emery goes on to say that Tim “was camping near the coast and was nearly out of water, although a freshwater stream was nearby”. At Treadwell’s request the film crew contacted a charter service to pick him up. (Emery 2003)
Back in California during the winter months, Tim worked as a bartender and stayed sober. With a previous girlfriend, Jewel Palovak, he wrote his 1997 book “Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska.” Together they began Grizzly People, a non-profit group devoted to educating people, especially children, about bears and as a way to fund his travels to Alaska.
© Tim Treadwell 2000
Almost from the start, National Park Service officials worried about Tim’s behavior. According to park service records, in 1998 Treadwell was issued a citation by park rangers for storing an ice chest filled with food in his tent. On another occasion he was ordered by park rangers to remove a prohibited portable generator.
A total of 6 park violations or complaints from 1994 to 2003, including guiding tourists without a license, camping in the same area longer than the 5 day limit, improper food storage, wildlife harassment, use of a portable generator, and misc. altercations with visitors and licensed guides.
Treadwell also frustrated park rangers because he refused to carry bear spray. Deb Liggett, superintendent of Katmai National Park became sufficiently concerned about Treadwell that she met him for coffee in Anchorage several years prior to his death. “I told him that if we had any more violations from him we would petition the U.S. magistrate to ban him from the park,”. (Liggett 2003)
Liggett applauded the fact that Treadwell was winning fans for the bears, and was being more careful to warn people not to attempt what he did, but she and other park officials were afraid that “one swipe of a paw would undo all that and result in a frenzy of stories about fearsome, people-eating grizzlies”. (Liggett 2003)
Amie Huguenard apparently did not share the same concern. A physician’s assistant in Aurora, Colo., Amie first fell in love with Treadwell’s book and eventually its author. Huguenard quit her job on Jan. 31, 2003 and moved to Malibu where she was to start a new job after she and Tim returned for the winter.
The couple had spent parts of the three previous summers together in Alaska. On September 29, 2003, Tim and Amie once again are transported to Kaflia Lake by Willy Fulton, the couple wanted one more chance to be with the bears before winter set in. Eight days later they are discovered dead.
Discovery and Investigation
Tim and Amie–Last Expedition © Willy Fulton 2003
As scheduled, at 2:00 PM on Monday October 6, 2003, air taxi pilot Willy Fulton from Andrew Airways arrives at Kaflia Lake to transport Tim and Amie out of the area for the year and is approached by a large brown bear.
Willy states “It was rainy and foggy out that morning.” After landing, Willy believes that he sees Tim shaking out a tarp and yells for the couple but receives no response. He decides to hike up the path from the beach and through the thick alder brush towards the camp after he notices a little bit of movement. When he is about 3/4 way up the hill he senses that “something just didn’t feel right. Something seemed strange, hollering with no answer”.
Willy then states that he turned around and headed back down the path through the thick alders “at a pretty good clip” and just as he gets to the plane, he turns and spots “a pretty nasty looking bear” that he had seen on earlier flights, sneaking slowly down the trail with it’s head down. “Just the meanest looking thing”.
Willy then takes off and flies over the campsite 15 to 20 times in an attempt to chase the bear away, and sees what appears to be the same bear feeding from a human rib cage, but each time he flies over the camp the bear begins to feed even faster. (Fulton 2003, 2004)
Incident Diagram courtesy National Park Service (Body locations are noted by author)
Katmai park ranger Joel Ellis received the call from Andrew Airways at 1:35 PM. Ranger Ellis then requests that Willy Fulton be contacted by radio and asked that he remain “nearby, if he could do so safely”. Willy then lands again about 1 mile west of the camp on the western shore of the lake.
At 3:20 pm, ranger Ellis joins up with two other park rangers at the airport and depart in a park service Cessna 206, with ranger pilot A. Gilliland at the controls and ranger D. Dalrymple in the back seat. Ranger Ellis also has park dispatch report the incident to King Salmon State Troopers as well as Alaska Fish and Game, requesting that troopers meet the park rescue team at Kaflia Lake near Tim and Amie’s camp.
At 4:26 pm the team arrive at the lake, and ranger Ellis conducts a quick interview with Willy Fulton. Willy states that he “could not be 100% sure, but was confident that something was wrong”. (Ellis 2003, pg 2)
Willy advises the rangers that there is only room for one plane to park near the camp and climbs into the park service Cessna for the quick taxi to the south shore. As they approach the area, ranger pilot Gilliland spots a large adult bear near the top of the hill where the campsite is supposedly located.
After exiting the plane, the four begin slowly hiking up the path from the lake, yelling as they walk to help locate any surviving victims, and to alert any nearby bears of their presence. Ranger Ellis states that “the visibility was poor with a heavy growth of bushes and tall grass, the camp was located on top of a ridge and out of our sight. We had radio contact with Alaska State Troopers Hill and Jones”, who were forced to park their plane 300 meters away and had to hike through the thick brush, “so we elected to wait at the base of the hill until Troopers Hill and Jones could catch up”.
Ranger Ellis was standing with ranger Gilliland and Willy Fulton to his left. Ranger Dalrymple was slightly ahead of Gilliland when Gilliland suddenly yells, Bear! while pointing to the right. Ranger Ellis states that he turned and “saw an adult bear moving toward the group about 20 feet away”. All four begin yelling in hopes that the bear would see them and move away. Ranger Ellis then states that he “perceived that the bear was well aware of their presence and was stalking them”. Ranger Ellis, armed with a 40 cal. handgun begins to fire at about the same time rangers Gilliland and Dalrymple, who were each armed with 12 gauge shotguns loaded with slugs also begin to shoot at the bear.
Ranger Ellis fires 11 times while rangers Gilliland and Dalrymple each fire 5 times, dropping the bear 12 feet away. “That was cutting it thin” stated Ellis. After about 10 seconds the bear dies and Willy Fulton then reportedly says “I want to look that bear in the eyes” and states that he is sure that this was the bear that chased him back to his plane earlier. (Ellis 2003, pg 3)
Human remains were then found buried by a bear near the campsite, which was in a brushy area with poor visibility.
Site of Tim and Amie’s Camp © N.P.S.
Two tents were discovered, one for gear and the main tent used for sleeping. Both were collapsed and torn, however there was no evidence that the bear had pulled the victims from the main tent. In front of this main tent was a large mound of mud, grass and sticks, five feet long, 4 foot wide, and 3 feet high. After moving a clump of dirt, ranger Ellis later recalled seeing “fingers and an arm protruding from the pile”. (Ellis 2003, pg 4. Gilliland 2003, pg 10)
Food was found in the camp secured in 4 or 5 metal bear proof canisters, as well as open snack food found untouched inside the sleeping tent. Both Tim and Amie’s shoes were also found neatly still in place at the entrance to the main tent.
Rangers Ellis and Dalrymple then hike back down the path to retrieve cameras from the plane. Ranger Gilliland states that he was “standing at the top of the knoll about 10 feet from the mound” containing Amie, looking around when he spots a large bear about 15 feet away walking up the same trail they had just hiked up, and the same trail that rangers Ellis and Dalrymple had just walked down. After yelling Bear! The two troopers, who had arrived at this point, as well as Willy Fulton, begin yelling at the bear “to get out!”. The bear hesitates for about 2 seconds before turning and walking back down the trail to the lake. (Gilliland 2003, pg 10)
Meanwhile, ranger’s Dalrymple and Ellis, having just reached the plane and out of ear shot of the activity unfolding back at camp, spot a large adult bear moving down the trail from the camp. The two climb onto the plane’s float and yell as the bear continues to move away. Because the bear did not appear to be acting aggressively, the rangers allowed it to move off. (Ellis 2003, pg 4)
Investigators combing the nearby area around the campsite discover what was left of Timothy Treadwell. “His head connected to a small piece of (spine}”, and what has been described as a frozen grimace on his face. “His right arm and hand laying nearby with his wrist watch still attached”. (Fulton 2004, Ellis 2003, pg 5)
Meanwhile, searchers excavating the bear’s cache back in camp discover Amie Huguenard, who’s arm and fingers had been exposed to the daylight when investigators first entered the camp. Appearing as though she were peacefully asleep except that her body, like Tim’s, had been mostly eaten by the bear. (Ellis 2003, pg 5)
© Tim Treadwell 2000
Later, as the helicopter was being loaded, a second smaller bear approximately 3 years old seemed to be stalking the rangers and it was shot and killed as well.
Ranger Ellis states that he “saw a bear about 30 feet away”. Ranger Gilliland fires a warning shot into the air, however the bear did not react. “This bear was intermittently visible as it moved through the brush and tall grass. We were yelling and the bear was looking right at us.”
As the bear continued to move towards the group ranger Ellis fires a shotgun, while trooper Hill and ranger Gilliland also begin firing at the bear. “The bear dropped but continued to move. Ranger Gilliland moved in and fired a final shot” killing the bear, states Ellis. (Ellis 2003, pg 5)
Video and still camera equipment, also found at the site, were later analyzed by Alaska State Troopers where it was discovered that the last remaining 6 minutes of video tape, which was found still in the camera bag, had captured the sounds of the attack.
The first sounds from the tape are from Amie, “she sounds surprised and asks if it’s still out there”. Apparently either Tim had asked Amie to turn the camera on, or Amie just turned it on out of reflex. (I don’t believe this latter scenario took place for one minute which I will discuss in detail below). At any rate, the attack was in progress when the camera was turned on.
The next voice is from Timothy as he screams “Get out here! I’m getting killed out here!” (Tim was wearing a remote microphone on his coverall’s). The sound of a tent zipper is then heard and the tent flap opening. Amie is heard screaming over the background sounds of rain hitting the tent, the wind, and other storm sounds all mixed in with the bear and Tim fighting to “Play dead!” Seconds pass before Amie yells again to “Play dead!” (Van Daele 2004)
Not surprisingly, with Amie yelling and screaming nearby, this seems to work and the bear breaks off the attack. (more on this below) A short conversation ensues as Amie and Tim try and determine if the bear is really gone. Being trained as a physician’s assistant, it is believed that Amie made her way to Tim, and from the sounds caught on tape, the bear returns and Amie is forced to back off. Tim then is clearly heard screaming that playing dead isn’t working and begs her to “hit the bear!” ( Van Daele 2005, Fallico 2004)
The sound of rain hitting the tent, along with wind muffle the sounds at this point. However, Amie is clearly heard yelling to “Fight back!” She is then heard screaming “Stop! Go Away! or possibly Run Away!” as the sound of “a frying pan is used to beat the top of the bears head and the sound of Tim moaning. (Fallico 2004)
It is believed that at this point in the attack, the bear let go of Tim’s head which the bear had in it’s mouth, and grabbed him somewhere in the upper leg area. The sound of Amie screaming very loudly, as Tim is clearly heard over the sounds of the storm, saying “Amie get away, get away, go away”. Tim knew he was going to die at this point and wanted to save Amie from the same fate. (Herzog, Fallico 2004)
Amie did not go away.
Tim With The “Grinch” © Lion’s Gate Films 2004
The audio portion of this video tape lasts roughly 6 minutes. During this period, Tim’s cries and pleadings can be heard for two-thirds of that time. He did not die quickly, unlike some traumatic death victims who were lucky enough to drift off into a shock induced dream state. Tim was obviously very aware and struggling desperately to survive during the last moments of his life.
