Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Grizzly Man


Timothy Treadwell loved bears, especially grizzly bears. He raved about them. He sang to them. He lived with them. Sadly, Tim's affection for the bears was not returned. They ate him. His girlfriend, too. And therein lies the tale of goo-goo animal rights activism gone wrong, horribly wrong, a story of a man consumed by his passion soon to be told in a documentary called "The Grizzly Man", appearing in theaters on August 12 and the Discovery Channel this fall.

Timothy Treadwell, author, filmmaker, self-professed eco-warrior, found his salvation in the grizzly bear. As he explained in his book, "Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska," bears had driven him to give up drugs and establish a non-profit bear-appreciation group, called Grizzly People. On one his videos, he promises a bear, "I will stop drinking for you and all bears. I will stop and devote my life to you." Greater love hath no man than this, than to lay down his booze for his bears. "I love the bears. I love, love, love these animals," gushed Treadwell.

Treadwell made an annual trek to remote Kaflia Bay in Alaska, about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage, in the Katmai National Park and Preserve, where he set up camp in bear territory from May through October. The salmon ran through there, which attracted the bears. Because of the network of bear trails there, he called it the Grizzly Maze. He repeated the trip for thirteen years. He studied the bears there, coming ever closer to them, even touching them, and videotaping his close encounters with the thousand pound omnivores. Often, Treadwell would creep up on the grizzly bears chanting in a high-pitched, sing-song, "I love you." Some of the people who knew Treadwell think he wanted to be a bear.

Breaking camp after four months, he would return to California where he would relate his ursine adventures in California schools. "His passion for the bears and wildlife was just infectious, and the students loved his stories," said Phil Cott, principal of Webster Elementary School in Malibu.

Amie Huguenard met Treadwell at a grizzly bear presentation in Boulder, Colorado. A graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, she also had a degree in molecular biology from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She was a physician's assistant in Boulder.

She followed Treadwell to California, then to his camp in Alaska. She quite sensibly feared the bears, though evidently not enough as events proved. Said her sister, "They had a passion and that overrode everything." An old boyfriend of hers said she was very naive and easily fooled. "Amie had a kind of naivete about her that added a real sweetness to her entire persona. At times it was easy to convince her of things that were not entirely true. We would let her in on these jokes and get a good laugh, especially from her."

Bear researchers in Alaska usually defend their campsites with electric fences and carry guns. Treadwell didn't. He even gave up carrying bear spray for self-protection. He told his friends he didn't need it because he knew the bears so well. He faced a giant bear in one of his videos, cooing to it, "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 - but if you had eaten me, good, 'cause you're a nice bear!"

Tim named the bears: Booble, Aunt Melissa, Mr. Chocolate, Freckles, Molly. Cupcake, Taffy, the Big Red Machine bear, the Baby Letterman bear, Demon and so on. Treadwell thought his grizzly bears accepted him, perhaps even loved him. Bear experts seem to think that they just tolerated him. Sometimes in his videos he ignored obvious threatening bear behavior, like chuffing or laying their ears back or rocking sideways on their paws. Treadwell appeared oblivious to this dangerous body language.

Treadwell's antics with the charismatic megafauna made him a media darling. "Dateline NBC" did a report on him. Rosie O'Donnell had him on her show as a guest. The Discovery Channel gave him a show, the "Grizzly Diaries." A blurb for the show: "Follow Timothy Treadwell as he keeps a yearly appointment with North America's most feared predator - the grizzly bear! Armed with only a video camera, he roams the Alaskan wilderness living in close contact with the magnificent animals. Watch, amazed, as he comes face to face with an 1000-pound bear!"

"I want to be unconditional love and kindness to them," he told Dave Letterman on the Late Show. "I want to live with them and go with them and not carry something that will hurt them. I mastered a way of interacting with them with body language that enables me to be in extremely close contact with them. Grizzly bears are really just big party animals. I discovered that singing soothes these bears."

Dave jokingly asked Treadwell if he was going to open the newspaper some morning and find he'd been eaten by bears. Treadwell told Dave he felt safer living among the bears than running through New York's Central Park.

Treadwell's facile glibness persuaded the dim bulbs of Hollywood. Hollywood screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown), "Common sense will tell you that this man knows infinitely more about Grizzly bears than anyone." Towne was active in Treadwell's Grizzly People group. Hollywood celebrities were happy to kick in cash for Treadwell's adventures, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Pierce Brosnan, and supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Tom Smith, a biologist at the Alaska Science Center, did not find Treadwell's approach so cute, "Bears are bears, and the sooner we treat them as bears instead of humans in a bear suit it will be less dangerous."

