Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Bear Attacks Statistics 2024 – Global Injuries & Fatalities

By admin Jun1,2024

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Have you ever wondered just how many bear attacks occur each year? I am lucky, I live in a part of the world where bears are not an issue for anybody.

However, bears remain fascinating creatures that have a longstanding and intertwined history with humankind.

Growing up, the closest I got to seeing bears was watching Saturday morning cartoons. That said, I did once come close to a couple of black bears while horseback riding through the Canadian wilderness on a holiday excursion one summer.

The truth is, you have approximately a 0.02% chance of being attacked by a bear. Yet, despite these low odds, bear attacks still occur, especially in North America. Keep reading to learn the most interesting facts and statistics that shine a truthful light on Yogi and Boo-Boo.

Eye-Opening Facts at a Glance

Bear Attack Hotspots

  • Montana’s Glacier National Park: Located in Montana, this large rocky mountain national park covers 1,583 square miles and has over 700km of hiking trails. Glacier National Park is home to black bears and grizzly bears.
  • Yellowstone National Park: This park covers 3,500 square miles and three separate states. It is home to a wide range of natural wonders, including Old Faithful. Yellowstone is home to black bears and brown bears, with black bears being the most common.
  • NW corner of Wyoming: The northwest corner of Wyoming is home to black and grizzly bears, many of whom wander from Yellowstone.
  • Algonquin Provincial Park Ontario, Canada: At nearly 3,000 square miles, Algonquin national park is home to the black bear. However, with an estimated population of just 2,000, they remain a relatively uncommon sight.

Three species of bear are native to North America, and one of these is the polar bear. With such a wide dispersal range, there are still four key hotspots for bear-related attacks.

 Bear Attack Statistics

bear-related attack stats

From 2020-2022, there were 6 fatal grizzly bear attacks and 2 fatal black bear maulings in the US. (Alaskan frontier)

In addition to reported incidents, some dangerous bear encounters go unreported. Often, people are charged by bears but do not end up injured. Bear encounters and attacks have increased in recent years, largely due to humans encroaching on bear habitats.

There Are 40 Bear Attacks on Humans Worldwide Every Year. (Nature)

Nature reported a global attack rate of 39.6 attacks (approximately 40 attacks) per year, with 11.4 attacks per year in North America and 18.2 attacks per year in Europe (excluding Romania, which brings it down to 10 attacks per year). However, the reported rate of 19 attacks per year in the East is likely underestimated due to insufficient data from several regions.

The Majority of Attacks Occur Because Bears Feel Threatened or Are Protecting Their Young. (National Park Service)

attacks by bears in usa

According to the National Park Service, male brown bears are more likely to attack a human than a female. While bears are aggressive wild animals, they will not proactively hunt a human. The only exception to that would be if the bear were suffering from very severe starvation.

Almost 1 in 2.1 Million Chances of Being Attacked by a Bear. (National Park Service)

Attacks by bears are rare. In fact, the chance of being attacked by a bear is just 1 in 2.1 million.

If you further analyze those odds, the numbers move even further in your favor. If you camp at a roadside campground, the odds increase to 1 in 26.6 million. While the chance of an attack by bear while hiking in the backcountry is a staggeringly rare 1 in 232,613 individual travel days.

Most Attacks by Polar Bear Happen in July and December. (BBC, The Wildlife Society)

how many people do bears kill a year

These are the deadliest months because ice coverage is at its smallest, and polar bears and humans are that much closer in proximity.

Between 2000–2015, There Were 664 Brown Bear Attacks on People Worldwide. (Springer Nature)

Brown Bear

It is estimated that there are over 200,000 brown bears left in the wild, and over 50% of them live in Russia. The rest are spread through Europe and North America. There were 95 fatal attacks in those 664 brown bear attack incidents.

48 Fatal Bear Attacks in North America From 2000–2017. (Alaska’s News Source)

Out of these numbers, 25 attacks were from black bears and 21 from grizzly bears. Some attacks resulted in multiple fatalities. Interestingly, there were no fatal polar bear attacking incidents during that time.

2022 Has Seen an Increase in Bear Attack Numbers in the US. (The Guardian)

Bear Attack Numbers in the US

An article published in The Guardian confirmed an increase in the number of attacks. These generally unprovoked predatory attacks are caused by a combination of the steady growth of wild bears and the continued encroachment of humans into bear habitats.

11 Fatal Bear Attacks in Romania Between 2000–2015. (Wilderness Society)

Romania has a wild brown bear population of around 6,000. However, as their numbers increase, the rate of wild bears attacking humans is rising. In 2019 alone, Romania saw 6 fatal brown bear attacks.

Between 2016 and 2021, Romania experienced 14 fatalities and 158 injuries due to attacks. (Phys.org)

Since 2016, trophy hunting of bears has been banned in Romania, and only “specialized technical personnel” are permitted to shoot them.