Unlike what is portrayed in the movies, the bear is nearly silent. Only low growls and periodic grunts are heard which only adds to the horror of the scene. Sounds of the bear dragging Tim off, and the fading sounds of his scream’s indicate that Tim is being pulled and dragged into the brush and away from camp.
As the tape comes to an end, the sounds of Amie’s high-pitched screams rise to a new level, much like what has been described as “the sound of a predator call used by hunters to produce the distress cries of a small wounded animal which often attracts bears”. Biologist Larry Van Daele, for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game theorizes that Amie’s screams “may have prompted the bear to return and kill her.” ( Van Daele 2004 )
We can only envision the horror of what Amie had witnessed and heard. Hysterical and “paralyzed with fear, standing just outside of the tent until the bear returned and attacked her”. (I’m not convinced of this. More on this below too) (Readers Digest 2005)
On Friday, October 8, 2003, two days after investigators first arrived and killed the two bears, a necropsy of the larger bear was conducted at the scene by biologist Larry Van Daele, where it was learned the stomach and digestive tract contained human remains and torn pieces of clothing. Four garbage bags containing human remains were removed and flown out by helicopter. (Egli 2004) The smaller younger bear had been eaten by other bears before the multi-agency team could return and only the head remained, so no determination could be made as to whether this young bear played any part in the deaths or the consumption of the victims.
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Questions and Theories
What happened? What caused the first fatal bear attack in Katmai National Park history? Rare in itself. Rarer yet, a bear who then consumes the victims.
It would be easy to say; Well, the fact that Tim often walked up close to bears to photograph them caused his death. However, examining the evidence shows that this was not the case entirely, but was a contributing factor. The attack and killings took place in camp the night before Willy Fulton flew in to pick Tim and Amie up. Sunday night, and not during the day while Tim was normally out filming and interacting with bears.
When a bear comes into a camp, especially at night, we know that this is not a typical bear encounter but a bear that has possibly been conditioned to humans and human food, trash, or an older bear no longer able to feed on natural foods as efficiently, and we know that bears sometimes came into Tim’s camp at night during previous summer excursions. (Dr. Herrero 1985, Treadwell 2001, 2002, et al)
For Tim, this was nothing unusual. After all, he camped on established bear trails, or near intersecting bear trails, and had contact with the same bears every year and felt he knew each one personally. In each case, Tim would leave the tent as soon as he heard a bear nearby, and would calmly talk to them in his often child like voice encouraging and forcing them to leave. (Treadwell 2001)
How do we know that? He often taped the encounters.
So what happened? Here is my theory of what took place that cold and stormy night.
Tim and Amie decide to stay a week later than they had ever stayed in the past, in search of a favorite bear yet unseen. Bears in Katmai National Park typically begin to den sometime in October or November and go into hyperpagia in early September, as they try to gain as much weight as possible prior to denning by mass feeding.
The salmon run was at its end, and the river that flowed through the “grizzly maze” contained the last remaining salmon of the year. There is a possibility, as well as some speculation, that wilder unknown bears from the interior had possibly moved in, forcing out the bears Tim was used to seeing and interacting with each year.
The berry crop was also reported poor by U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents.
The older, larger bear that killed Tim and Amie had been ear tagged in 1990 after the Valdez-Alaska oil spill as part of a larger research project, and had the number 141 tattooed on the inside of it’s upper lip. At the time of necropsy, 3 days after Tim and Amie were killed, bear #141 was reported to be “a scrawny, but healthy 1000 pound 28-year-old male that was probably looking to fatten up for winter, with broken canine teeth, and others worn down to the gums”. (Dalrymple 2003 , Van Daele 2004) Right at the end of a three month long salmon spawn, which would indicate that this bear was no longer able to feed on natural food items as efficiently, as well as in competition with other, younger, stronger, more dominant bears for what little food remained, and we know from past experience that an older bear no longer able to feed on natural foods, will make more use of garbage, and often raid camps and cabins if it has ever had those food items available to it in the past.
Bears are opportunistic in obtaining food. Whatever is easy to get to while expending the least amount of energy. Brooks camp, a well known and heavily used fly in fishing camp is 60 air miles from Tim and Amie’s camp.
My experience with camps like this is, there is always at least some garbage, trash or other food items laying around. Lets face it, humans are not exactly the cleanest animals on the planet, “what harm would it do to just toss this banana peal or apple core?”
The harder garbage is to dispose of, and in this case all garbage had to be flown out by plane, the easier and more available it is for bears in the area to get to. Brooks camp would also increase the amount of human encounters. Habituation to humans results in loss of fear. However, it is unknown whether bear #141 had ever gotten into or received some sort of food reward from humans. We can only speculate.
There was also speculation that bear #141 was a bear that Tim had never had contact with in past years. However, from statements made by Willy Fulton, the pilot that transported Tim and Amie in and out each year, “this was a bear he had seen before” on previous flights and was “just a dirty rotten bear, that Tim didn’t like anyway, and wanted to be friends with but never happened”. (Fulton 2004)
Likewise, after reviewing the video tape made by Tim 10 days before he was killed, it is now believed that bear #141 was a bear that Tim had named “Ollie, the big old grumpy bear”. (Gaede 2005, et al)
Tim and Amie’s friends have also speculated that “bear #141 was an abused bear”, because it had been previously trapped, tranquilized and tattooed, and that the bear had actually hunted Tim and Amie that night, and “came for them”. If this were true, then we would have hundreds, possibly even thousands of bears hunting humans each year, which is just not the case and has been an argument made since the early 1960’s when bears were first trapped and studied. That somehow these same bears then want to get back at humans is just too far reaching. (Gaede 2005)
Tim At The “Grizzly Maze” © Lion’s Gate Films 2004
Amie and Tim were in the tent on Sunday night chatting about that days filming and returning to “the world”.
Open snack food was found in the tent untouched, so they were about to eat a quick snack before bed as the sound of a bear is heard outside. Tim leaves the tent and walks away from the tent and towards the bear.
As Tim leaves the tent, investigators believe that Amie instinctively turns the camera on, possibly as “her message in a bottle”, and then asks Tim if the bear is still out there, and almost immediately the bear attacks. (Van Daele 2005, Readers Digest 2005)
I don’t believe this for a minute. Having the presence of mind to turn a camera on with a bear just outside of a thin tent wall could only come from repetition, from someone who had done it many times.
Amie had only spent a few weeks, each of the three years that she had been to Alaska. Tim on the other hand, had spent months each year for 13 years, five of which carrying a video camera, and literally filmed everything! Every thought, every bear, every encounter, virtually every moment of every day, so that the camera became an extension of his body, and to think that Amie somehow knew that she and Tim were going to die that night is hard to believe.
I believe Tim left the tent and walked towards the bear a short distance, speaking softly to it as he had on numerous occasions, encouraging the bear to leave. The bear keeps its distance, and when it appears that this will be like any other encounter, Tim decides to tape at least the audio portion for use in future presentations, yelling out to Amie to turn the camera on, which startles the bear, who had been still up to this point, and triggers the attack. Up until that point, the bear had probably been sizing Tim up and making a judgment of threat level.
Amie turns the camera on and asks if the bear is still out there. Tim then yells for Amie to “Get out here! I’m getting killed out here!”. Amie leaves the tent (the sound of a zipper and the tent door being opened) and sees Tim on the ground struggling with his head in the bear’s mouth and yells for him to “play dead!”.
Bears often attack, or defend themselves by first going for the head in an attempt to take out the opponents weapon; the face, mouth and head. Bear number #141 had worn, broken canines and was unable to make use of this tactic, along with the fact that the human head is just too large to fit directly inside of a bears mouth. “Often ripping and tearing the scalp, ears, and face”. (Herrero 1985, et al)
In my opinion, Amie was able to drive the bear away initially, because this was an older bear who had become conditioned when dealing with younger, stronger, more dominant bears by moving away from the food it had just obtained after being challenged, and was probably startled by a second animal, Amie in this case, suddenly appearing and making a lot of noise.
After scaring the bear away, Amie and Tim have a short conversation while determining where the bear is, and whether it is still nearby. Amie is cautious and afraid, the tent is a secure refuge in her mind. Amie then walks over to Tim, and based on training in the hospital no doubt told Tim to lay still, but is then tested and driven away by the bear, and at this point in the attack I believe Tim realized that this was not a typical bear encounter, and that playing dead was not going to work and the wrong response, yelling at Amie to “hit the bear!”.
Again, I believe this older male bear had become conditioned through repetition. In the past when this bear had been driven away from a freshly caught salmon or other food item, the need to eat and put on weight had no doubt caused this bear to then test the true strengths of the thief and attempt to re-take its meal. Hundreds of video taped encounters like this have been filmed over the years with many different bears. Tim had even filmed such encounters.
Once the bear had driven Amie off, I believe the bears predatory instincts took over and decided to drag Tim off to a more secure area after Amie returned and began aggressively attacking it with the frying pan, just as the bear would have done when dealing with other more dominant bears and a freshly caught salmon or moose calf.
Photo © Tim Treadwell 2001
In video footage recovered from the camp, there was at least some video taken days or hours earlier, showing Amie sitting on the ground as a large bear sits behind her within 10 feet.
In this footage, Amie is obviously nervous and scared as she leans away from the bear. Likewise, we know from Tim’s diary that Amie was frightened of bears.
Knowing this, I think Amie was #1: Reluctant to leave the tent and approach and attack the bear that was on Tim right from the start of the attack and #2: Not knowledgeable enough about bears herself to know that this was not a typical bear encounter, and that once she was able to push the bear away and had moved over to Tim, that she needed to fight back aggressively to keep the bear from returning, and once the bear tested her and she ran or moved away from Tim, that this triggered a predatory instinct in the bear to protect “its kill”, and dragged Tim away to a safer location. Much as it would have done with a salmon or other food item when approached by other bears in the area.
In previous night time bear encounters around remote camps, individuals who aggressively fought bears that were attacking their friend, were in most cases, able to drive the bear away. “Grizzly bears usually enter camping areas at a walk and at night. Before an attack, a person seldom sees any signs of aggression” writes, Dr. Stephen Herrero in his book “Bear Attacks, Their Causes and Avoidance”. Individuals who have aggressively yelled at the bear, or thrown rocks or other objects to distract the bear, generally have then had time to move away to safety or, they drove the bear away with the first yell and aggressive action. Night encounters are much different than surprise encounters during the day and must be handled differently. (Herrero 1985, Schullery 1992, et al)
However, in cases where individuals were able to drive a bear away during night encounters, but then moved away from the victim, either on purpose, or by the bear returning and “testing” this healthy person driving them off, the bear has in nearly every case dragged the victim even farther, and then killed and consumed him or her. Extremely rare, but it has happened. (Long 2002, McMillion 1998, Herrero 1985, et al)
Had Amie aggressively fought off the bear after she got to Tim, would she have been able to save him and herself? Had she helped Tim back to the tent after the bear had moved off after the initial attack, or had Tim and Amie brought a can of “Bear Spray”, as they had on earlier expeditions, would they be alive today? Those are questions that will never be answered. Anything is possible.
