Four 'basic principles’ that may have led to the gruesome death of 'Grizzly Man' and his partner (2024)

As well as leaving a lasting legacy of his love for bears, Timothy Treadwell also left a something of an instruction manual for how not to interact with the animals when he passed away.

The outdoors enthusiast, who was nicknamed 'Grizzly Man' due to his affection for the mammals, met a gruesome end during one of his more than a dozen trips to Alaska.

The New York-native flew out to to the US state every summer for 13 years to get up close and personal with the animals, studying their behaviour and camping out alongside them.


He felt more at home among the furry creatures than anywhere else in the world and reckoned he had managed to make himself 'one of them' after his repeated trips.

The environmentalist and documentary maker's 2003 trip to Alaska would be his last though, as in a scenario which he seemingly predicted, Treadwell was killed by the things that he loved the most.

He was last heard from on 5 October that year, before pilot Will Fulton found the mangled remains of him and his girlfriend, Annie Huguenard, strewn across a campsite.


Treadwell - who would play with, touch and closely observe the bears - and his partner were visiting Katmai National Park to camp with the animals.

But just hours before the couple were due to fly back home via seaplane, he was mauled to death - and the bear then turned on Huguenard and killed her too.

Chillingly, Treadwell's camera captured six minutes of audio from the attacks, where he is frantically heard yelling at his other half to 'hit the bear'.

The animal lover screams: "Get out here! I’m getting killed out here!"


Pilot Fulton then arrived to collect them - but instead stumbled across a bizarre scene, consisting of a collapsed tent, unopened snacks, a finger, an arm, Treadwell’s skull and part of his spine attached.

Four 'basic principles’ that may have led to the gruesome death of 'Grizzly Man' and his partner (1)

Timothy Treadwell's love of bears ended up costing him his life. (Lionsgate Films)

A documentary of the couple's horror deaths, titled Grizzly Man, was later released, which was made up of footage that the Grizzly Man himself had captured.

But many people still couldn't understand how such an experienced outdoorsman had ended up meeting his demise just mere hours before he was due to head home.


Obviously, he would have been well versed in the rhyme which doubles as a safety reminder - "If it's brown, lay down. If it's black, fight back. If it's white, goodnight."

But this is clearly a load of hogwash, as it is believed that a male brown bear was responsible for killing the couple.

However, experts reckon there was a series of factors that day which could have ultimately led to his death.

The Katmai National Park's official investigation report on the incident stated: "Treadwell and Huguenard died from a bear attack that might have been avoided by adhering to basic principles of camping in bear country."


So, what are the four basic principles which the pair allegedly didn't abide by while cosying up to the beasts?

Four 'basic principles’ that may have led to the gruesome death of 'Grizzly Man' and his partner (2)

It's believe a brown bear killed the couple. (Getty stock photo)

Low visibility

Although there were no witnesses to the fatal attack, the national park believes Treadwell is likely to have stepped outside of his tent to investigate the presence of a bear nearby, before the animal pounced.

Katmai says that, at the time, 'the campsite and general area had poor visibility due to tall grass and heavy shrub cover'.

As well as making it harder for Treadwell and Huguenard to detect bears close by, it would also have affected the animal's visual ability.

If the brown bear was taken by surprise by the couple, it would have been more likely to react in a defensive way.

Too close for comfort

Treadwell liked to make the most of his annual camping trips and obviously wanted a front row seat for the action.

He pitched his tent in close proximity to the bears in a bid to increase their chances of running into one, but obviously this was an extremely dangerous position to be in.

Bear biologist Larry Van Daele explained that Treadwell and Huguenard were sitting ducks, as they were also close to a salmon stream where wild bears were known to feed from.

"The camp was set up in such a way that bears wishing to traverse the area would have had to either wade in the lake or walk right next to the tent," he said in the report.

"A person could not have designed a more dangerous location to set up a camp."

Four 'basic principles’ that may have led to the gruesome death of 'Grizzly Man' and his partner (3)

The animal lover is said to have made four fatal errors. (Lionsgate Films)

Time of year

The Grizzly Man had stayed on the campsite for longer than usual during his trip, meaning it clashed with the bears' bulking season ahead of winter.

In the October, the mammals will have been attempting to gain as much fat as possible before the cold months came in.

Food was also scarce for them during that autumn, so the bears were even more aggressive than usual.

The report explained that Treadwell was ambushed 'during a time of year when bears were fiercely competing for food sources', which undoubtedly encouraged the animal to launch its attack.

Food laid out

Despite being an accomplished outdoorsman, investigators believe that the 46-year-old may have made some silly mistakes with food storage which could have cost him his life.

