US & Canada

Julien Gauthier: Grizzly bear kills soundgathering musician

File picture of grizzly bears Image copyright AFP
Image caption Unprovoked grizzly bear attacks are usually very rare

A Franco-Canadian man died after being attacked by a grizzly bear in a remote area of Canada last week, police announced on Monday.

Julien Gauthier, a 44-year-old musician, was surprised by the animal in his sleep.

He was travelling along the Mackenzie River to record sounds of nature for a musical project.

Unprovoked grizzly bear attacks are usually very rare, conservation officers say.

On 15 August, at approximately 07:45 local time (13:45 GMT), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was alerted by the launch of a distress beacon in the Tulita area on the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories, a largely isolated area accessible only by sea or air.

Camille Toscani, a biologist who had been travelling with Mr Gauthier and raised the alert, said he had been dragged away by a grizzly bear in the middle of the night.

The RCMP sent a helicopter to the area because of bad weather conditions to look for Mr Gauthier and evacuate the travellers. His body was eventually found the next day, reports say.

The victim, who was a composer and soundman, had planned to canoe down the Mackenzie River from Fort Providence to Inuvik (about 1,500 km, or 930 miles), he said on a crowdfunding platform to explain his project.

He was born and grew up in Canada with his two French parents, but moved to France - where he lived - at the age of 19, reports say.

The Brittany Symphony Orchestra, where Mr Gauthier had been a composer in residence since 2017, paid tribute to him, saying he was "a sensitive, generous and talented man" who had "a sense of adventure, wonder and rare intelligence".

"It was his dream to go there, to go to the North," said Ms Toscani.

"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. He was a unique artist, inspired by open spaces and nature," she told Le Parisien newspaper (in French).

Last year, he spent five months recoding sounds in the Kerguelen Islands in Antarctica, and the result of that trip was a piece called Symphonie australe (Southern Symphony), which was broadcast on French radio.

Related Topics

More on this story