I believe that, had Tim not walked away from the tent and towards the bear, and had stayed with Amie, or had they both left the tent and backed away from the tent giving the bear room, that the bear would not have attacked and both Tim and Amie would be alive today. Bears are more reluctant to attack multiple people than they are one lone individual. In this particular case, the bear came walking down the path that night and had no where else to go, but right through the camp with Tim and Amie’s tent in the middle of the trail.
I partially agree with the investigators, in that Amie screaming had initiated the attack on her after Tim had been dragged off. If Amie had remained quiet, I doubt that the bear would have returned to her, which would have given her enough time to back away and get to the beach, where she could have hidden until the next day when Willy Fulton was expected to arrive, but when faced with the horror’s she had just witnessed, who can blame her for losing her mind and screaming.
However, I do not believe that Amie’s screams attracted the bear “like a predator call”. There is no doubt that the sight’s and sounds of Tim being dragged away from camp by the bear horrified Amie to the point where she lost her mind with fear. When left with nothing else to do and confronted with extreme danger, screamed even louder in hopes that somehow this nightmare would end and the bear would once again leave Tim. After all, she had screamed earlier and was successful in driving the bear away. No gun, no weapon of any kind except for a frying pan, screaming was all she had left.
Instead of attracting the bear “like a predator call”, I believe this very aggressive bear was still attempting to “protect its kill”. I believe that Amie more than likely ran after the bear a short distance, as it was dragging Tim up the trail screaming at the top of her lungs and striking the bear with the frying pan once again in a last ditch effort to drive the bear away, but was then pushed back to the tent a second time. The bear was then caught up in the “cat and mouse” chase that no doubt resulted around the tent, and the bears predatory instinct was triggered and Amie was killed.
This latter scenario can not be confirmed because thankfully for us the video tape ran out before it occurred.
An Unconventional Person
Photo ©Tim Treadwell 2003
This incident occurred due to ” An unconventional person with unconventional behavior toward bears, camped in the middle of a very dangerous situation.”. Such were the words of biologist Larry Van Daele in trying to make sense of this tragedy. Unconventional? Indeed.
Tim’s foolish disregard for his own safety, and over confidence dealing with bears in the past, luck really, not to mention his mistake of placing anthropomorphic values on bears, and disregarding established federal guidelines when photographing and camping with brown bears contributed to both Tim and Amie’s death. Grizzly bears are wild animals and should always be treated as such, wild and unpredictable. Not a pet, or lovable cuddly bear.
Tim would often tell listeners about the time he calmly defused a dangerous encounter with a bear, by talking softly to it. When the confrontation was over, he claimed to have laid down and napped next to the sleeping bear. Likewise, in a 1994 interview when he was asked whether he was ever afraid of the bears, he responded with saying “They wouldn’t hurt me”.
Did Treadwell have a special connection with the bears? Not all bear researchers think so. “I’ve been working on bears for a long time, and more and more I’m convinced that most of the credit for bears and people getting along goes to the bears,” said John Hechtel, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“Bears along the Alaskan coast are well-fed because of the area’s salmon runs. The salmon attract an extremely dense population of bears. So, the challenge for the coastal grizzlies isn’t dealing with people — it’s competing for food”. (Hechtel 2003)
Throughout the movie, Grizzly Man, we see Tim in numerous close encounters, and very nearly attacked on several occasions. Because he was not attacked says more for the bears than to Tim’s expertise in handling aggressive bears. He was just plain lucky for 13 years and became over confident in his own abilities. The fact that he was not killed earlier, just goes to prove that grizzly bears really want nothing to do with humans and would rather avoid us whenever possible, but will tolerate us, to a point. There are boundaries in the world of the bear, and in wilderness.
Each year, when Tim set camp within Katmai National Park, he voluntarily became a member of the food chain, and by not placing an electric fence around his camp (All bear researchers that camp in this area reportedly set up portable electric fences), by hiding his camp from park rangers in dense alder brush thickets, as well as refusing to carry bear spray (firearms are prohibited in National Parks) and by crawling and walking up close to large brown bears, often touching or attempting to touch adult bears and young cubs, showed a total disregard for his life, the life of his girlfriend Amie Huguenard, and the lives of each bear that he interacted with. (National Park Service 2003) The same bears he claimed to protect.
Who’s to blame? Only Tim, and of course Amie for trusting Tim, but then who can really say? It is possible that this incident would have occurred no matter what precautions Tim and Amie might have taken. It is very easy to sit back in our nice comfortable living rooms and Monday morning quarterback what occurred far away and a week, or even years earlier.
It could be as simple as; Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s the risk we have to take to see the last remaining symbol of wilderness. Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you. The more time you spend with grizzly bears increases the chances that the bear will someday get you.
A sobering thought for someone like myself. One who spends so much time each year around grizzly bears, but is also the thought that keeps me in check. It is far too easy to fall prey to your own self confidence. Always reminding myself that the more time I spend in “grizzly country” increases the chances that someday, something could go wrong “keeps me on my toes” at all times and always expecting things to “go south” at any moment.
Very strange things happen in the backcountry when you are least expecting it. No matter how many safety precautions you may have taken, or how prepared you might be.
I have to wonder though, Did Tim still think that grizzly bears were “mainly harmless party animals” as the bear attacked and then dragged him away from camp ? (Tim Treadwell)
Hero’s and Nightmares
The true hero of this sad tale is of course Amie Huguenard, the one person in this saga that we know so little about. Who, even though horrified at the sights and sounds of Tim being eaten alive, stayed with a man she knew was “hell bent on destruction”, overcoming her fear and fought a thousand pound grizzly bear with nothing more than a frying pan for at least 6 minutes in an attempt to save her friend and lover Tim Treadwell.
Knowing that both tents were knocked down, the contents, including open snack food, as well as their neatly placed shoes discovered untouched in the sleeping tent, sends chills down my back when I think about it, and I have often woke in the middle of the night drenched in a cold sweat knowing that Amie had retreated to the main tent as Tim was being dragged kicking and screaming away from camp.
Did Amie try and keep the tents between herself and the bear when it returned? Dodging and weaving around one tent, and then the other, out of her mind with fear? No where to go, no tree to climb, no police officer to call, and left screaming, running around the only barrier left between her and the bear, only to have the bear finally just go over the top and finally catch her?
The stuff horror movies are made of. Stephen King could not have dreamed of a more frightening sequence of events. I suppose that is my payment for knowing too much information, and being able to fill in the blanks. I only hope that the end came quick for Amie.
Grizzly Man – The Movie
A final note on the movie Grizzly Man. In the last few minutes of the film, we see Tim walking across the tidal flats with two red fox following close behind. Pretty neat, and I have to admit I too have had similar experiences. Anyone that spends as much time in the field as Tim and I have, will no doubt have had similar experiences.
I remember once out at my bear viewing area sitting alone one day, and feeling a bit sleepy in the warm sun I decided to lay back and close my eyes for a moment, when I remember feeling that something was watching me. I slowly raised up and looked around, only to discover that a family of 6 coyotes had moved in behind me, the adult alpha’s sitting within feet of me while the pups played nearby.
After a few minutes, I decided to get up and walk across the meadow, only to have the whole family follow along beside me.
The only difference between Tim and I is, Tim felt that the fox were kindred spirits, whereas I knew that the coyotes were looking at me as they would any other large carnivore in the wild, and that hopefully I would lead them to food much as a bear or wolf would do. Or maybe, I was the food!
Willy Fulton states; “Tim was a little smarter than most people gave him credit for. He made it out here a long time before they (the bears) got him”.
No Willy. Tim was just lucky and his luck finally ran out.
After watching the special airing of the movie Grizzly Man on the Discovery Channel February 4, 2006. I, along with many others found it very curious that Tim’s possessions and ashes were handed over to Jewel Palovak and not to his parents. From what I could find out, the only possession of Tim’s returned to his parents was his teddy bear, which he carried with him his entire adult life, including all 13 summers to Alaska. (I have new details regarding this–to be added–basically, Tim wrote out and signed a letter to the park service claiming that he had no living relatives, and should he be killed, to give his possessions and remains to Jewel Palovak).
At the end of the movie, the Discovery Channel had a special interview with his friends, as well as additional out-takes of the movie. One scene that was not included in the movie was of Jewel Palovak and pilot Willy Fulton looking down on the decayed carcass of a young sub-adult bear. Jewel states that no bears were poached while Tim was in Katmai, but that after he died 6 bears were poached within the park.
The problem I have with this is, the decomposing bear carcass I saw in the out-take showed no actual sign of being poached, it was just a dead bear. Bears die all the time, they fight, they starve, they get diseases and other injuries, they die. In fact, in the movie Grizzly Man, Tim himself had video taped the remains of a young bear that had been killed and eaten by other bears.
Tim’s friends claim that poaching “goes on all the time” and that Tim protected the bears while he was in Katmai, but if in fact there had been 6 bears poached after Tim was killed, I think we would have seen more conclusive evidence of this and probably the main reason why Werner did not include that particular scene in the movie. A decomposed carcass of a dead bear laying in the grass is just that—a carcass of a bear. Who knows how it died.
Jewel Palovak also states in her interview, that Tim was working with the park service, providing them with information on boat traffic, weather and other data collected. In fact, there is no evidence that Tim worked closely with the park service in any way. If Tim did provide basic information on visitor use, boat and plane traffic, as well as weather information, I would argue that it was more in passing during incidental conversation, and not with official record keeping. If Tim was working closely with the park service, why did he feel the need to hide his camps from them? Not to mention the temper tantrum he threw on camera cursing the park service personnel for harassing him. (More on this –I discovered only one official document which Tim used to track and record public use from June 27, 1999 through July 10, 1999 and one unofficial hand written document regarding weather for June 1-13, 2000. No other record keeping by Tim was turned over to the park service.)
© Tim Treadwell 2003
One other thought came to mind after a short conversation with a Yellowstone biologist who is also interested in this story. It was very interesting, and rather suspicious, that every time Tim reached out to the fox in the movie, the fox would nip at or lick his fingers.
Was Tim feeding the fox? Had he also habituated the fox to him, as well as all humans by feeding them? If so, his concern for people killing fox then placed those very fox he was so desperate to protect in even greater danger the next time they encounter a human and expect to be fed. Not surprising the fox followed his every step. Documented video shot by Tim of him feeding the fox has been uncovered.
There have been quite a few comments made about Tim being responsible for Amie’s death, I have actually struggled with this for several years now.
Without a doubt, Tim holds some of the responsibility for Amie’s death. But keep in mind, Amie was a smart girl, she was a physicians assistant after all, no small feat. Amie was no doubt in love with this odd-ball, but she wasn’t stupid, or weak, She could have left at any time. Tim did not handcuff or hold her hostage up in Alaska, Amie came and went of her own free will twice each year for three summers.
Watching bears and wolves in the wilderness is addicting. I know, I’ve experienced it myself and I have seen folks give up high paying jobs just to be able to do it. Don’t ask me why because I can’t explain it myself, and many people would never understand it, even if I were able to explain it.
