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Thursday, October 09, 2003

Treadwell: 'Get out here. I'm getting killed'

MAULING: Sound of bear attack that killed two was captured by video camera.

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: October 9, 2003)

Among the last words Timothy Treadwell uttered to his girlfriend before a bear killed and partially ate both of them were these:

"Get out here. I'm getting killed.''

Words caught on a tape recording of the attack also reveal Treadwell's girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, shouting at him to play dead, then encouraging him to fight back.
Alaska State Troopers report that is what they heard on a videotape recovered Monday at the scene of a bear mauling in Katmai National Park and Preserve. The tape was in a camera found near the bear-buried remains of Treadwell, 46, and Huguenard, 37.
Troopers spokesman Greg Wilkinson said there are no pictures on the tape, leading troopers to believe the attack might have happened while the camera was stuffed in a duffle bag or during the dark of night. Treadwell had talked to an associate in Malibu, Calif., by satellite phone around noon Sunday. He mentioned no problems with any bears.
The remains of the Southern Californians who periodically came to Alaska to live intimately with the bears were found the next day. A large but scrawny old bear with bad teeth that a pilot had seen sitting on the brush and dirt pulled over the bodies was shot and killed by National Park Service rangers at the scene after it charged them.
Troopers Wednesday refused requests to release the audiotape, but said it convinced them the two people had been killed by a bear. Speculation about whether a bear had actually done the killing had been fueled by Treadwell's oft-stated but unsubstantiated claim that he spent summers at Katmai to protect the bears from poachers and sport hunters.
"I'm their lifeguard,'' he told a reporter for The Davis (Calif.) Enterprise in 1999. "I'm there to keep the poachers and sport hunters away. I'm much more likely to be killed by an angry sport hunter than a bear.''
The Kaflia Bay area of Alaska's Gulf Coast -- where Treadwell spent most of his time in the state -- has long been closed to sport hunters, and Katmai rangers said there is no history of poachers killing bears in the area.
When bears die, they are usually killed by other brown bears, said park superintendent Deb Liggett, noting that 90 percent of the cubs each year are killed, and often eaten, by other brown bears. Adult bears sometimes kill each other there, too.
In this case, Wilkinson said, troopers are confident a bear was also responsible for killing the Malibu couple. Troopers are also convinced, he added, that the bear seen feeding on their bodies was the bear killed by Park Service rangers. There is no way, however, of knowing whether that bear or another shot by troopers at the scene did the actual killing.
The tape full of screams and rustling sounds details the attack, Wilkinson said, but adds little to explain exactly what happened or why. The tape, he said, lasts about three minutes. Scratching and dragging noises on it have led troopers to believe Treadwell might have been wearing a body mike when the attack began.
After Treadwell calls for help, Wilkinson said, Huguenard can be heard shouting "play dead.'' That is the recommended response to being grabbed by a brown or grizzly bear, but authorities stress the idea of playing dead should be abandoned if the bear continues to press the attack.
On the tape, shortly after the warning to "play dead,'' Wilkinson said, "Huguenard is heard to scream "fight back.'' Treadwell later yells "hit him with a pan,'' Wilkinson said.
After that, the tape goes dead. Because there are no pictures, troopers believe it is most likely the bear came in the night. The tent in which Treadwell and Huguenard had been camping showed no signs of being ripped open by a bear trying to attack people inside, but a friend of Treadwell's said it was common for him to leave the tent in the dark to confront bears that approached his camp.
"His way of operating was to get out of the tent immediately when he heard a bear around,'' Juneau filmmaker Joel Bennett said Wednesday. "He subscribed to the theory that the worst thing you could do was stay in the tent."
Bennett knew the flamboyant Treadwell well. Only two weeks before Treadwell's death they had spent weeks on Kodiak Island working on a Disney film about bears.
"You probably know that I've done three full-length films with him,'' Bennett said. "There's no question he had a remarkable repertoire with bears and had a remarkable ability for them to tolerate him ... (but) just so people don't get the wrong idea, Tim definitely knew there were bears out there that were bad medicine.
"This incident sounds to me like it had nothing to do with his work during the day to look at bears or photograph bears. It was a campsite situation.''
Dozens of scientists, bear guides and outdoor authorities who have spent their lives around Alaska's bruins have criticized Treadwell's daytime activities. The Californian had a seemingly overwhelming need to get close to bears.
"He was a strange dude,'' said Joe Darminio, a former guide at the Newhalen Lodge who used to take bear-viewing tourists to meet Treadwell. Many of the tourists, Darminio added, recognized Treadwell from television or his book, "Among Grizzlies -- Living with Wild Bears in Alaska.''
Opinions among the tourists were split on whether Treadwell's bear-stalking antics were crazy, but Darminio said there was agreement the blond Californian in the black Carhartt's with the bandana tied around his head like a pirate was entertaining.
It was hard to avoid being shocked or impressed by the fearless way he eased up to within feet of some of the most powerful predators on the continent. Treadwell said he could calm them by talking in his high-pitched sing-song voice and tell from their body language whether they posed any threat.
"He really was a Dian Fossey in that way,'' Bennett said. "She could have been killed by one swipe of a gorilla at any time. Dian Fossey got close to the gorillas. She touched them. Timmy did not encourage other people to do this. He says over and over in his films, 'Do not do this. Do not copy me.' It's obviously not something people should do, but it's something that he did."
Huguenard was exposed to Treadwell's daring antics at a grizzly bear presentation in Boulder, Colo. A graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine with a degree in molecular biology from the University of Colorado in Boulder, she knew trying to get close to brown bears was dangerous, but went along with Treadwell anyway.
"It was part of her life,'' sister Kathie Stowell told The Times' newspaper in their old hometown of Valparaiso, Ind. "They had a passion and that overrode everything.
"She definitely died, according to her, in the most beautiful, pristine place on earth.''