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

Chuck Bartlebaugh of "Be Bear Aware," a national bear awareness campaign, called Treadwell a leader of "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.'"

As it turns out, the bears that Treadwell called grizzlies weren't exactly grizzlies but brown bears. Brown and grizzly bears are the same species but grizzlies live in the interior, brown bears live on the coast where Treadwell camped.

Also, the Grizzly People was not a non-profit organization, as it claimed. The IRS never heard of it.

And Timothy Treadwell's name was not Timothy Treadwell but Timothy William Dexter. He was not from Australia as he claimed, but Long Island. Nor was he a British orphan, as he told his friends, but the son of Valentine Dexter, a phone company foreman, who kicked him out of the house after dropping out of college and crashing the family station wagon while drunk.

Treadwell moved to California where his life went into a death spiral of drink and drugs. The police in Sunset Beach booked him on assault charges. The Beverly Hills cops took him on suspicion of assault. Then he nearly killed himself with a drug overdose. That's when he got his vision of life with the bears.

U.S. Geological Survey bear researcher Tom Smith: "He's the only one I've consistently had concern for. He had kind of a childlike attitude about him. I told him to be much more cautious ... because every time a bear kills somebody, there is a big increase in bearanoia and bears get killed. I thought that would be a way of getting to him, and his response was 'I would be honored to end up in bear scat.'" Damned if his dream didn't come true.

A pilot flew out from Kodiak to pick up the pair at the end of their stay and bring them home only to find a big mean-ass bear squatting on human remains in Treadwell's camp. That looked bad. He called park rangers who were charged by the bear at the camp. Joel Ellis, Katmai park ranger, said he fired eleven rounds from his pistol before bringing the bear down twelve feet away. He thought that was cutting it fine.

It was a large, 28 year old, underweight male, only a thousand pounds, with a ratty hide and rotting teeth. The autopsy found hunks of Treadwell and bits of his clothes in its stomach. The rest of Treadwell and Huguenard had been buried to eat later. Bears cache their food like that. Timothy Treadwell was 46. His girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, was 37.

It's not clear what the name of the bear was which ate Tim and Amie. Maybe it was the lovable Booble or that scamp Molly. My guess is that it was Demon.

The Alaska State Troopers believe that Tim and Amie were attacked at 1:45 PM on October 5, 2003 while they ate lunch in their tent during a rainshower. A bear wandered into their camp and Tim left the tent to chase it away. But it wouldn't be chased. It was a bear with a bad attitude. There had been a poor berry crop that year and the bear needed to fatten up for the winter. Maybe he smelled their lunch.

Before he left the tent to confront the bear, Treadwell told his girlfriend to turn on his videocamera. She did, but left the lens cap on. The tape recorded the sounds of the attack. Most of it is screaming, rustling sounds, scratching and dragging noises.

Treadwell screams, "They're killing me out here!" "Play dead," screams Amie. That must not have stopped the attack. Amie screams again, "Fight back!" Treadwell screams again, "Hit him with something! Hit him with a pan!" Treadwell's last words to his girlfriend were the wisest ones he ever spoke: "Get out here. I'm getting killed." The last human sounds are Amie wailing. It took the bear six and a half minutes to kill them.

Rather than be frightened away by Treadwell's tragedy, a new cohort of wildlife photographers and videographers have been encouraged by his example and have set off to national parks to imitate him. They want desperately to do a Timothy. That is undoubtedly good news for hungry bears everywhere.

39 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim was dumb and payed the ultimate price!! The blame comes when we find that he didn't just get his dumb ass killed, but made that poor girl's family suffer,with the last words of their loving daughter screaming in terror and pain. She was pretty and looks kind of like my 35 year old wife!!! What a shame. God speed to friends and family.

Wed Aug 17, 06:48:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree he was stupid and dunb and had to make someone else suffer with him. i feel bad for the womans family and if you do to pray for them!

Sun Nov 06, 09:09:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't about the bears, it was all about Treadwell. If it were about the bears then Treadwell would have realized that his exploits were putting the bears in danger, not helping them.

Sat Feb 04, 10:53:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, his death caused the death of a bear. That is something he said he did not want but his actions caused just that.

Mon Feb 06, 05:40:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he is a badass you guys are ignorant if you hold anythin against him

Sun Feb 26, 01:52:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that last comment sounded juvenile.

Mon Feb 27, 12:22:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Tantor said...