Amie may have found the adventure of traveling to Alaska romantic and exciting and may have even found spending time with a quirky guy like Tim to be entertaining and a refreshing escape from her work-a-day life in the city, no doubt filled with dangers and freaks of its own, but the truth and reality is Tim did not kill Amie. A bear killed Amie.
This story just keeps evolving. The more we learn, the less we seem to know or understand.
I originally had thoughts of turning this into a book, but after much thought and consideration, I decided that in doing so, I would be profiting from someone’s death. There are several books that have already been published, much too early in my opinion, and before most of the information I have been able to uncover has been released, all with their own theories and speculation. I hope that in publishing this story online, that this will prevent those authors from profiting from Tim and Amie’s death.
Frequently Asked Question
Have you listened to the supposedly “real death audio” that is floating around on the internet, including UTube and is it real?
I have heard it and no it is not real but a fake or spoof. Jewel Palovak still holds the original tape and has no plans to release it. I hope that she never does. There is now a second fake version posted on UTube. The publisher of this latest UTube version stated to me in an email that he knew the audio he labeled as real, is in fact a fake. It was posted to draw traffic to his UTube page.
There are several ways to determine whether one of these recordings is real or not. Just recently I was given access to the first 2 minutes of the 6 minute tape. There are two sounds that have not been published that are unmistakeable and have been missing in each fake tape that I have heard. All fake recordings so far have been under 3 minutes in length and the real tape is 6 minutes. As I reported above in my investigation the bear is nearly silent. Bears typically make very little sounds, and each fake recording has the sound of a bear roaring, growling, and making all sorts of noises. In movies, bear noises are dubbed in electronically.
AP Wire. 2003, Associated Press Release.
DeVoto, Bernard. 1953, The Journals of Lewis and Clark: Mariner books. 504pp.
Dalrymple, Derek. Katmai Park Ranger. 2003 National Park Service Incident Report, pages 11, 12.
Ellis, Joel. Katmai National Park Ranger. 2003 Scene Investigator. 2003 Park Service Incident Report; pages 1-9.
Egli, Sam. Egli Air (Helicopter) Haul. 2004, On camera interview: Grizzly Man Movie
Emery, Mark. Wildlife filmmaker and outdoor guide. 2003, AP Wire Interview.
Fallico, Dr. Franc. Alaska State Medical Examiner. 2004, On camera interview: Grizzly Man Movie
Fulton, Willy. Andrews Airways Pilot. 2004, On camera interview: Grizzly Man Movie. 2003 Park Service Incident Report pages 2,3,9.
Gaede, Marc. 2006, Discovery Channel Special, on camera interview. 2006, Email correspondence.
Hechtel, John. Wildlife biologist, Alaska Department of Fish and Game. 2003 AP Wire Interview.
Herrero, Dr. Stephen. 1985, Bear Attacks, Their Causes and Avoidance: Lions & Burford Publishers. 260pp.
Herzog, Werner. Director/Producer Grizzly Man Movie. 2004, On camera dialog: Grizzly Man Movie.
Liggett, Deb. Superintendent of Katmai National Park. 2003, AP Wire Interview.
Long, Ben. 2002, Great Montana Bear Stories: Riverbend Publishing. 175pp.
McMillion, Scott. 1998, Mark of the Grizzly: Falcon Press.249pp.
National Park Service, 2003, Treadwell Incident Review Board Report
Palovak, Jewel. 2006, Discovery Channel Special, on camera interview.
Readers Digest. 2005, Trapped: The Life Of Timothy Treadwell; A Cry For Help
Schullery, Paul. 1992, The Bears of Yellowstone. 318pp
Treadwell, Tim. 2001, CBS, David Letterman Show Interview. 2001, Discovery Channel on camera interview. 2003, Personal diary entries. 1997, Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska.
Whittlesey, Lee H. 1995, Death in Yellowstone, Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park: Roberts Rinehart Publishers. 217pp.
Van Daele, Larry. Biologist, Alaska Fish and Game Dept. 2005, Readers Digest Interview. 2003, Treadwell Incident Review Board Member. 2003, Scene Investigator
Submit your review
I find this author to be authentic. I agree with his assessments and the supporting arguments of how this tragedy unfolded.
I agree that Tim had become complacent and relaxed in his abilities to interact with wild animals. Also, I agree that Amie is a hero, she did not know how to respond exactly to behaviors of bears... but fought valiantly.
I have one thing to add to his assessment of Tim. This actually comes from when Tim said that the interactions with bears saved him from his other addictions, that he found reward in the bears which replaced his addictions. This I believe is a strong reason why he became relaxed and had false trust in all of them, ... in actuality Tim believed the bears had saved his life, and therefore he trusted them, in them, in a spiritual way. This obviously was a fantasy as you stated that animals in the wild often tolerate us, until their predatory instincts are activated, so we do get lucky.. but it can and did run out in this tragedy.
Great on facts, but TERRIBLY written. Full of errors, typos, sentences that make no sense, etc. This article is one of the worst writings I've ever read. Did a pre-teen write this???
This is a very insightful article. It makes much more sense than other theories I have read. I see that others here have commented on the grammatical errors among other things, however, it is a very well thought out theory on what really happened and that is what matters.
I became acquainted with this news not long ago, and I couldn't help but do a lot of research on this strangest affair. Your research work is impressive, thank you for all this research, this analysis, this information that you have found to finally elucidate this extraordinary and unfortunately tragic event.
Very well thought out and explained. Thank you. You’ve done a service to them by not adding to the horror as some others have but instead tried to provide clarity to tragedy.
Excellent, recently found out about this somehow and wanted to learn more. Thank you for covering this for us all! I really appreciate it.
Great article, glad to see someone putting in real research. One thing I will say, you mention firearms are prohibited in National Parks. In general or in its entirety this is false. The discharge of a firearm is prohibited, but possession is not. This is the Federal statue, that is not to say that Alaska does not have a state law prohibiting them. This I am unaware of as I am not familiar with Alaska state laws. I’ve carried a Glock 10mm on my chest in Yellowstone, Glacier, and others. Completely legal as long as you don’t enter any of the Federal buildings. Would I shoot a bear in self defense inside a national park? Absolutely, would I be charged for it? Unlikely, as long as it’s obvious self defense. But I still carry bear spray as I would prefer for me and the bear to use that. Rangers know it’s legal, they just don’t ever mention it as an option as they rather people use bear spray. Which I do agree is a very affective tool.
Thank you for sharing your research and thoughts. I couldn’t help but give the wild animals human emotions while watching Timothy. I first watched the documentary in grade school and was captivated by Timothy and his story. I remember feeling shocked once I found out how it all ended for him and his partner. It is well said that the Grizzly Man was just really lucky going out into the wilderness purposely interacting with bears and NOT getting attacked. Aimee’s possible final moments are heart breaking. Thanks for the citations.
I honestly believe he was even feeding the bears. Im sorry for what happened to them. Also I looked and found no truth to 6 bears being killed illegally... I even reached out to a park ranger and was told it was not true. I wonder why she would make something like that up? The whole story is sad. But out of everyone your explanation is by far the one that makes most sense.
Thank you for all the work you put into this piece and for sharing it with us.
Fascinating explanation of such a tragic event. I recently heard a tape connected to this event, their was bear noises, apart from a low crunching and two people conversing.
I hate reading, I have two college degrees and am very educated and extremely smart however I’m just now “reader”. However this article and the way it was written with such authenticity but not being dull and just plain information was very captivating and so easy to read. So much in fact I was late turning on football this Sunday morning and that says ALOT. I appreciate and agree with your well thought out opinions. I appreciate this kind of “reporting” if you will. Not written by some weird Green Party lunatic that thinks animals are more important than humans (more fun to be around ? Yeah … most definitely, these day at least! lol) also not written by a hater of nature or better tagged someone who has no clue about anything not having to do with modern electronics in the comfort of his condo . You appreciate nature and love it while respecting the fact that animals will always be just that . Animals. They are not to be trusted . Even the most domesticated animals kill every year yet we still keep dogs in our homes as pets . Anyways thank you to the writer for not being like everyone else . I will have to find a way to follow your other writings as I’m sure they are just as exciting and well written. Again thank you for your contribution to the very important informational web and you ability to make it seem like reading a short novel while only following FACTUAL information. It’s a breathe of fresh air.
I got curious when I came across Tim and Amie’s tragic story. I find it unbelievable for such thing to happen, to be eaten alive. I feel so sorry for both of them. This article really got me reading. I easily get bored when encountered with long paragraphs but yours definitely intrigued me more. Thank you for not pursuing in publising the book, that’s so human of you and tells more about what type of person you are. Cheers to your kind heart!
You need to read the recommendations for how to make your writing ADA compliant for readers with visual impairments.
There seems to be some good information here, but with such a light print color, it is not accessible for millions of people with various visual impairments. A copy editor would have helped you clarify long run-on sentences and punctuation errors.
David Croall.. Please reach out for mental help. I'm not trying to put you down. Genuinely concerned for your well-being.
I've never read an article with so much speculation in it from an author. One guess, after another, and it goes on and on and on.
I am impressed with this article. I have recently watched Grizzly Man at the request of a friend who found I was entertaining black bears in my yard, granted it is really far out in the middle of nowhere, but i do have distant neighbors. The bears have gotten used to me, and that is dangerous, it all is. They are not Grizzly bears, rather teen age black bears who have become trusting.
I warned my neighbors of my own actions and now have a bear horn to warn those nearby. Needless to say they were pretty upset with me.
This article has brought reality close to home, and I am grateful for it. Thank you.
I would read a book by this author . Very well writtne , thank you for writing such a wild piece about a wild perosn. Poor amy i wish i could have saved her. I think we all do.
Absolutely brilliant work. I have done a lot of research on the topic and this is the best work. As someone who hunts bear, the details of this story are beyond chilling. Your right,this as a Hollywood film would be epic! Thankyou for your efforts getting the story right
Read this article entire and thought it was well written, and also fair. You don't skimp on the tough issues either. Bravo and I'd love to read other things you've written/researched.
When I found out about this case I was wondering if there will be someday a truth - revealing moment in this case. I forgot about it years ago and came here unintentionally. Best way of starting new week! Without discussion. Nice writing, straight facts and author’s feelings and opinions later also on point. It’s seems obvious that author know what he’s talking about.
Thanks for the informative article!
That said, you’ve overlooked the possibility that Tim died because he was gay and that the bear was a homophobe.
Do you know if there was a strap-on found in the tent supplies? I suspect that Amy was giving Tim a good old pegging the night that grumpy old bear happened upon them. And being a bear of a older generation, it was offended by the display of foreign, carnal rogering.
I long for the day in which wild animals, such as bears, will stop judging with their homophobia.
Ps: Bears in a gay bar are not the same as wild bears in Alaska!
