Was Photographer Michio Hoshino Killed by a Bear?

An image reportedly captures a bear seconds before the ursine mauled its photographer to death.

  • Published 2 June 2009

Claim

An image captures a bear seconds before the ursine mauled its photographer to death.

Rating

Origin

Photographs taken in the moments before tragedy strikes pose an especial fascination for us, as exemplified by such widely-circulated images as those supposedly depicting a tourist atop New York’s World Trade Center on the morning of the 9/11 terrorist attack and an extreme close-up of a bovine charging a photographer during a “running of the bulls event. (Neither of these images actually depicted what was claimed of them in their Internet-circulated versions, though.)

Photographs of this nature tend to be rare, as they require that the victim have a camera readily at hand and the presence of mind to stolidly snap away as the final moments of his life flash before his eyes, or to capture by happenstance a danger to which he was oblivious at the time. The former is the circumstance claimed of the picture displayed below, purportedly taken by a wildlife photographer just before he was mauled to death in his tent by a bear:

Michio Hoshino, a photographer known for his pictures of bears and other wildlife, was mauled to death by a brown bear on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia. He was in his mid-40’s and lived in Fairbanks, Alaska. This is the last photo he took.

The putative victim named in the text accompanying this image, Michio Hoshino, was in fact a real wildlife photographer who died after being mauled by a brown bear on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia in August 1996. However, this picture was neither taken by Hoshino nor recorded the circumstances of his death: it’s an entry from a Worth1000 Photoshop competition in which contestants were tasked with creating “a last-photo hoax: the final photograph of the victim, whoever he might be, had a camera on him right before ‘it’ happens.”

Snopes.com
Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

Editorial
  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
Operations
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes