World Record Grizzly Bear With Photos - Urban Legends

Is It Eating Humans?

Are emailed pictures of a giant, 1,600-pound, man-eating grizzly bear allegedly killed in Alaska by a hunter or Forest Service employee real or fake? The story, circulated since November 2001, appears to be true.

Authenticity of the Gargantuan Grizzly

This forwarded email tale seems to grow taller by the year. It has been established that at least two of the accompanying snapshots 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 "last victim" is unknown. It was appended to the email already, circulating in late 2002 and doesn't appear to have been taken at the same time as the others.

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, according to 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.

No man-eater, says Forest Service

Was the bear a man-eater, as claimed in the email? The Forest Service says 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, adding, "I know it's bogus."

Sample Emails About the World Record Grizzly

Here's sample email text contributed by Robyn on Dec. 4, 2001:

Subject: Alaskan Hunting Story (JPEG: Alaskan Bear & Paw)

This bear was killed by an airman from Elmendorf on Hitchenbrook Island. The bear stood 12'6" and estimated over 1600 lbs. The airman was walking to his hunting area and the bear boy stood up only 35 yards away. The bear dropped down and charged straight for the Airman. He unloaded his gun and the bear fell 10 yards from him.

A sample email contributed by Cindy V. on Jan. 24, 2003:

Subject: This is why you don't mess with Grizzly bears

WARNING: This is not a joke and is pretty gross. If you are faint of heart or stomach don't look at grizz.jpg

This is why you don't mess with Grizzly bears! Warning- the Grizzly picture is pretty gross; it's what's left of one of his victims!

The following pictures are of a guy who works for the forest Service In Alaska. He was out deer hunting. A large world record Griz charged him from about 50 yards away.

The guy unloaded a 7mm Mag Semi-auto into the bear and it dropped a Few feet from him. The thing was still alive so he reloaded and capped it in The head. It was over one thousand six hundred pounds, 12'6" high at the shoulder. It's a world record. The bear had killed a couple of other people. Of course, the game department did not let him keep it. Think about it: This thing on its hind legs could walk up to the average single story house and look on the roof at eye level.

WARNING: The following pages contain graphic images which some readers
may find disturbing.

More outrageous animals:
Hoax Quiz: Can YOU Spot the Fakes???
Image Gallery: Crazy Critters!
Photo Fakery: Animals & Insects

Sources and further reading:

Monster Brown Bear Urban Legend Debunked
USDA Forest Service news advisory, Oct 17, 2002

The Truth About Alaska's Monster Bear
Anchorage Daily News, May 7, 2003

Giant Bear Grows on the Internet
Anchorage Daily News

Legend Brewin'
Anchorage Daily News, Dec 16. 2001