Basic writing great so u wrote an article but wont write a book? Ever think the money could go to conservation? Better yet educating people on what tim did wrong with his own story? Money doesnt have to go in your bank account mr. author. Now my take. Tim was a poser a phony sure not what he wanted to be but thats what he became. Tim exposed the bears appearing on tv may have even given hunters all over america the idea to hunt the 160 bears the PS allows to be killed in katmi and kodiak. In fact im sure hunters got the idea from him as permitting increased unfortunetly he has popularizied the area to the world. If tim loved nature so much why did he not live in alaska year round?seems like he needed society needs like the rest of us. Alaska is tough living bears are tough tim wasnt needing the comforts of malibu. How could a genuine naturalist move in such extremes? The way he curses society and material things makes one wonder malibu? Tim honored nobody in life but the bears i have never heard him on tape speak of anyone but himself. Doesnt give anyone credit girlsfriends family anybody just tim and his bandanas. He lived off canned packed food while his bears foraged to stay alive wanted people to believe he was alone when he was not. So eating chef boy r dee wearing his oakley sunglasses and north face garb along with 3k dollar camera his satallite phone i mean i just dont no? And i cannot believe not one person has mentioned u dont store food right next to your tent no comments about his bear containers please it doesnt matter! In fact tim would shit just how aware those bears were of his stash should have been up in tree with a rope at least 50 yards from his campsite. I no he hiding from PS and reason why he probably didnt. Aimee wasnt afraid the best i can tell in the one shot she appears in i think two things she was obviously trying to stay out of tims shot and was trying not to look the bear in the eyes she was hiding her face from the bear i see aimee trying to bond and gain acceptance from tim im that shot. Well after bashing tim a bit i'll say i love the guy see alot of myself in him. I was in alaska same time he was people in town asked me if i came here to pull a treadwell so he was definately known. And if your in Healy they ask or say dont pull a chris macanless. Screw them. Lastly some may say whats up with me? U bash the guy and say u love him? Yup it was easy writing this knowing tim would want u to write what u feel. One last thing that made me laugh about the author who on this planet told you firearms weren't allowed in katmai? Son u obviously ain't never been to Alaska cause your dead wrong dead dead dead wrong u can carry a gun. I mean thats a real jem guess i broke the rules guy but im alive and kicking.
Tim was delusional. Thinking wild animals were his best friends. He mightve still alived had he stayed inside the tent when the bear was approaching, unfortunately his delusion cost the lives of 1 woman and 3 bears.
Raised in the Rockies, surrounded by all wildlife, taught at an early age, never let your guard down and they are not your friends or pets. You respect their world and them. He caused his own death & hers. Camping where they did, not following advice. Mother Nature and all that lives in her world is a force to be reckoned with. He let fame go to his head, risk taking.
I read this whole thing. By far the best written article I have read in a long time. You did an amazing job. My Dad would have liked to have read it. I never saw the movie, nor will I. Movies or even documentaries have things added that are not fact.
I will keep you in my prayers that your mind & dreams find peace. I have lived through horrors of nature that will forever walk in my dreams.
Be safe, be true to you, enjoy your journey. Remember a cover is nice but a cover is not the book..
You did a well written report and most of us appreciate it. Sorry for my poor English but I disagree about the audio tape that is in YouTube. I think that those two minutes (of six) are part of the real audio. Of this two minutes, the final sound has been looped.(screaming). That Sony camera has two mics, one in the camera and another remote mic on Treadwell jacket. Is the reason why we can hear drops of rain on the tent, wind through the treetops, bear growling and bones cracking or fracturing. Certainly a horrible way of dying, Amy was brave no doubt about it. I hope that the Park Service has more strict rules since then. Thank you for your investigation.
This was a good read. Very thorough and informative. Thank you for all of the time and effort you undoubtedly put into writing this.
He was a nice guy. I met him when he was a lifeguard at Lake Ronkonkoma on Long Island, N.Y.
I wish he took the rifle which was offered to him by the guy who dropped off supplies via sea plane. God rest his soul and his girlfriend too.
This was excellent. Apparently, Tim never read the data on nighttime bear attacks. Despite his cavalier approach to the bears, he knew they could kill him, and at one point in Grizzly Man, you hear him say how terrified he was of being attacked by a bear. He probably had a de-ja-vu feeling of inevitability. I bet he was deeply regretful, too, of not having at least some bear spray.
Is there any pictures of the aftermath? Not the bodies, but just the torn-up camp and things like that etc...Also, has anyone went back to the site? I haven't found anything online but just curious if anyone took a little trip out there to take pictures or video and see what's changed.
Thank you for the great work here.
This is by far the best summary of the events, all of the others articles and videos are biased either in support or againts, but yours is impartial, you wrote this soo well it feels as if you're telling me this yourself in person, and i could tell that your reserch was extensive, You write so beautifully, i want to read a novel of yours, it could be about how cows are the true evil behind mcdonalds icecream machine not working and i would still EAT IT UP
The conclusion to this tragic story is the fact, that if Timothy didn’t interfere with nature, him, his girlfriend Amie and those beautiful bears he loved so much would still be alive today. Im so sorry?? Please leave nature alone. LOVE ?? I LOVE ?? NATURE ??
I just wanted to say that you did an amazing job. I don't even remember what it was I was looking up on google when I came across your story. I wish that all journalists and all news stories could be/were written as precise and unbiased as you wrote this. Than You!!
What a heartbreaking tragedy. Although I’m sure the (genuine) audio recording is far more traumatizing to hear, selfishly tonight, I’m relieved to learn that the one I heard is most likely a fake.
I watched the grizzly man documentary and within the first few minutes, I was sure this young man was battling with some mental deficiencies. It seemed so obvious to me. If he wasn’t born intellectually challenged, perhaps he was psychologically traumatized by events of his past. I’m not sure the cause or timeline, but it seemed rather obvious to me that this guy wasn’t playing with a full deck.
Why did he tell park rangers he had no living relatives? Why did he lie about his family upbringing? Why did he change his last name? Why did he seem so blatantly gay or bi-sexual while being adamant that he wasn’t? Maybe we should be focusing more on trying to unravel the mysteries of what psychological damage happened to Timothy earlier in his life to make him react by living with and baby-talking to 1000 grizzly bears?
Thank you for writing and sharing this amazing article. I found it very interesting and very well explained. The events are truly shocking and serves as a reminder that wildlife needs to be respected and given its space from human interaction.
i first came across the audio recording on youtube, questioning its authenticity i decided to google what happened. this website was the first result so i clicked it, read it & i’m glad i did. no wild conspiracy theories, no fake audio, just FACTS. i learned everything i needed to know about what happened, plus i’ve gained a few tips on what not to do in bear encounters. i really hope that some good will come out of this tragedy. let’s respect the bears by leaving them their space & staying in our own. as much as i would love to feed a bear & show them affection, i know that in doing so i could inadvertently harm the bear, or a human. just yesterday a bear was euthanized because he started showing bold, dangerous behavior towards humans. the reason? because he had been given food rewards from humans on multiple occasions.
I found this name early with a small description of what happened while watching some videos
about “into the wild”, I decided to look further into it. Your article is absolutely amazing, you
show both sides of thought without being bias. You’re still able to be show honesty and
empathy. Thank you for the new knowledge, and the time you put in.
1st Off- Kudos to whomever wrote this- you did a truly bang up job of being objectively critical of a difficult story because of all the publicity already surrounding it. But in my opinion, you could have been quite a bit harsher of Idiot Treadwell. I'm truly sick of hearing about fucktards like him being cited as "Brave" and "Magical" and all the other cockswallop bandied about . The plain truth is he was the Village Idiot, left without adult supervision, with predictable results. A truly BRAVE Man is one who faces Danger that MUST be Faced, and does so with Courage, overcoming his natural Fear, to do a job that must be done. Treadwell was, and did, none of these. He was as useless as tits on a Bar hog, and his legacy is fitting- He ended as Bear Shit. Lol. And YES, I'm LOL'ing at him,because he is absolutely worthy and deserving of ridicule. He was a Clown, and a Fool, and at BEST, perhaps genuinely Learning Disabled. But I don't really think so, I think he was just the Average, Common Ass, Garden Variety Insanely ARROGANT, Narcissistic Human Privileged American- Dangerously Clueless, all the while THINKING He actually has a Clue, when everyone around him KNOWS he Truly does not know the difference between Shit and Shine-ola. Not to mention he ended up being responsible for several innocent Bears being killed, who would have likely never been SHOT if Idiot Treadwell had not offered himself as a MEAL, as he did. Nope, No Sympathy for HIM. I agree about his GF, tho, it's a shame someones genuine and innocent Affection was used to place her in such insane Danger. MEN are supposed to, since Time Immemorial, PROTECT Those in Our Charge from EXACTLY THIS KIND OF DANGER.
One day, someone will verify that they've watched most of the still available footage. Some have said that they've seen a good deal and couldn't help but notice that the late Mr. Treadwell's gals' presence on film is rather insignificant, leaving them to conclude that he was not so much interested in bears but instead himself (i.e., was all about him and not the bears).
Next, re those coyotes following you, once had occasion to live on a farm/ranch with my one aunt/uncle/cousins. Had a sheep herd. One late afternoon, after bringing them in, was discovered that the one rather young lamb had a piece of its neck missing owing to coyote attack. Will never forget the red spray. My very own silence of the lamb(s) well before the film. Have had zero use for coyotes ever since (the occasional now and again reports of one trying to wander off with someone's child hasn't helped).
Oh, and for "nature", can find the critters in the Hollywood hills. Leave the party, going to your car, and there one is. Vermin. More or less. Living by eating our garbage, with the occasional attempt at a child thrown in. Nothing that something as small as a .22 can't solve, however. Thank Deity for small miracles.
Next, someone here or elsewhere mentioned the differing perception and treament between Gentle Ben and rattlesnakes, as in, why. The reason for differing treatment is that the latter just look evil (and caused the fall of humanity in the garden)(been slithering about the landscape ever since)(well, at least those on land). Same farm/ranch, and eldest cousin went out on horseback alone. A scream. Had rounded a corner, surprised a rattler, rattles, scares horse, rears, she is thrown off back, concussion and also temporary blindness for about six days. Have no love for rattlers either. For more small miracles, re our slithering air tasting friends, Deity's grace that I don't live in Australia (poisonous snakes HQ).
Now back to the article, the absolutely unforgivable was no bear spray. And don't understand, at all, the play dead, since if unable to discern female or male, and even if they could, these were brown and not black bears, so any cubs won't be safe up in the tree, meaning mom is going to eliminate any perceived threat by finishing you off, and then back to her cubs (brown bear likely leaves back to her cubs as soon as no perceived threat, so with mom black bear, by all means, play dead if you can't slowly back away.
Next, you are rather likely right in the one respect. No call stimulating upcoming doom for Amie. How many times have each of seen a dog take the food and go away a short distance, where it feels safer? So if she did attempt to follow...need to preserve that meal. Cue her trying to use the tents to create separation when the bear comes after her.
Lastly, for the well and truly discomforting part, your report of fractured canine teeth and some others ground down, so perhaps took the bear longer to kill them (owing to less efficient bites)(or maybe they both got lucky)(maybe that bear had a fondness for carotid or femoral artery).
For an almost forgot, don't know how much is born with versus the TV and film, but slap the child's hand when he or she reaches out to touch someone's dog. Just hold your arm out, far enough away that the dog will need to take a step forward to smell you, and when that happens, if some licking and/or tail wagging, then you can pet, but if barking or angry/aggressive, move your arm back to your side and move away, and never ever grab any animal around the neck, not ever, you understand that? Cute doesn't mean that it won't cause you pain.
