RCMP officers have confirmed that a Canadian man, identified as composer Julien Gauthier, has died after being attacked by a grizzly bear in a remote area of the Northwest Territories last week. According to an eye-witness, the 44-year-old man was awoken by the bear in the middle of the night and dragged away from his tent into the darkness. The man's body was found by RCMP officers the next day.
Musician and sound-man Julien Gauthier was travelling across the Mackenzie River in the remote Tulita area of the Northwest Territories, in order to record sounds of nature for a musical project he was working on. According to a crowdfunding page prior to his trip, Gauthier had planned to canoe down the Mackenzie River from Fort Providence to Inuvik, recording the sounds of Canada's nature and wildlife on his way.
However, on Aug. 15 at approximately 7:45 a.m. the RCMP was alerted to the sound of a distress beacon in the Tulita area, from a remote location that was only accessible by sea or air. An RCMP helicopter was sent to the approximate area and evacuated all travellers.
After a day of searching through poor weather conditions, Gauthier’s body was discovered by police officers.
According to Camille Toscani, a biologist who had been travelling with Mr Gauthier, he had been dragged away by a grizzly bear in the middle of the night. Paying tribute to her friend, Toscani explained, "He had asked me to take part in this adventure, we had been thinking about it for three years. We were so happy to get to do it.”
The Brittany Symphony Orchestra, where Gauthier had worked since 2017, also paid tribute to his life, calling him "a sensitive, generous and talented man" who had "a sense of adventure, wonder and rare intelligence."
The tribute continued, "It was his dream to go there, to go to the North."
Following reports of a fatality, officials from the territorial Department of Environment and Natural Resources euthanized two bears, including one grizzly. Both bears were found in close proximity to where Gauthier’s body had been discovered.
Spokesperson for the department, Meagan Wohlberg confirmed that this would be the fourth bear-related fatality in the Northwest Territories in the last 20 years.
She explained, “Human-bear encounters in the Northwest Territories are not out of the ordinary, although fatalities are rare."
Cathy Menard, the territory's chief coroner, confirmed to CBC News that the man’s body was in Edmonton, awaiting an autopsy. An official cause of death is expected to be released as early as this week.