The majority of Treadwell and Huguenard's supplies were kept in bear-resistant food containers (BRFCs), which officials say is the only time when grub can be left unattended.

Thee Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee approves bear resistant food containers and says they must be constructed of a solid non-pliable material capable of withstanding a minimum of 300 foot-pounds of energy.

Despite the couple using BRFCs, some snacks were also strewn inside their tent.

"It is possible that a bear investigated the camp in part due to the food found in the sleeping tent," Van Daele added.

Featured Image Credit: Lionsgate Films/Getty stock image

Topics:Animals, US News, News, Health, Food And Drink

Four 'basic principles’ that may have led to the gruesome death of  'Grizzly Man' and his partner (2024)


What is the tragic story of the Grizzly Man? ›

In October 2003, just hours before the couple were meant to fly back home for winter, Treadwell was mauled to death by a bear in front of his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard before it turned its sights on her too.

What were Grizzly Man's last words? ›

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.

What is the message of Grizzly Man? ›

Grizzly Man is more than a conventional wildlife documentary, as the title of the film emphasizes the centrality of the main protagonist to the story. Herzog subjectively structures the film to take the viewer on a dialectical quest between his and Treadwell's visions about man versus nature and life versus death.

What was the primary premise of Grizzly Man? ›

Grizzly Man is a 2005 American documentary film by German director Werner Herzog. It chronicles the life and death of bear enthusiast and conservationist Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard at Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Who was the couple eaten by the Grizzlies? ›

On October 5, 2003, Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed and almost fully eaten by a 28-year-old male bear whose stomach was later found to contain human remains and clothing.

Who was the man killed by the grizzly bear? ›

Back in October 2003, Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, were killed by the very thing he loved the most. The documentary maker was nicknamed the 'Grizzly Man' due to his absolute adoration for bears. He had a 13-year-long tradition of flying out to Alaska every summer to mingle with the animals.

How long did Grizzly Man survive? ›

How did Timothy Treadwell survive living with grizzly bears for 13 summers? He had this electric fence he put around his camp. He spent his winters down in sunny California doing drugs and waiting for the bears to come out of hibernation. He kept his distance from the bears and the bears mostly ignored him.

Is Grizzly Suit Guy still alive? ›

Troy Hurtubise and his wife Lori Hurtubise. Troy, who died in June 2018, was famous for his exploits developing a grizzly bear protection suit.

Is Brutus the Grizzly still alive? ›

Brutus died on February 2, 2021, at the age of 19.

Is grizzly man ethical? ›

Grizzly Man is a story about the boundaries between humans and animals – a boundary Timothy Treadwell seems eager to transgress. As a reflexive film, it thrusts us into ethically ambiguous domain, forcing us to recognize that shalom is still on the horizon – we are not yet in the peaceable kingdom.

Is Grizzly Man funny? ›

Easily the funniest documentary ever.

What is grizzly based on? ›

THE GRIZZLIES is based on the inspiring true story of the youth of Kugluktuk, Nunavut - who were transformed by the power of sport, family, tradition, and community, and in turn, transformed their town with the highest suicide rate in all of North America into a model of hope and youth-led resilience.

What were Timothy Treadwell's last words? ›

“Come out here; I'm being killed out here,” Treadwell said. “Play dead!” Huguenard yelled in reply.

What is the rhetorical form of the grizzly man? ›

By utilizing the rhetorical element pathos, Herzog effectively demonstrates Treadwell's passion for working with the bears and provides a strong argument acknowledging the work that he had accomplished.

Why is Grizzly Man rated R? ›

The film includes several images of bears menacing or fighting with one another, as well as some "confessional" moments by Treadwell that might disturb younger viewers (he's very emotional, uses frequent foul language, and behaves in a paranoid manner).

What is the true story grizzly bear movie? ›

Grizzly Man is a heartbreaking and insightful look into the lives of grizzly wildlife activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who died in October 2003 while living in Alaska with grizzly bears. The movie follows Treadwell as he lived a kind life and found refuge among these threatened animals.

Is Amie Huguenard still alive? ›

What is the story of Grizzly Adams? ›

Plot. The film portrays the somewhat fictional Grizzly Adams as a frontier woodsman who fled into the mountains in the year 1853, after he was accused of a murder he didn't commit. While struggling to survive, Adams saves an orphaned grizzly bear cub he adopts and names Ben.

Who was the couple killed by the bear in Algonquin Park? ›

Jenny Gusse and Doug Inglis died during a backpacking trip through Canada's Banff National Park. They're seen here on a river trip in Saskatchewan. The two campers who died in a grizzly bear attack in Banff National Park in Canada were able to send a desperate message before succumbing to their injuries.

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