Reporter Elizabeth Manning contributed to this story. Daily News outdoor editor Craig Medred can be reached at

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Ahhh....So he didn't REALLY want to be eaten!

The case of Timothy Treadwell and his innocent companion Amie Hugenard is sad, very sad. In her case, tragic because the poor woman really had no idea of what she was getting herself into, following a suicidal lunatic into the Alaskan bush to "live among the grizzly."
Treadwell has opinied on several occasions that he would be honored to be a meal for the ursus, but did he intend for his female companion to be dessert?
Well, truth be told the camera (at least the audio track) doesn't lie. Treadwell, friend of all that walks on two legs and growls, spent his last moments on Earth screaming for help, begging for his life as the jaws of an animal he thought should be elevated to "the kindred state" with a couple of species of marine mammals closed around his fragile human body as an undoubtedly terrified Amie watched in horror and awaiting her own fate.

Katmai bear mauling recorded on tape

By RACHEL D'ORO, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (October 8, 6:55 p.m. ADT) - The graphic sounds of a fatal bear attack were recorded on tape, Alaska State Troopers discovered Wednesday while reviewing videotape recovered from the campsite where a wildlife author and his girlfriend were killed.

The remains of Timothy Treadwell, 46, and Amie Huguenard, 37, both of Malibu, Calif., were found Monday at Katmai National Park and Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula.

Trooper Chris Hill said the tape suggests the video camera was turned on just before Treadwell was attacked. The recording is audio only and the screen remains blank for all six minutes.

"They're both screaming, she's telling him to play dead, then it changes to fighting back. He asks her to hit the bear," Hill said. "There's so much noise going on. I don't know what's him and what might be an animal.

"It's pretty disturbing. I keep hearing it in my mind."

An air taxi pilot who arrived to pick up the couple near Kaflia Bay contacted the National Park Service and troopers to report a brown bear was apparently sitting on top of human remains in the camp.

A ranger shot and killed a large brown bear when the animal charged at them through the dense brush. Troopers and rangers later killed a smaller bear apparently stalking them.

An autopsy on the human remains confirmed the couple were killed by bears, according to results released Wednesday.

Troopers recovered video and still photography equipment as well as three hours of video footage from the site, which is located across Shelikof Strait from Kodiak Island.