The article needed a copy editor, but was otherwise superb. To me, it highlights the increasing anthropomorphizing of "Mother Nature," to me a beautiful, mysterious, alluring, indifferent, heartless bitch who quite rightly could not care less whether we or any other organism lives or dies.
No sympathy for Treadwell or his squeeze, both of whom were stereotypical brainless Californians who did much more harm than good by portraying wild animals as our pals. Their behavior was extreme but hardly unique, to judge by the steady trickle of similar incidents elsewhere.
I am a retired journalist who wrote kimgtragedy.info, which tells the tale of James Kim, a technical writer who, in 2006, ignored a series of warnings and common sense on the way to getting himself killed in the remote forest of SW Oregon, endangering his equally brainless wife and their two children who were rescued in the nick of time.
There are commonalities in the two stories: negligence to the point of recklessness, and -- oddly enough -- a selfish lack of respect for "Mother Nature" who sat by as people sucked in by too many Yogi Bear and Bambi cartoons, accentuated by over-the-top "environmentalist" romanticization of the Outback ignore the realities.
Only after humans largely conquer Ma Nature, or at least adapt to it and bend it to suit our needs and tastes, do we take the stupidly romantic view, to the point where tourists in Yellowstone try to pet the bison, only to learn the hard way that a 1,500-pound wild animal might not want to be petted.
I have to wonder: Why grizzlies? Why not rattlesnakes?
Timothy was just a depressed man with crazy thoughts and actions about wildlife. Of course he was bisexual. But maybe he had a big ding dong which amey enjoyed so she stayed with him till her death. After all men captivate us women with that magnificent staff of love. We go crazy and can't think straight.
This is the best article I have found on the tragedy of Treadwell and his girlfriend. I like that the author is objective and unbias. I struggle, though, to wonder how was "Bart, the stunt bear" raised and trained by Mr. Sues(sp) able to never injure anybody who came into his beautiful path and star along side of Hollywood's A listers and be literally a 1000 pound teddy bear in real life? If you watch documentaries on Bart, he was actually considered a brilliant "actor." Props to trainer Mr. Seus, but after reading this article, I would have to say that more credit for these large feats of acting and creating believable scenes of violent fights successfully and in always leaving every make-believe fight contestant, remarkably unscathed! Now, Bart's owners and trainer had this gentle giant since he was just months old and sadly he died of cancer around age 20, but how could this happen? It seems to be more than just pure luck. Was it mainly due to being orphaned so young? Why did the bear's preditory instinct never take over and why is this owner still given two more cubs to rear and train while Treadwell is heavily criticized for doing far less harm, it seems WHILE he is alive. I agree that after his death he is to blame for the two subsequent bear's deaths but it seems that something is going on here that raises questions. I read that Bart II one of Seus's grizzly cubs as another movie trained male adult bear...and one can say that luck was the reason Bart never harmed a soul but if it was, in fact, sheer luck as to why Bart never harmed a soul then why, too are Bart II and his sister still running the course of their now adult lives with the same statistics?
Also, who is the author of this great piece of literature, "The Night of the Living Bear"? I already have a lot of respect for you in your objectivity (I have a degree in English with a teaching minor in Writing) and this article is powerful, and does not attack Treadwell like many people who could not stay away from there opinions. In the movie "Grizzly Man", I think it is rude and disrespectful when the man (I think a pilot if some sort, but not Willy) who says, "He (Treadwell) got what he deserved." What a red neck a#$ who, although had his views refused to state the other's views with a shred of dignity even, at least for saying Treadwell did love these bear's but was, sadly, misinformed perhaps from having no formal education or training on these majestic beings.
That said, I want to know who the author of the above article is. I like how you are modest and state that you partly wrote the article to defer others from profiting from these two the couple's deaths. That speaks volumes yet give yourself some credit for a remarkable work. Also, with this article penned by "Administrator" this limits the help you can be for those of us who wish to continue to learn more about (and learn from) this sad event. I would think twice from just sending this as a letter to Alaska Parks and Recreation Admin for fear I wouldn't get the intelligent and unbiased author, rather that my letter and others and future letters penned by prospective park employees or bear enthusiasts wishing to be the next Mr. Seus or Mr. Treadwell (at heart but with an educated mind) anyway, I would perhaps refrain from mailing this letter in search of seeking the experienced insightful author (name unknown) as it's recipient but,dreadfully, falling in the red neck ignorant hands of the pilot man who said outloud in a movie without much hesitation, that Treadwell got what he deserved. That's why it's also important that the world know who wrote this article. Who are you? I've searched online in hopes of finding out who wrote such a powerful article...to no avail. That also weakens the piece just a bit (I am reluctant to say) but it's the truth. How can others properly cite your article and moreso, with it basically being as close to anonymous as any, how can we use your powerful undying words and say they are from an expert? Clearly the author is an expert as many educated readers may surmise but how do we know this and if we don't clearly know this,the article is weakened a bit. As modest as the author clearly is, I feel the author can spare some of (his?) modesty and still achieve this modestly by plainly, just once under the title, state your name.
Perhaps it isn't too late and all of us can attain satisfaction in knowing who penned such a strongy narrated article.
Perhaps the author didn't want letters addressed to (him?) for years to come...but like you said of how nightmares are a price you paid for being too close wouldn't this be less of a nightmare in possibly preventing future mishaps like the Treadwell travesty from happening through education and by reading and responding to an audience that knows you won't be a jerk or take them too lightly.
Thank you, regardless. I am sure a select few know who wrote the above piece. I probably would have mailed this letter and anxiously waited for your reply had I, in fact, known who to properly address this to. I think the article is good enough to be in libraries ...but without an author, sadly, it likely won't be taken as seriously as it should have. Indeed.
Great article. Humans are incredibly fragile. We might be a superior species but only because of our brain, not our braun. Yes the death was gruesome but not out of the ordinary gor the wild. This is WILDlife and is to be met with only extreme respect. Anything else is foolish. Bears have instincts like humans. In this case, the humans should have continued their exit plan and listened to theirs but foolishy they didnt. He was trying to prove that bears are not monsters which they are not but they will eat when hungry and just about anything in site is on the menu. Good on this guy gor doing what he wanted but a damn fool to ever think it wouldnt end this way. He tested fate 1 too many times. I think in his mind he was doing things for the greater good so his intent was pure. Meanwhile back in reality he was conditioning bears not to be afraid of humans in their area and in turn 4 deaths resulted. I doubt he would have wanted to see a bear killed but his actions alone created that chaos.
In my opinion, Tim accomplished his mission. He committed suicide by bear. Its a shame however, that Amy died in the process too. This event did raise my awareness about the dangers of people coexisting with bears and bear behavior. Ive camped many nights in bear country and I never carried bear spray. That will not happen again. As for the recording, I believe its real. I just believe it has been edited. Jewel was not the only one to have a copy. As far as inconsistencies with sound and distance. Keep in mind Tim had a microphone on his hip pocket. I also believe it was edited out of respect for Amy. This is more, a story of Tim committing suicide. The tragedy is Tim took Amy with him. I take it they never really discussed what Amy should do if Tim was attacked by a bear. As soon as that bear started dragging him off as a food source. Amy should have ran in the opposite direction. I am sad for Amy. She never should have died that way.
Thank you for this great article.
Don’t mess with bears.
As a person who grew up in Calgary, we are taught from an early age that bears are not your friends. Yes, the cubs are so cute but not your friends.
We learned to live with the bears and respect their presence and we never had any serious issues. I do remember one time in late fall, my uncle taking the trash cans out to the road in the back of the truck armed with a shotgun as the bears had a food shortage and would attack trash cans.
This guy just annoys me. Calling himself a ‘gentle warrior’ and baby talking to them. How ridiculous. He was no warrior. He was a fool who paid for his idiocy with his life.
Bears are beautiful wild animals. Leave them be. Do not feed them. Do not approach them. Admire from a safe distance and be respectful. Don’t mess with bears.
I recall watching "Grizzly Man" years ago and the photography was beautiful. But Treadwell was a fool. All he did was acclimate wild animals to human beings, putting humans and wild life in more danger. Why anyone would want to listen to the tape of his being killed I will never understand. I truly understand human fascination with wild life. But after several trips to Yellowstone and watching how stupid tourists are around the bison, trying to pet them, climb on them or place their children on them, one has to wonder. What in the hell are they thinking? What in the hell was Treadwell thinking. He was incredibly lucky for 13 years and his luck ran out due to his reckless behavior. And sadly his girlfriend lost her life too hanging out with a fool.
Great article on a harrowing reminder to respect nature. Obviously what Timothy did was wrong for both himself, Amie, and bears, but unlike a lot of the reviews here I can't find myself laying the blame on him. I feel that in his head, he was helping, and he wasn't putting Amie in danger.
It's almost more a a tale of how someone can be so beaten and bruised in life that they have to push all the painful and human choices they have made away. Ignoring and shunning the more aggressive and confrontational side of humanity and falling back on a kind of Disney perception of right and wrong. Saying that, I feel that Timothy was always a submissive person by nature, a 'patsy' as he says. Nothing wrong with that, but perhaps he was always disappointed that he wasn't more of an action hero, and deliberately put himself in dangerous situations to prove that idea wrong. Who knows, all I can defiantly say is that he was very childlike, and obviously wanted to stay in a protected, child-like world.
But let's face it, no one deserves the kind of tormented life or death Timothy endured. Nature is cruel.
I can't speak for Amie other then her utterly heroic feat, I mean fuck, Leonidas would have shed a tear. What a girl. Hopefully the end was quick. RIP both.
The thing that really stands out to me, on top of everything else, is that he (TT) had no back up plan. No gun, I know, not permitted in national parks at the time. Buuut...this is America, no bear spray, no heavy tools, nothing. That's hubris beyond arrogance to my mind. As for Aimee, she was educated, probably intelligent, and perhaps successful in her field, but those factors have never precluded naivete. She trusted TT, against her own instincts towards the end, and sadly paid the ultimate price.
Great article about a sad and fascinating event.
Double Darwin Awards right there ?
I am SO glad I found this article again, so many years later! Took some digging. I never forgot it since I first read it over 15 yrs ago - everything you wrote, in such detail, is sanely deductive, intelligent, thoughtful & totally haunting. Also love the light touches of humor here & there, "at a good clip", haha!, also NOT romanticizing this poor deluded child-man, who simply exchanged one addiction for another and really did far more harm than any good, & had clearly degenerated at the end, basically guaranteeing his horrid death (and poor Aimee's). An excellent, top-notch job, bravo & thank you!
I think Timothy did some positive things for the wildlife, especially the bears by traveling around and speaking to schoolkids about them and speaking about them in a positive way albeit not 100% accurate but generalnly in a good way.
I too think that many of the bears in his videos were extremely close to attacking him and I find it odd he didn't pick up on this while editting his videos at the very least. Maybe it was willful ignorance but having so many close calls leads me to think that although he didn't intentionally cause Amie's death he certainly contributed to it and failed to protect her from the bears.
