The Myth & The Actual Giant Grizzly Bear Story
This is a discussion on The Myth & The Actual Giant Grizzly Bear Story within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; This email tale, circulating constantly in one form or another since November 2001, seems to grow taller year by year. Ironically, the first two snapshots ...
April 4th, 2006 04:16 PM
The Myth & The Actual Giant Grizzly Bear Story
This email tale, circulating constantly in one form or another since November 2001, seems to grow taller year by year. Ironically, the first two snapshots — the ones showing a hunter posing beside the carcass of an incredibly large Alaskan brown bear — are authentic. We know where and when they were taken, and by whom. The origin of the third photo purporting to show the remains of the behemoth's final victim is unknown. It was appended to the already-circulating email in late 2002.
Not quite a world record
In real life, the big grizzly in the first two photographs measured 10' 6" from nose to tail and weighed an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 pounds — unusually large for the vicinity in which it was found, says the USDA Forest Service, but not quite a world record, nor even a record for Alaska. It was killed on October 14, 2001 by U.S. Air Force Airman Theodore Winnen on Hinchinbrook Island, Prince William Sound. The photos were taken by his hunting partner, Staff Sgt. James Urban. Both were stationed at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks at the time.
Though the bear was within 10 yards of the hunters' position and moving towards them when he fired the first shot, Winnen says, it did not charge them, contrary to what the email claims. "I don't know if the wind was in our favor or what," he told the Anchorage Daily News. "We were dressed in camouflage. He might not have seen us." Winnen's weapon was a 338-caliber Winchester Magnum, not a 7mm semi-automatic as alleged. The first bullet pierced the bear's brain but left it standing; five more in the chest brought it down.
Was the bear a man-eater, as claimed in the email? No, says the Forest Service, there is no evidence of that. When asked by the Anchorage Daily News to comment on the horrific final image of what appears to be a partially-eaten human victim, Forest Service spokesman Ray Massey admitted he hadn't even looked at it. "I didn't want to see a photo of the body," he said. "I know it's bogus."
The Actual Story
Forest Service's details give the lie to monster hunting myth
Griz wasn't a record and had not killed anyone as far as it is known
By PETER PORCO
Anchorage Daily News
Published: May 7, 2003
Last Modified: May 8, 2003 at 02:02 AM
Tina in Louisiana wanted to know if the photographs were real. So did Martin, a pastor from Michigan, who wrote, "Are you able to verify for us that they are indeed genuine and true?"
Both Tina and Martin, sending separate e-mail messages to the U.S. Forest Service in Juneau with attached photos of a grizzly killed in Prince William Sound in the fall of 2001, had written their heart-felt wonderment atop a message string that included this text, from a previous e-mail writer:
"Think about it. This thing on its hind legs could walk up to the average single-story house and could look on the roof at eye level."
There was never a question that the brown bear that 22-year-old airman Ted Winnen shot to death in October 2001 on Hinchinbrook Island was huge.
The grizzly measured 10 feet, 6 inches from nose to tail. Its front claws were three to four inches long. An Alaska master guide estimated the bear's weight at up to 1,200 pounds. (Average brown bear weight for Hinchinbrook is less than half that.)
One photo shows Winnen holding the bear's paw as it obscures almost all of his chest. A second photo shows Winnen crouched looking like a child behind the bear's massive, bloody head.
But the "legend" e-mail, as Forest Service spokesman Ray Massey calls the tale that's been making the Internet rounds all this time, has converted the bear into a monster of impossible proportions.
It's now "over one thousand six hundred pounds ... 12'6" high at the shoulder," reads one message Massey has received.
E-mail exaggerations about the animal began to circulate little more than a month after Winnen, stationed at the time at Eielson Air Force Base, shot it while deer hunting with several partners.
Some of the early e-mails reached the Daily News, and the paper published a story about the kill in December 2001 accompanied by the two photos taken by one of Winnen's partners, Eielson Staff Sgt. Jim Urban.
Despite the newspaper story, the e-mails did not stop. Nor did calls to the agency from print and TV reporters wanting to know if the e-mail version was true.
"I've gotten calls from media all over the world," Massey said one day last week. "I got a call from London today."
The Forest Service, which manages the Chugach National Forest encompassing Prince William Sound, gets three or four e-mails about the bear every week that have to be answered, Massey said.