Much of the footage is closeup shots of bears. Treadwell built his reputation as an author and videographer living among Katmai bears each summer for more than a decade. Huguenard, a physician's assistant, had been traveling to the park for the last couple of years with Treadwell - co-author of "Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska."

Some of the recovered footage has bears no more than a few feet away from Treadwell. Others show a more timid Huguenard leaning away as bears come close to her on the bank of a river.

Hill said he was stunned by what he heard.

"The audio starts while he's being mauled and ends while he's being mauled," Hill said.

Perhaps Treadwell heard a bear and asked Huguenard to turn on the camera, which was found with the lens lid on and packed in a camera bag, Hill said.

"At first, she sounds kind of surprised and asks if it's still out there. I'm not sure if she was asking if a bear was outside their tent or in the brush," Hill said. "The audio stops because the tape runs out. Otherwise, it probably would have captured the whole thing."

Hill said he will attempt to transcribe the tape. There are no plans to make the recording or transcripts public, trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said.

On Wednesday, the Park Service focused its investigation on the campsite.

A multi-agency team, including rangers and troopers, flew out to the remote area again after being socked in by bad weather Tuesday. A state biologist was on hand to take tissue samples from the dead bears for necropsies.

Human remains and a T-shirt were found in the stomach of the larger bear. But other bears had eaten most of the smaller bear or buried some of its remains, Hill said.

There's no way to tell if either bear killed Treadwell and Huguenard, said John Quinley, a Park Service spokesman.

"No doubt we'll be looking for evidence of human remains, but there's a difference between killing and consuming," Quinley said. "The fact that those bears consumed humans doesn't mean they did the killing."

Rebecca Dmytryk, who oversees an animal rescue organization in Malibu, said Treadwell was more fearful among humans sometimes than with bears.

She recalled video footage of Treadwell before his death that showed him in a streambed near an older bear he nicknamed "Quincy."

"Quincy, do you remember when you stood over me? You were so hungry, and you should have eaten me, but you didn't. Thanks for not eating me, Quincy," Dmytryk recalled him saying to the bear in the clip. "If Quincy had eaten me, good, 'cause he's a nice bear. Love 'm."

Added Dmytryk: "He did love those bears. They were family. He sacrificed his life to protect them."

Treadwell's family was in shock.

"I was dumbfounded, ready to fall through the floor," said his father, Valentin Dexter, who lives in Pompano Beach, Fla. "Oh God, I was very proud of him."

"We talked about the risk of him living by himself in the woods, but we never dwelled on it because he always came home happy and with so many good stories," said his mother, Carolann Dexter.

"Not too many get to do what they love and he did just that."

"I would be honored to end up in bear scat"

Wildlife author killed, eaten by bears he loved

Wildlife author killed, eaten by bears he loved
KATMAI: Many had warned Treadwell that his encounters with browns were too close.

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: October 8, 2003)

A California author and filmmaker who became famous for trekking to Alaska's remote Katmai coast to commune with brown bears has fallen victim to the teeth and claws of the wild animals he loved.

Alaska State Troopers and National Park Service officials said Timothy Treadwell, 46, and girlfriend Amie Huguenard, 37, were killed and partially eaten by a bear or bears near Kaflia Bay, about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage, earlier this week.

Scientists who study Alaska brown bears said they had been warning Treadwell for years that he needed to be more careful around the huge and powerful coastal twin of the grizzly.

Treadwell's films of close-up encounters with giant bears brought him a bounty of national media attention. The fearless former drug addict from Malibu, Calif. -- who routinely eased up close to bears to chant "I love you'' in a high-pitched, sing-song voice -- was the subject of a show on the Discovery Channel and a report on "Dateline NBC." Blond, good-looking and charismatic, he appeared for interviews on David Letterman's show and "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" to talk about his bears. He even gave them names: Booble, Aunt Melissa, Mr. Chocolate, Freckles and Molly, among others.