If TT were still alive I believe he would want us all to focus on the extremely threatened polar bears and to help them survive after man has melted the sea ice that the bears use to catch their prey, seals. The world needs to quit studying gas bubbles in Antarctic ice and redirect those funds to lead a manmade effort that involves transporting protein from beef or pork to the Arctic homes of the majestic polar bears. Commercial aircraft fly over the polar bear habitat so chartered planes (or ships) could drop animal carcuses over the region until we can figure out how to cool our planet down to re-form the sea ice.
Polar bears will become extinct if we fail to act. THE POLAR BEARS THANK YOU.
"Come out here, I'm being killed!!!"...Me thinks if you cared for the person you were with would be, "RUN LIKE HELL!!"
But there was really no where to run....if she'd curled up in the tent and remained silent, the stench of the fag's carcass would have drawn other bears.
Complete Cali airheads...nature loves us?...no, nature is only the strong survive....
I find it curious that the author cites Aimee as TT's lover?...that cat was only a few clicks away from wearing a dress....lol
Thanks so much for this detailed article which sheds so much light on this tragedy.
A sober recount of what might have happened. I watched the doc. I thought borderline schizophrenia and a narcissistic disorder. Very possibly gay. He really tries to be a nice guy, but at any point fails to convince me that he actually was a nice guy.
Can park laws be made stricter in order to protect wildlife from troubled individuals?
I have read a whole bunch of articles on Tim and Amie's attack and death and in my humble opinion, I feel this is the closest to the truth there is. I like the fact that the author of this article has a strong background in brown bears/grizzlies and spent a lot of time with them as Tim did because I feel that gives not just an objective opinion, but an educated one (both in textbooks and by firsthand). The one thing I would like to know more about is why did Tim say he had no family. That must have hurt his family something awful.
Part of the reason people like him start to get this romantic view of nature is because it is over-romanticized in much of popular culture, especially documentaries. I mean, sure, it's great but all animals-including humans-are the result of millions of years of a brutal and cold struggle.
Just watch videos uploaded by regular people of hyenas and wild dogs hunting prey in Africa. It's extremely ruthless. There is nothing majestic or beautiful about it. Now think about the fact that up till the end of the last Ice Age, most of the world was filled with even more ferocious and massive beasts than currently exist. Anything that made it past that wild hell would have to have been incredibly tough.
We lived through those times and it probably explains why we humans are as violent as we are. But we've experienced a slow process of domestication via civilization, something that animals like bears and big cats have not. Anyone who wants to be in the proximity of wild animals must understand that or end up like TT.
I've read just about everything about this incident and it really just sums up to a delusional man with "no family", claiming to protect bears, gets himself killed and his gf and two bears because he doesn't understand nor respects wild life. Am I the only one who thinks releasing the tape would probably help discourage other lunatics? Sorry Jewel Palovak, but tis seems more like censorship than respect..
Excellent article about Timothy Treadwell. I saw the "Grizzly Man" movie last year, so I knew nothing about his life or death. Timothy seemed like a very misguided man, thinking that this was his life mission, totally detached from society. He was very passionate about bears, but lacked in common sense and healthy fear of wild animals. Sadly his actions caused his death and Amie his girlfriend. Hopefully this will serve as reminder to others that want to do this kind of work to listen to those who have been around such creatures and to use precaution when in their presence. Very sad ending to their lives. RIP Timothy and Amie
how interesting and very thorough. i appreciate that you presented the facts and then concluded with your own own reflections.
reading this has indeed discouraged me from accessing online videos or books published early on about this case.
I actually appreciate this clearing up the fake audio as i nearly made a fool of myself alluding to it being real merely because I had fooled myself by so many repeat occurrences of the footage followed by others claiming it to be real, who were either intentionally perpetuating the hoax or just others fooled like me. But I was originally skeptical. And what you said about bears being silent during attacks reminded me of why I was skeptical. When you hear the bears roar they are clearly closer to the camera than the screaming indicating a poor audio dubbing As i was increasingly fooled by repeats of the footage, I started to renounce my skepticism a little by saying maybe a second bear was wandering close to the camera as the other bear ate him because there are somewhat more distant roars in the footage too. But also, it sounds like the woman and man are about the same distance from the microphone, which you COULD argue that the man and woman HAPPENED to be positioned in a triangular position an equal distance from the camera. But a man and woman doing a coordinated effort one a single microphone they are both within similar proximity to seems more likely than the woman being just as far from the camera as he is. After all, someone hit record on the camera. Why would she as far away from it as he is? I’m gonna give it another listen now that you cleared this out, and put more focus into my original skepticism about the distances from the microphone to see what else i notice. Thanks for confirming my doubts.
Tim got what he deserved. He assumed the risk of putting himself in the worst possible situation (hungry bears already late to start hibernating for the winter and scarce food to be found). Darn shame that he also placed Amie directly in harms way. To make this guy out to be a true conservationist is an insult to those knowledgeable rangers, hunters, sportsmen, etc... that understand that these bears are wild animals that cannot be truly humanly domesticated and trusted as by there very nature have animal instincts that will ultimately prevail. Sadly, Ammie trusted and was with an idiot California nut that got what he deserved. That bear ate the finger that he flips off the rest of society with in his so called documentary.
Great article with new perspectives.
Sad end of an extraordinary man and his love.
I truly believe if there were more Treadwells this world would have been a better place for humans and animals.
His fate reminds me a little bit of Steve Irwin's death. Caused by animals.
All I wanted to do is listen to the six minute audio of Mr. Treadwell being eaten alive. I had to wade through this entire article only to find there’s no link to an audio file.
Good writing of the events, if Tim would of keep a 44mag for just this kind of event he and his friend would still be here, not having a backup plan was his down fall, hope is not a plan.
Live by the sword.
Die by the sword.
Nice read...I've seen a sasquatch twice in broad day light...once as close to me as he was to these bears and second time 1/4 a mile off in a confrontation with a brown bear over a dead elk...even the squatch backed away and was smart enough to leave it alone...even though it was taller than the bear that reared up on it's hind legs...this was b4 cell phones...1991
I respect the man. He did what he believe. He loved nature. But fail to study, learn,about their ways, Behaviors,thats a must before Confronting the objects. He's a great lost.
1. He out stayed his welcome.
2. In the mammal world. The young gets to the age where, they will Challenge the older, leaders for Authority if he beaten he kick out the Clan. In some cases it's a fight to the death. He was a Threat, he never made any physical Contact with them, thats call acceptance. He was an outsider. A threat to the males. Alpha, rule many Ignores that. I learn that.
There were a lot of questions in my head.thanks to this article im clear.the only question i have is what really happened to Amy?why she die?
Very informative and interesting! This gives a more in depth look onto Tim, Amie, and the incident. You also have quite a few sources, but what I'm really interested in is the incident report by Joel Ellis. Can that be found online?
I wonder, is it possible that Amie wasn't killed by the bear? The ranger stated that she looked "as though she were peacefully asleep". Maybe she had had a heart attack or something and the bears only ate her dead body afterwards. I hope it was just so.
In seeing the documentary and reading a lot about TT, it was obvious he had some serious mental issues. I would wager he was tormented w sexuality issues, and couldn't come out of the closet. He goes on and on about "wishing he was gay", as "it would be so much easier"...anyone watching the doc and watching and listening to him had to be thinking, "who are you kidding? You ARE gay". I think initially he turned to heavy drugs to ease his pain w living life in the closet, and then, he turned to Wild Alaska, where he had no boundaries, labels, etc.
His severe misstep was staying longer than usual that last summer. Makes total sense that he got GOT by an older bear that had come into the Maze after the younger, stronger bears, had had their fill of food and headed in to hibernate.
I will say Kudos to Treadwell for living the life that he wanted to live...by his terms (illegal or otherwise), and also going out on his own terms.
I will also say shame on him, for dragging Aimee into it (her fault too, no doubt), and adding three extra bodies to the death toll (TT + (Aimee + 2 other bears)).
Because of his disregard and disrespect for mother nature, 2 bears were killed just so ppl could investigate the "murder" scene. Shouldn't have to work that way.
Minor fact but this attacked happened at 1:58PM Alaska Time.. Overcast due to the nasty weather. Many people trash Timothy, but he did things for 13 years, up close and personal,,but, the law of averages catches up to you..Why he didn't use a simple battery Bear cage around his tent or especially 'Counter Assault Bear Spray' I will never understand..Some of these ass-whips say he deserved it,,Nobody deserves to be eaten alive,, even when he was wrong.
Go Packers, Fu*k the bears.
Look at how many idiots get killed driving drunk? I used to be a cop and Tim lived in my sector. I never arrested him for drunk driving.
We all do stupid things at times. Tim was a lot more adventurous.
Before I became a cop, in 1972 some idiot pulled a gun on me on Ipanema Beach in Rio. A greater idiot, I charged the guy.
He shot me in the chest but I still played grizzly bear, running him down and beating the crap out of him.
Stupid because I could have gotten another passport. Maybe. LOL.
Even dumber, I checked out of the hospital with the bullet resting on my aorta, went to the airport bar, had a few rum and cokes for the developing pain of the hematoma, then took a 9-hour flight to New York.
The bullet finally traveled last year and a doctor removed it during surgery on my shoulder.
Hello !I looked into a doku about a photographer from Switzerland, which has been spending a lot of time in Alasca, filming bears ... in this doku i heard about Tim and Amie and afterwards i wanted to know more ... i am thankful for your words ... and that you gave Amie "a place" in this story ... its tragic, i think she knew what was going on ... but we all know, what love has to do with it ... he has had no fear ... that is important ... to understand this ending of 2 lifes ... very sad and brutal ... but he was the only one to make choices, after regarding that special bear ... i am very sad about the death of Tim and Amie ... but i am thankful, you brought YOUR thoughts into the internet, so i can try do understand, what has happened ! Greatings from Düsseldorf
Lotta speculation in this article. All I know is anyone who beats on a bear with a frying pan has balls, no matter how long they hesitate. Wish she'd had a gun, in a reasonable caliber.
I came here since I heard the audio on youtube and wanted more insight and boy was this such a great read. Well researched and so informational in shedding light on such a tragedy that could have very well been prevented. Humans need to go into natural spaces with profound respect. And be aware that yes, in the woods, you will potentially run into the animals that live and thrive there, just like you may in the ocean. Be aware and be smart. Do not feed any wild animals, period. Again, such a great read!
I am impressed with your work. Thank you for putting so much thought and effort into this piece. I really appreciate it.
I learned a lot about bear behavior......thats what tim and amie gave us....
I couldn't see the pictures for some reason, but appreciated reading the story. High 5 to you for trying to deter people from profiting on Tim and Amie's deaths. My impression of Tim is that he himself was an impulsive adrenalin freak who was using his obsession with bears to make a profit himself. If you can't get into show biz by acting, why not pretend to be a bear expert instead? 2 humans and 2 bears died because of his actions. And everyone saw it coming except him. People do stupid things for fame, money, and greed. Tim, and those fake Utube audio's, all in the same pile! Thanks for an enlightening read! I hope your nightmares calm over time.
