A French artist traversing the Canadian wilderness to record nature sounds for a musical project was fatally mauled by a grizzly bear that surprised him in his sleep, according to a travelling partner.
Musician Julien Gauthier, 44, was travelling along the Mackenzie River in Canada’s sparsely populated Northwest Territories to record new sounds for a composition when the attack occurred.
His travelling partner, biologist Camille Toscani, said the grizzly bear entered a camp near the village of Tulita during the early hours of Thursday morning (local time).
She told French newspaper Le Parisien the animal surprised Gauthier in his sleep, grabbed him by the neck and shoulders and dragged him into the forest in the middle of the night.
Authorities received a distress signal from Ms Toscani after she managed to locate another group of hikers, the newspaper reported, and Gauthier’s body was recovered the following day.
According to a crowdfunding page launched by Gauthier, the composer and sound man had planned to canoe down the Mackenzie River from Fort Providence to Inuvik, spanning approximately 1,500 kilometres, from August to September.
He wrote that he would “record and take inspiration from the unusual sounds”, which were to form part of a “mini-concert or installation” he had planned to host in Paris upon his return.
‘He brought a sense of adventure’
In a social media post authored eight days before his death, Gauthier chronicled the “intense, tiring and inspiring” adventure.
He wrote that he and Ms Toscani had encountered four bears and a “trace of a wolf” during the first five days of their expedition.
In short, it’s intense, tiring and inspiring,” he wrote. “And already some very important sounds recorded.”
Ms Toscani said it was “his dream” to visit the remote Canadian region.
“He had asked me to take part in this adventure, we had been thinking about it for three years,” she told Le Parisien.
“He was a particular artist, he was inspired by open spaces and nature.”
The Brittany Symphony Orchestra, where Gauthier worked as a composer, paid tribute to the “sensitive, generous and talented man” in a post on social media.
“His work was faithful to his curious spirit,” manager Marc Feldman wrote.
“He brought a sense of adventure, wonder and a rare intelligence.”