I recommend Mr. Badass go imitate Treadwell's example, since he finds him so admirable. I wish all Treadwell's disciples the best of luck in their progress toward their ultimate destination as bear scat.

Mon Feb 27, 12:59:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Treadwell's passion, desire and committment were admirable. However, his habbits and practices were questionable and foolish; His demise was inevitable. His obvious unstability not only limited his success but cost the life of a young woman and the bears he worked so diligently to protect.

Tue Feb 28, 12:40:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Greg said...

It is really a shame how so many Americans are teaching kids that wild animals are loving creatures just like the teddy bears in the play pen. They KILL what they eat and will eat anything they can kill. Man is no diffrent, we KILL to eat also but most PAY others to do the killing for them and try to pretend it didn't happen. That is how nature works and how it should be told to all the children. These animal rights groups never end up helping the wildlife. They ALWAYS end up doing much more harm to them and other HUMANS. The sporstmen have always helped the wildlife more than any other. Every dime that the sportsman spends goes to helping the lives and homes of the wildlife. Just think on how many dimes it takes to pay for all the commercials and adds in all the magazines that the animal rights groups put out. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
Every bear that Mr Treadwell encountered was harmed by him. You can not help the bears by making them not afraid of humans only harm. It you wanna help you should scare them in any way that you can. Just be safe and stay far away.
Sorry for the long comment...

Tue Feb 28, 08:00:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the program on Discovery.

He talked like a woman!

All I have to say is "Pretty Bear"

Fri Mar 24, 05:35:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are any of the videos that Timothy shot durings his trips available for purchase? I have only seen the footage in Grizzly Man. Any links would be appreciated.

Sun Mar 26, 02:33:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here bear, pretty bear!

Mon Mar 27, 03:37:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can I get my hands on the audio!

Tue Mar 28, 01:38:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Tantor said...

The audio is on the videotape from Treadwell's camera, which was given to a friend of his, as shown in the documentary "The Grizzly Man." The odds are that it will never be made public. Probably it would take the death of the current owner, who is still young, and the passing of Treadwell's family before it would ever enter the public domain.

Tue Mar 28, 02:52:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who ever discredits Treadwell will rot in Hell. I cannot stand these people that says he sounds like a woman (Pretty Bear). I believe that these people are jealous of Timothy and all the great things he accomplished.

Tue Mar 28, 03:21:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Party in Bear Town, bring your sneakers!

Tue Mar 28, 06:06:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This website was established to pay respect to and remember the like of Timothy and some of you are being disrespectful to him and yourself. Think before you post a comment. Disrespecting the dead at their expense to make you feel better real mature?

Tue Mar 28, 07:03:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This website should also be to respect the bear, I am brother with bear. How many more of my brothers must die because people are now imitating this. Hug a tree not a wild animal. Sometimes when people try to change things they cause more problems. Let life on earth evolve like the path of water in the stream. What happens will happen, stay at home and read books. Stay out of the mountains.

Tue Mar 28, 07:39:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spend a lot of time in the back country. I pack an air horn, pepper spray and by best frends Smith and Wesson (44 mag short barrel) just to even the odds. I hope I never have an encounter, but I do everything to keep my distance. My cooking clothes and all food are hung far from my tent.
Anyone that thinks you can pet the bears or think they have some sort of special friendship did way to much LSD in their past. The mountains rock, but the bears are out there and they will get you and eat you. City kids need to learn the ways of the back country before they take any hikes. Bears and mountain lions are flesh eating wild aniamals!

Tue Mar 28, 07:55:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that some of the people that think this Treadwell guy was a hero claim it wasn't a bear that attacked him. One guy claimed they seen a UFO in the area Tim was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Another lady swears that the footprints and all evidence show it was definately a Sasquatch. The bears were actually trying to save Tim.

Tue Mar 28, 08:09:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Tantor said...

Anon: "This website was established to pay respect to and remember the like of Timothy and some of you are being disrespectful to him and yourself. Think before you post a comment. Disrespecting the dead at their expense to make you feel better real mature?"

Anybody who proclaims that his goal in life is to become bear scat richly deserves ridicule. After thinking over Treadwell's life yet again, I become more convinced that he was a fool whose example should be ridiculed to discourage numbskulls from following his example to their deaths. It was hardly mature of him to go play with the bears as if they were big friendly dogs instead of wild, carnivorous beasts. He was a fool who met a fool's end and who is now praised only by fools.