I don’t agree with everything said in this article but I appreciate & respect the time you put into it & that you’re a true wildlife person. I followed Tim starting in 2000 after I joined Sea Shepherd at the time. I honestly don’t think he did any harm out there. Just like any of us camping in a hostile environment. I can say without a doubt that is a Horrible way to go from all I’ve researched, I like you , hope Amie didn’t have to endure what Tim did. People who have no idea what life or death means truly will say 6 mins isn’t that long. It’s a lifetime, and even with adrenaline is slowed to a crawl. I do like the Grizzly Man movie but I feel his “friends” acted way too much to show empathy or their true feelings for Tim. When you tell someone you’re an actor & then proceed to talk about your friend using steps you learned in acting class you lose the human element. His boy was horrible & the ones close seemed staged. Not a good look. But I can say without a doubt I share Tim’s passion for wildlife, outdoors & Conservation. I didn’t choose to go into conservation, other idiot humans forced me into it by their actions. I would have spent as many seasons as I could with him out there. But I definitely would have had a firearm with me, just for protection. I give him a lot of respect for going into Alaska with none. Rest Easy Tim & Amie.
In the last paragraph of the "Discovery and Investigation" section, you mention that investigators performed a necropsy on the bear on Friday, October 8. How can that be when Treadwell and Amy were killed on Monday, October 6?
I was a logger on Afognak Island in the 80's and once briefly encountered a brown bear, I was terrified. I was like a living Tiger Tank traversing the forest. There is an old Pioneer story about one of the original pioneering families on Afognak, (island next to Kodiak). The Pioneer awoke in the middle of the
night to his horses screaming in the barn. When he investigated
in the light of day the barn door was torn open and one of his
1500 to 2000 pound horses had been carried off. The scariest
part of the story is that he found no front paw prints on the
retreating path of the bear. The bear had literally carried the
horse off walking on its hind legs. These animals are the most
powerful land predictor known to exist. It is sad two of the
wonderful, powerful, primitive, wild and majestic beasts
had to die because of silly California Tourists who like to
I'm not a clinical psychologist, but I've had my fair share of experience, the dude was screwed up, 1 3 minute clip of the movie can tell you a lot about how messed up this guy was, he claimed he protected the bears? His presence by virtue of deliberately placing himself in harm's way in fact caused the death of a bear that would not have otherwise happened....
A harrowing In-depth account of events. I’m struck also by the author’s sense of ethics and morality in sharing this. So rare to find these days. I’ve found some of the reviews really interesting too,
Thank you! Extremely well written and thought article. You expressed compassion and kindness beside the facts. I find it very believable and insightful! It is a shame that you did not write a book (I fully understand your reasoning and respect that tho) as it would have given people much important information and helped to prevent this happening to others. At the same time, it would been feeling wrong to receive any money from it. I truly wish that you find an another subject to write about as your writing style and reasoning is extremely good to read. Your voice is beautiful! I hope that you use it!
Although I felt the opinion was a bit harsh and too "educated" where Treadwell had just been "lucky" all of these years, I believe in nature man doesn't give enough credit to our ancestral and primate tendancies akin to a child like state of being. Animals are capable to express and behave as does any human in very similar ways. Treadwell, was incapable to discern between his "bears" previous behaviour and the one incident of a malnourished bear having a migraine, right before their monthly period ( if you know what I mean) People also behave differently during times of stress and do very messed up things.
It might have been Treadwell's child like behaviour and outlook that allowed him to be accepted within the wild as opposed to most humans looking at animals as food or another low life form.
Whew. I got my words out but I wanted to say. I enjoyed your writing, research, and opinion and very much think you should write your book. It is not benefiting from death, but rather valuing life. Your words and story help others even though it would include lessons from others.
thank you for your story.
Interesting, well done and terrifying article.
Very sad too, and we can learn many lessons from these deaths, but one seems more relevant: bears are killers, not cute animals. Do nothing but stay away from the bears. For your own good.
What I don't understand about this article is why would anyone be mystified with this tragedy. For starters, this particular bear was unfriendly. Not only that, but it's a known fact that hunger will agitate any living species. I've even known humans to get very angry when they are hungry, including myself. So it makes sense that this bear was fed up with being hungry, got desperate, and was willing to eat anything. Including two humans. Sadly, I don't think there was anything Tim or Amy could have done at this point. This bear was desperate for food and they were it. My next point is about people posting about which type of mental illness Tim had. And from what I read, no one has a degree in this field or even a related one. But what I do know, is about my own experience working in the field of criminology and psychology. And I feel there is not enough information to make any such diagnosis. But from what I observed, is that Tim had an addictive behavior. First, it was drugs and alcohol, and it nearly killed him until he "kicked" the habit. Then he went on to bears, a new "habit" which he didn't think would be just as deadly. Another observation is the clips of him on TV. I noticed that he was very arrogant. He claimed he wouldn't die by "paws" and "claws." Famous last words if you ask me. And he said he can f'ing survive the grizzly maze, but the rest of us couldn't. So it was clear that he did have mental health issues, to say the least. But it's still not enough to make a diagnosis without professional guidance. Not only that, but there are clues hidden in his childhood. Signs that he had grown up in a dysfunctional family. His drinking and acting out by "bashing" a car indicates such. Also, his constant abuse of drugs and alcohol. Many teens and adults do this to try to escape the pain. What's also interesting is his relationship with his parents. And there could be a number of explanations for this one. For starters, he changed his last name to his mother's maiden name. This could indicate that he was closer to her than his dad. Or he could have done this out of fear, thus wanting to please her. Who knows? What's just as interesting is what happened after he died. He left his parents nearly nothing, which also could indicate his distant relationship with both of them. Again, it would have to take in-depth research to reveal exactly what his mental health issue was. Until then, I bet there is a lot more to be uncovered.
In the book, it was 1 oz. shotgun slugs that killed the bear. Dead within 15 seconds.
Some have interjected with their own imagination inventing that high velocity or 3 1/2" were used. You will hear a thousand opinions on gun forums.
If you do the basic math, the physcis dictates the shorgun is a poor man's elephant gun. a 1" projectile traveling at least 1.560 feet per second would down a T-Rex at close range! No fancy slug, any 1 oz. deer slugs beats the highest power rifle at close range, and this is precisely why the rangers use 12 guage with slugs. They simply work bt far best, by far.
Hi Mr. Sanders,
Thank you for the thorough research and analysis. I just watched the second documentary (Herzog's), and it was quite disturbing. Your analysis helped greatly, thanks again.
On a separate note, I saw that you worked at Yellowstone, and wanted to mention that my Father, Wayne, rode out with Dave Phillips MANY years ago (after college) before going off to medical school (Dave Phillips became a Park Ranger). He was quite sad to hear of Dave's passing - he learned of it in 2014. If you knew Dave, my Father's email address: [email protected].
Thanks again for your work,
Tim Treadwell was an idiot and a mentally ill man child who as a grown man still felt the adolescent urge to defy authority. Defiance and disregard for orders from supeiors seems to have been as much fun for him as çourting death with man eaters. He broke every rule simply because he actually believed he knew better than the Rangers who work that territory every day. That makes him about the stupidest man I've ever heard of. Watching him in that movie convinces me that he had the emotional and intellectual brain of a child...near retarded for his age. The one rule he should have broken but ironically never did was not to be armed. I wouldn't willingly go within 10 miles of that many half ton predators without at least a .45 preferably a double barreled shotgun as well. I will never consider a competing predator at the top of the food chain my friend and I will defend my place at the very top of the food chain instantly and with deadly force. Our only advantage and the whole reason we occupy the top is our tool making ability. Only a damned fool faces man eaters unarmed and the park service is crazy to ask anyone to do so, the bears be damned. Not all the bears on earth are worth 1 human...even a stupid human like Tim.
Dear Bear Man;
Excellent analysis, at least from my experiences with bears. I’m an engineer & pilot in the energy sector. I often work in remote areas hence I’ve had my fair share of bear encounters. My rule is simple (& probably accurate), “to a bear, virtually everything organic is food”. When I encounter a bear I instantly & CALMLY get a weapon ready & look for the safest route away from the bear as I’m evaluating the bear’s behaviour. I believe your comment about Treadwell giving bears anthropomorphic qualities is 100% accurate. My horses have taught me much about the body language of animals. Apparently my horses can hear a heartbeat from x distance. I’m sure the same is true of most animals hence remaining calm is probably a good idea. Remaining calm will probably prevent the animal’s predatory instincts from being triggered. I think thats what helped Treadwell’s LUCK, he stayed calm.
I have no respect for Treadwell. I feel as you do, he did much more damage than good for the bears he was “studying”. After learning a little about Treadwell, I thought “what one word best describes him”. The word “WANNABE” pops into my head. I think Treadwell wanted to be anything but Treadwell.
Treadwell (like all radical environmentalists) may not have suffered from a low IQ but he was highly naive, extremely selfish with a big ego.
In closing; we’re all going to meet the same ultimate fate, we will die. We all hope when our time comes that it will be peaceful. If you have the bad luck of being eaten by an animal just remember, 90% of the time you’re still alive as they start to eat you! So don’t get cocky & don’t be naive & think “that will never happen to me”.
Excellent research and writing conducted ethically with hardened integrity.
I watched the docu and it was very engrossing. Timothy clearly wanted to be portrade as a misunderstood conservationist. Very, very sad. I think he was a severely mentally ill individual with a major death wish. It's very clear in his videos he was screaming out to be loved. Telling his closest friends the bears and fox he loved them. In his imagination he heard them respond 'I love you too, Timothy.' He seems a man who felt betrayed the people who meant the most to him and his stubborn pride made him seek out love and acceptance from a source that wouldn't judge him. It saddens me he ran with such a foolish group of people that clearly didn't care on bit for him. As a mother of a wonderful son who's had his own issues...where was his mother in his extreme time of need? Why weren't you there for him???
Bears are wild killers. I would never put myself in their way, just as I would never interact with wild/primitive humans. This reminded me of that young "missionary" who was killed by some time he delusionally wanted to convert.
I never heard of Treadwell before seeing him in some random Facebook comment on a stupid video about cute cuddly bears being just like humans. Yes they're actually a lot like people. You meet the wrong person at the wrong time and you're dead, too.
Anyway, thanks for the article! Great read.
I spent five years studying wolves in the wild in Canada in the 1980's. The biggest problem was trying to get anywhere near them. They are incredibly timid and will not allow you to see them. All my observations had to be done from a number of blinds set up near dens. They knew I was in there but as long as I didn't come out they would ignore me. If I came out, they scattered. There have been only a handful of fatal wolf attacks in the last 100 years in all of North America, and most of these involved rabid animals. You could chase a wolf off its kill and it would run away. My problem was to try to get them NOT to run away so I could watch, but, as I said, that could only happen if they couldn't see me.
None of this can be said for grizzly bears. They are extremely dangerous, highly unpredictable and fatalities occur about once a year.
Trying to get up close to wolves results from scientific and personal curiosity. Trying to get up close to grizzlies represents suicidal tendencies.
TT & girlfriend were killed by stupidity ,13years of luck finally ran out, as one who has been within reach of many BlackBears over the years it speaks more for the Bears forebearance, tolerance & plain good will /temper if you don't get mauled .My encounters could have ended badly & I wouldn't have been able to do a thing to stop them ,BUT, they just ran away...
It was the same with the "Crocodile man", it was a matter of time , all my Wildlife savvy friends agree ,he was going to get the chop.
Tempt fate long enough & it WILL call YOUR number........