But all was not as it seemed with Treadwell.
While he claimed to have discovered an unknown, secret spot where the bears gathered in Alaska that he was "protecting", he in fact was filming in Katmai National Park where tourists regularly go to see the bears - and where hunting the bears is strictly forbidden. He was warned several times by Park Rangers that what he was doing (getting so close to the bears) was both foolish and dangerous and would get him killed. He was also warned that his reckless behavior would ultimately necessitate the destruction of a bear by the authorities (who were in fact protecting the bears), something they absolutely hated having to do.
Almost from the start, the National Park Service expressed their worries about his behavior. According to the file kept on Treadwell by the Park Service, rangers reported he had at least six violations from 1994 to 2003. Included among these violations are: guiding tourists without a license, camping in the same area longer than the Parks Service's seven-day limit, improper food storage, wildlife harassment, and conflicts with visitors and their guides. Treadwell also frustrated authorities by refusing to install an electric fence around his camp and refusing to carry bear spray to use as a deterrent.
In watching Treadwell in the video above, you get the distinct impression that his view of the wild bears is more akin to one of a child watching Yogi Bear cartoons. Treadwell's worldview is more in line with Yogi's "Jellystone National Park" rather than the real world.
To truly grasp the size and power of these animals, look at this "tame" Kodiak bear raised with humans since birth. (And remember that Treadwell was fooling around with wild ones.)
In 2003, Treadwell made his annual pilgrimage to Alaska, this time taking his girlfriend Anna Huguenard with him. In Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog states that according to Treadwell's diaries, Huguenard feared bears and felt deeply uncomfortable in their presence. Her final journal entries indicated that she wanted to be away from Katmai. Treadwell chose to set his campsite near a salmon stream where grizzlies commonly feed in autumn. Treadwell was in the park later in the year than usual, at a time when bears struggle to gain as much fat as possible before winter, and limited food supplies cause them to be more aggressive than in other months. Food was scarce that fall, causing the grizzly bears to be even more aggressive than usual.
Treadwell was to leave the park at his usual time of year but extended his stay a week in an effort to locate a favorite female brown bear. He said he hated modern civilization and felt better in nature with the bears than he did in big cities around humans. He repeatedly said he hated humans, too. The bears he had been used to during the summer had already gone into hibernation, and bears that Treadwell did not know from other parts of the park were moving into the area. Some of the last footage taken by Treadwell, hours before his death, includes video of a bear diving into the river repeatedly for a piece of dead salmon. Treadwell mentioned in the footage that he did not feel entirely comfortable around that particular bear. In Grizzly Man, Herzog posits that Treadwell may have filmed the very bear that killed him.
When his chartered floatplane pilot arrived on the pre-arranged date to pick him up, the pilot saw a large bear guarding what appeared to be a human carcass. He alerted the authorities who immediately flew in, had to kill the bear and found the mangled remains of Treadwell and Huguenard. Treadwell's disfigured head, partial spine, and right forearm and hand, with his wristwatch still on, were recovered a short distance from the camp. Huguenard's partial remains were found next to the torn and collapsed tents, partially buried in a mound of twigs and dirt. A large male grizzly (tagged Bear 141) protecting the campsite was killed by park rangers during their attempt to retrieve the bodies. A second adolescent bear was also killed a short time later, when it charged the park rangers. An on-site necropsy of Bear 141 revealed human body parts such as fingers and limbs. The younger bear was consumed by other animals before it could be necropsied. In the 85-year history of Katmai National Park, this was the first known incident of a person being killed by a bear.
A worldview is good insofar as it reflects true reality. The veracity of one's worldview is directly proportional to their grasp of absolute truth. A perfect worldview accurately and perfectly reflects reality. Treadwell's delusional worldview killed both him and his girlfriend.
During the bear attack that killed Timothy Treadwell on the 5th of October, 2003 a 6-minute recording was made from his camera of the fatal attack. However the lens cap was left on so no video was captured, only audio. The camera was recovered and the audio of the Grizzly Man’s death was given to a close friend of Treadwell (Jewel Palovak) who has said she will never listen to it. She has allowed others to listen to it though. A 1 minute 51 second clip from the "Grizzly Man" death video was rumored to be leaked and began showing up on YouTube and other media outlets. The audio's authenticity is hotly debated, with the consensus being that it's a fake. The camera recorded only six minutes of audio before running out of tape. This, however, was enough time to record the bear's initial attack on Treadwell and his agonized screams, its retreat when Huguenard attacked it, its return to carry Treadwell off into the forest, and Huguenard's screams of horror as she is left alone.
The real recording is so disturbing that Werner Herzog who produced a documentary on Treadwell ("Grizzly Man") and listened to it, warns the owner of the recording that she must never listen to it and should destroy it.
As Jim Lynch observed here,
We now have two dead human beings and two dead bears. And for what? Nothing except the self-promoting vanity and self-deceiving delusions of a man who apparently had nothing better to do with his life than harass wild animals that really wanted nothing more than to be left alone.There’s more to this story, unfortunately, though. Treadwell’s death is indicative of two dangerous trends. The first is the tendency of stars of nature documentaries and television programs to try to get as close as physically possible to dangerous animals and the second is the anthropomorphization of wild animals by animal rights advocates.
.... He comes across as totally out to lunch about the *reality* of what he’s doing and where he is. Even his photos contain cutesy names for the bears such as “Holly Bear” or “Taffy Bear.” One can’t help but wonder what went wrong in Treadwell’s life that could produce such an infantile perception of dangerous predators. Or perhaps it’s just more evidence of the “Disney-ification” of our society. We seem to have become so cut off from nature that some of us have lost all sense of reality.
.... And reality is the key word here, folks. Some of us just don’t seem to live in it sometimes. Timothy Treadwell was a man who tried to ignore the reality of what wild bears are and that decision ultimately cost him and his girlfriend their lives. (emphasis is mine)
A disturbing, detailed account of what the authorities encountered at the attack site is here.
There's a stark lesson to be learned here. Tragically, the majority of people in this fallen world hold delusional worldviews that will be their final undoing in the end.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it (Matt 7:13, NIV)