Fact Check

Was Photographer Michio Hoshino Killed by a Bear?

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

Published Jun 2, 2009

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

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."

Sources

The New York Times.   "Michio Hoshino Dies While Filming Bears."     22 September 1996.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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