Timothy Treadwell had a loving bond with his beloved bears. Some of the most amazing footage of bears ever published came through Treadwell’s lens. The animal lover died both tragically and violently at age 46. Friday is the ninth anniversary of the day the documentary filmmaker was killed by one of his grizzly bear subjects.
The animal conservationist was born a world away from the Alaskan tundra where he spent his final hours. The Long Island native had a few clashes with the law and reportedly suffered from alcohol and drug problems. While living in California, Tim Treadwell aspired to be an actor, while working regular shifts as a bartender, Radar Online notes.
The man often referred to as a bear’s best friend, was allegedly devastated when he lost the role of popular Cheers character, Woody Boyd, to Woody Harrelson. The Sadness over the missed television acting job allegedly sparked heavy drinking and eventually a trip into the wilderness.
During his trip to Alaska, he camped in the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. Treadwell fell in love with the natural beauty of the area and went from spending every summer in the region to eventually living among the large bears which also called the beautiful environment home.
Tim detailed the movements of the bears in his now famous diary. Some insiders claim the bears allowed the documentary maker to play with their young cubs. In 1999, Grizzly Diaries was aired by the Discovery Channel, making Tim an instant celebrity.
He toured the country teaching school children about bears and making appearances on popular talk shows. He co-authored Grizzlies: Living with Wild Bears in Alaska, with his ex-girlfriend Jewel Palovak. The couple founded a grassroots organization to preserve the wilderness habitat of bears, Grizzly People.
Although he was loved by many due to his conservation efforts, he had multiple citations from park rangers for not following safety rules. Treadwell reportedly did not store food away from his tent and refused to carry bear spray.
While visiting Katmai with his girlfriend, he camped near a salmon stream where grizzly bears often hunted for food. When air taxi pilot Willy Fulton arrived on October 6, to pick up the group, all he found was an empty camp and a lone bear. Park rangers later found the remains of Tim Treadwell and girlfriend, Amie Huguenard.
Tim’s right forearm, hand, disfigured head, and a partial spine were found not far from the camp. Huguenard was found partially buried in a mound of twigs and dirt near the collapsed tents. Human remains were also found in the stomach of a grizzly bear near the camp. A video camera found at the scene captured six minutes of an audio recording featuring the agonized screams of the bear attack victims. Treadwell’s work and violent death were the focus of a Werner Herzog 2005 film, Grizzly Man.