A self-proclaimed eco-warrior, he attracted something of a cult following too. Chuck Bartlebaugh of "Be Bear Aware,'' a national bear awareness campaign, called Treadwell one of the leaders of a group of people engaged in "a trend to promote getting close to bears to show they were not dangerous.

"He kept insisting that he wanted to show that bears in thick brush aren't dangerous. The last two people killed (by bears) in Glacier National Park went off the trail into the brush. They said their goal was to find a grizzly bear so they could 'do a Timothy.' We have a trail of dead people and dead bears because of this trend that says, 'Let's show it's not dangerous.' '' (more)

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The only good griz is a DEAD griz

They are one of the most, if not THE most dangerous animals in the world.
Timothy Treadwell decided they were more fun than drugs. Well, well... He was found "partially consumed and cached" along with his companion Amie Hugenard yesterday.
"feeding on humanremains"
"partially consumed and cached" "that is not an unusual behavior among bears"
met a bear that challenged his concept of bears as friendly animals
Here's what he thought of bears, from his website
"Grizzly People is a grassroots organization devoted to preserving bears
and their wilderness habitat. Our goal is to elevate the grizzly to the kindred state
of the whale and dolphin through supportive education
in the hopes that humans will learn to live in peace with the bear,
wilderness and fellow humans".
The kindred state of the whale and dolphin? Are you serious? Neither whales nor dolphins feed on "human remains."
Bear Expert and Companion Killed in Bear Attack at Alaska Park
By Rachel D'oro Associated Press Writer
Published: Oct 7, 2003

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A self-taught bear expert who once called Alaska's brown bears harmless was one of two people fatally mauled in a bear attack in the Katmai National Park and Preserve.

The bodies of Timothy Treadwell, 46, and Amie Huguenard, 37, both of Malibu, Calif., were found Monday at their campsite when a pilot arrived who was supposed to take them to Kodiak, state troopers said Tuesday.

Treadwell, co-author of "Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska," spent more than a dozen summers living alone with and videotaping Katmai bears. Information on Huguenard was not immediately available.

The Andrew Airways pilot contacted troopers in Kodiak and the National Park Service after he saw a brown bear, possibly on top of a body, at the camp near Kaflia Bay.

Park rangers encountered a large, aggressive male brown bear within minutes of arriving. Ranger Joel Ellis said two officers stood by with shotguns as he fired 11 times with a semi-automatic handgun before the animal fell, 12 feet away.

"That was cutting it thin," said Ellis, the lead investigator. "I didn't take the time to count how many times it was hit."

The victims' remains and camping equipment were flown Monday to Kodiak. Ellis said investigators hope to glean some information from video and still cameras.

As the plane was being loaded, another aggressive bear approached and was killed by rangers and troopers. The bear was younger, possibly a 3-year-old, according to Bruce Bartley of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The victims' bodies were flown to the state medical examiner's office for autopsy.

Dean Andrew, owner of Andrew Airways, said the pilot was too upset to comment. The company had been flying Treadwell to Katmai for 13 years and Huguenard for the last couple of years. Andrew said Treadwell was an experienced outdoorsman.

Treadwell was known for his confidence around bears. He often touched them, and gave them names. Once he was filmed crawling along the ground singing as he approached a sow and two cubs.

Over the years, Park Service officials, biologists and others expressed concern about his safety and the message he was sending.

"At best he's misguided," Deb Liggett, superintendent at Katmai, told the Anchorage Daily News in 2001. "At worst he's dangerous. If Timothy models unsafe behavior, that ultimately puts bears and other visitors at risk."

That same year Treadwell was a guest on the "Late Show with David Letterman," describing Alaska brown bears as mostly harmless "party animals."

In his book, Treadwell said he decided to devote himself to saving grizzlies after a drug overdose, followed by several close calls with brown bears in early trips to Alaska. He said those experiences inspired him to give up drugs, study bears and establish a nonprofit bear-appreciation group, called Grizzly People.

Grizzly and brown bears are the same species, but "brown" is used to describe bears in coastal areas and "grizzly" for bears in the interior.

The deaths were the first known bear killings in the 4.7-million-acre park on the Alaska Peninsula.