Wed Mar 29, 08:57:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The funny thing is treadwell thought he was a bear. He thought they loved him. You saw that outburst from him against wild life authorites? Dude is a wack job, and the video proves it. I am scared to walk up to a fenced dog let alone a 1,000 pound bear. Don't get me wrong I respect Tim for his braviery but I never saw him protect a bear!!! Did he scare off pochers? I never even saw one in his videos. I saw him hiding from them tho. All do respect he had some balls to mess with animal like that, what was he thinking. If you think animals love you, just look at his video. He is no longer with us because he thought that. They didn't like him, love him or even respect him. His actions cause a roar all over. Let see what he really caused: 3 Deaths, families sad with sorrow, millions of ppl's reactions about him and never saved a bear!! The bear that ate him was a oldest and the hungriest. The bear really did love him, all the way into his stomach. If he would have made it back these video would probably never made TV, but since he and his girl died it had to.

Fri Mar 31, 02:14:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Treadwell Site

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TimothyTreadwell_Paths/

Sat Apr 01, 04:30:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had my pepper spray I may still be alive.
Timothy Treadwels last thoughts

Fri May 05, 02:34:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my name is emma ferguson and i think that timothys bravery is unbelivable.....you people only think abut what he did ......"he talked like a girl" or he didnt no wot he was doing...stop thinkin about your self and think about others i bet you wouldnt of done what timothy did! he was a brave man,and i worship his bravery! he is my idol and i will never forget him!

Wed Aug 16, 11:05:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People Im not understanding how people can be so cruel... the man died.... Yes he made a mistake, he encounterd the wrong bear at the wrong time..His girl friend made the call to fallow him...people have no right to say he killed her... He seemed a bit nutty though, but im sure after all the time alone in the woods would make anyman crazy. People please be more respectful yes Timothy and his girlfriend met a tragic end, But he and his girlfriend did teach us all a heartfelt lesson in the end. GOD BLESS the families of both

Thu Aug 17, 05:05:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone dies but the man or woman who dies doing what they loved are the only people who really lived at all.

Thu Aug 17, 05:12:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear sirs, please send more tasty tourists out here, preferably before October.
yours truly,
Grizz

Mon Jan 08, 01:18:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't think we can blame timothy for his girlfriend's death. she was an adult, she could have left. i know i would have. look at the facts. they were smack dab in the middle of bear country; it was the time of the season when many bears are very hungry, and have to eat a lot to prepare for hibernation; they were near a salmon spawning area; their camp was right on top of a bear trail. hello, the only thing they didn't do was jump into the bear's mouth. considering all these dangers, i know i would have been out of there. the girlfriend could have left, she didn't. you can't blame timothy for that.

Sun Jan 28, 01:49:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

me again. was also thinking about it this way. would we, or timothy, have brought a child along for out little summer bear visits? of course not. why not? too dangerous. when do adults lose their common sense? i'm sure timothy wouldn't have had a child there, but it wasn't any less dangerous for him. makes you think he did have a death wish. maybe he was waiting for this day for a long time, hoping it would come sooner than later. just too bad he didn't tell his girlfriend to get out of there.

Sun Jan 28, 01:55:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked that there were some cool people there with some positive comments. I was actually looking for the movie to watch it again. It's all about the love man. You can say this and that, it was wrong because, poor girl, etc. Tragedy? I guess, life being cut short; especially because it happened to be two people who loved live far more than im sure most of us could imagine. They died, they knew it was a good possibility.

the end

Wed Sep 26, 06:44:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's funny how conservatives find a sort of smug satisfaction from this man's death (don't get me wrong i'm a libertarian, which a kind of conservatism). But when you think of this guy's story, he's an aging guy that didn't have much going for him, and instead of a life of unsatisfied consumerism and drug abuse, he follows his dream and spends years in a paradise watching bears and filming them. he knew the danger, and if it would've been me, i'd have had a ruger in one hand, and heck something like a 50 caliber bmg in the other. y'know, just in case i was get EATIN!
but i think he represents a form of Americanism that has for the most part died. the will to follow our dreams. even if he was a bit thick-headed about his safety, and downright RETARDED about the safty of his girlfriend, but i think we can learn from him, and his mistakes.

Thu Dec 06, 01:05:00 AM 2007  
Blogger MeBaby said...