Many of the messages are from people who are skeptical and want confirmation of their doubts from the agency. About 30 percent of the messages come from hunters who are all but certain the tale is a tall one.
What's got Massey somewhat concerned, however, is that the circumstances of the bear's death morphed some time ago into what he terms an urban myth -- about a killer beast taken down by a Forest Service employee.
"He was out deer hunting when a large world class Griz charged him from about 50 yards away," according to one e-mail tale that has been circulating. "The guy unloaded a 7mm Mag Semi-auto into the bear and it dropped a few feet from him. This thing was still alive, so he reloaded and capped it in the head. ... It's a world record. This bear had killed a couple of other people."
The bear was not a record, and it didn't kill anyone, as far as is known. It was coming toward Winnen and Urban from about 10 yards away, but it may not have seen them. And Winnen used a .338-caliber Winchester Magnum.
Hoping to debunk the myths, Massey answers the e-mails with plenty of details about the actual size of the bear and the hunt. The Forest Service's Web site provides a news release about the hunt and the rumors.
But now a third photo is making the rounds, a picture that supposedly shows a person's body, the bear's victim.
Massey never opened that attachment, he said.
"I didn't want to see a photo of the body. I know it's bogus."
Massey says there's no way to know how many people are reading the false stuff as the message travels the globe. He just scratches his head and says that, 19 months after the hunt, the story is still going.
"It's like the Energizer bunny," he said. "I have no doubt the Internet is keeping it moving. Otherwise it would have died a long time ago."
Daily News reporter Peter Porco can be reached at email@example.com or 257-4582.
April 4th, 2006 04:41 PM
That is interesting -- when we saw this at work, we got the actual story, a guy had shot a big bear. Dumb me had no idea this had turned into some evil killer giant bear, etc, etc. Wow.
I really need to get into writing stuff and sending it around the internet. "I turned the corner, and a giant Boston Terrier charged. He tried to kick me...." (ok, he was walking and lifted his leg).
April 4th, 2006 05:07 PM
VIP Member (Retired Staff)
Danged hard these days to know all of what is actually true or not.
All made harder by the skills of some folks photoshopping pics to make the impossible seem possible!
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
"To own a gun and assume that you are armed
is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."
- a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.
April 4th, 2006 06:18 PM
I think we need a little integrity infusion into our society.
April 4th, 2006 06:24 PM
Where's the third picture?
April 4th, 2006 06:36 PM
I can tell ya the 3rd pic isnt going to be posted here on this site .. Ive seen it and its not the kind of stuff bumper wants posted
April 4th, 2006 07:12 PM
Almost have to ask, what brought this up?
EOD - Initial success or total failure
April 4th, 2006 08:57 PM
What Brought It Up
Oh...sorry but, the thread post by Forum Member BlueLion about switching to a larger caliber handgun.
Oh...to answer the other question: ~ "Where Is The Third Picture?"
It's a photo of a half eaten decomposed human body with the leg sticking up & just the gnawed up leg bone showing.
I decided not to post it. If you've seen one half rotted & eaten human body...you've seen them all.
April 4th, 2006 10:20 PM
just like people telling fish stories of the one that got away, everyone has to exagerate a little bit to make the story seem more dramatic, still pretty cool how big it is, i'd hate to run across that bear
April 5th, 2006 02:34 PM
Yeah, I hate it when that happens. Kinda takes away the appetite, ya know?
Originally Posted by QKShooter
April 5th, 2006 07:07 PM
Sorry if I sounded morbid. I knew the true story behind the bear (who shot it, where, etc..) because it was big news around the bases and I learned of it from some friends that I keep in touch with.
I wasn't aware that it had morphed into the "killer bear" story so I had never seen the picture (3rd) that had been circulated with the originals.
And from your description, I really am not all that interested now.
Sorry if I gave the wrong impression. Was just interested how it got/was morphed into something that it wasn't :).
April 5th, 2006 07:09 PM
Not a problem wayne it is pretty graphic thats why it wasnt posted...
April 5th, 2006 07:58 PM
There is the "OTHER" killer bear story though - the lunatic that lived with the bears in Alaska. I couldn't find an article online about it but there was a big thing on NPR recently because of a movie he made before he was killed. If I remember, the Pilot found both his remains and those of the girl that was with him.
April 5th, 2006 08:01 PM
Yoshi theres a post here about it and how P.O'ed i was at time i wasted watching movie about this idiot and wanted my time back
April 5th, 2006 08:22 PM
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