I believe that the deaths of Treadwell and his girlfriend was a tragedy. i see all the views from previous people. Treadwell should have taken into acount his girlfriend's relative inexperience in dealing with bears. A park ranger takes guests only so close. they could get closer, but every step closer, the margin for error and the danger increases. Bears are not cute cuddly animals. They are masters of their environments and will do all in their power to preserve their own lives. It may have been territorial. It also may have been, as some have said, an older bear competing for food and taking any thing it could to ensure it's own survival with the coming winter. Bears are opportunistic feeders and would have taken advantage of humans as a foodsource if competition with other bears had limited its feeding on natural food sources. I believe that Treadwell had good intentions with preserving wildlife. The path he chose has been both ridiculed and praised, but unquestionably led to his death as well as that of his girlfriend. Some of his findings may be of use in conjunction with those of others. Some just interupt the natural ways of the bear's lifestyle, and are too dangerous. We should study such happenings with an open mind as all life should be studied. Retain the good knowledge, and dispell the bad. I pray for the families and friends. I hope that our wildlife is here for all our children in the future, and all steps must be made to ensure that. We are the only ones who have the power to ensure that. God Bless

Mon Apr 14, 04:30:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THE BOTTOM LINE. WILD ANIMALS CAN NOT BE TRUSTED. ESPECIALLY BEARS. GRIZZLY BEARS IN PARTICULAR. THEY MAY NOT SEE YOU AS FOOD UNTIL THEY ARE OLD AND HUNGRY ,BUT SOONER OR LATER THAT TIME WILL COME. AND HE DOES NOT NECESSARILY HAVE TO BE OLD. JUST HUNGRY. GRIZZLIES ARE OPPORTUNISTS. THEY EAT ANY THING THAT IS PALITABLE. HUMANS INCLUDED.

Sun Aug 24, 04:16:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravery should not be mistaken for insanity. Tim was avoiding society with his grand bear dillusion, after quiting drinking. This became even more clear after hearing his unreasonable rant about the government, etc. The ONLY result of his actions were 2 dead bears and another dead naive woman. He was responsible for the death of 2 bears and another beautiful human being. This was very stupid.

Sat May 25, 03:35:00 PM 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well he tried...

Fri May 22, 02:44:00 AM 2015  
Blogger nursemommy4 said...

This isn't a tribute site! Did anyone read the last sentence, "That is undoubtedly good news for hungry bears everywhere." Some tribute...

Mon May 25, 04:37:00 PM 2015  
Blogger nursemommy4 said...

This isn't a tribute site! Did anyone read the last sentence, "That is undoubtedly good news for hungry bears everywhere." Some tribute...

Mon May 25, 04:37:00 PM 2015  
Blogger Shawn Wilson said...

The guy was a narcissistic numbskull..
ANYONE tell me just WHY he was the ONLY one there in all his films?.. Yes we know he took girls there too BUT he had THIRTEEN years to recruit other people or volunteers to help him "protect" the bears.. but he never had anyone else because it was ALL ABOUT TIMOTHY... I am sure there would've been tons of other nutcases that wouldve went with him but he went alone and always made it seem that way because it was all about HIM NOT the bears... He was a consummate liar.. he NEVER encountered ANY poachers.. he never protected the bears AND he so idiotically refuse to carry basic protection against the bears such as bear mace or pepper spray... He thinks he is a "master" of te bears language yet blithely ignores chuffing.. rocking and stomping from the bears.. indicators of an annoyed or threatened bear...EVERY year he got away without a severe mauling was another year which reinforced the massive delusion he had that the bears were safe or more accurately HE was safe with the bears being able to "sing" to them and gain their "respect" by standing his ground.. They tolerated him at best...USUALLY you never even see a bear..they get sight or smell of you and they are long gone.. he (contrary to his own words) intruded upon the bears an d habituated them to humans..."safe" humans...his constant attempts to touch and pet them are yet just another blatant example of just how little the guy knew about bears.. they are NOT social animals like monkeys wanting to touch and feel each other..picking nits out of their hair..bears only touch when having sex or fighting... The guy was a mental midget with a massive delusion and outright refusal to acknowledge reality and facts of the bears being dangerous... In the end he thinks heis the only one who can camp in the maze safely without weapons... then later that day he is killed along with his girlfriend.. WHO I would have to say had to be NAIVE to believe this 160 lb surfer dude could keep her safe from a 1000 lb grizzly bear...She SHOULDVE snuck a can of spray in herself for her own peace of mind and protection.. they both just might be alive today had she OR he had a simple can of pepper spray.. BUT GOOD OL' TIMOTHY had used it once before and thought it caused too much pain to the bear so he stopped carrying it.. he was a failed actor who became a self obsessed retard!

Wed May 11, 02:58:00 AM 2016  

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