Recently, lawmakers have proposed a bill to allow the killing of nearly 500 bears annually.

Half of 92 Bear Attacks in North America Involved a Dog. (CBC News)

Research conducted by the University of Calgary revealed that out of 92 studied attacks, 49 involved dogs.

A school of thought for this is the biological link between a domestic dog and wolves and the predatory battles between wolves and bears. When out in bear country, keeping dogs on a leash is always advisable.

Bear-related Attacks Rarely Involve Domestic Cats. (British Columbia Parks)

While there are no statistics directly related to encounters between bears and domestic cats, many experts believe bears are fearful of all felines due to frequent encounters with large wild cats.

In 2022, 178 Reports of Bears Attacking Backyard Chickens Were Received. (Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department)

This spike in attacks is a result of increased bear numbers and an ever-dwindling supply of food. Bears are attracted to populated areas by nuts and berries left on birdfeeders, while chickens also present a convenient snack.

Since Yellowstone National Park Was Established in 1872, Only 8 People Have Been Fatally Injured by Bears. (NPS)

Yellowstone National Park is the eighth largest park in the United States, yet since 1872, the NPS has recorded just 8 fatal bear-related attacks.

Interestingly, all of the attacks were by grizzly bear.

In the same time period, there have been 125 people died from downing and 25 as a result of hot spring burns.

Black Bear Attack Statistics

Black Bear Attack Statistics

One Fatal Black Bear Attack per Year in the US. (Bear.org)

The 750,000 black bears of North America kill less than one person per year. In comparison, men aged 18-24 are 167 times more likely to kill someone than a black bear.

The black bear is the least aggressive bear species and only attacks humans when startled or in self-defense.

Over the span of 16 years (2000-2016), there have been 23 confirmed fatal attacks by black bears. (Appalachian trail)

Only two of these incidents occurred on the Appalachian Trail, and both were in Tennessee.

Grizzly Bear Attack Statistics

Grizzly Bear Attack Statistics

Grizzly Is the Most Aggressive Bear With a Bite Force of Over 1,160 PSI. (Science Focus)

This is why hikers are strongly advised to avoid grizzlies whenever possible. Besides their massive size and razor-sharp claws, their bite is strong enough to crush a bowling ball—or even a human skull—without effort.

Yearly, There Are Approximately 44 Grizzly Bear Attacks Globally. (Scientific Report)

This data was derived from studying fifteen years of data pertaining to attacks by grizzly bears.

Humans Are Responsible for 71% of Grizzly Bear Deaths. (Vital Ground Foundation)

bear deaths in natural environment

While traffic accidents are not the main cause of premature bear fatalities, they do contribute significantly to the number of bear deaths.

As humans further encroach on bear territory both in terms of urban expansion and recreational excursions into bear country, the rate of deadly human bear conflict grows.

Alaska Bear Attack Statistics

The US State With the Most Bear Attacks Is Alaska. (Alaska’s News Source)

According to a report, the state is accountable for 29.6% of all fatal attacks.

For consideration, Alaska has the highest concentration of bears out of all fifty US states and is the only state home to all three native bear species.

6 Fatal Bear Attacks in Alaska Between 2008–2018. (ADN)

While Alaskans live in close proximity to bears, there were just six fatal bear attacks in a decade between 2008 and 2018. Two of which were caused by polar bears.

However, many experts fear that as global warming continues to impact the planet, the rate of attacks by polar bears of other species will rise. There have already been two fatal attacks in 2023.

Bear Attack Statistics California

In 2022, There Were Several High-Profile Cases of Black Bears Breaking Into Homes in California. (CBS Sacramento, CNN)

serious injuries by large carnivores

As reported by CNN, in 2022, a group of large black bears, led by the 500 lbs Hank the Tank, broke into 28 California homes while causing damage to 33. Nobody was injured during the attack.

The wild black bears were calorie-loading in preparation for the upcoming hibernation.

No Fatal Bear Attacks in California Since 1986. (California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

This is partly due to the fact that California black bears, which are the only species of bear found in the state, are generally less aggressive toward humans than grizzly or brown bears.

There were 25 attacks reported during the same period, and while they resulted in numerous injuries, none of them proved fatal.

Appalachian Trail Bear Attacks Statistics

Appalachian Trail Statistics Show That One Fatal Black Bear Attack Occurs Every 8–10 Years. (Appalachian Trail)

According to Appalachian Trail Histories, with 3 million people a year hitting the trail, the odds of suffering an attack by a bear come in at 1 in 30 million.

From 2000–2016, Only Two Fatal Black Bear Attacks on People on the Appalachian Trail. (Appalachian Trail)

The American Black Bear, covered mostly in black except for a brown muzzle, weighs between 100 to 400 pounds. Despite being the most feared animal on the Appalachian Trail, they are not as dangerous as many believe.

Glacier National Park Bear Attack Statistics

In 1967, Glacier National Park Saw Two Fatal Bear Attacks on the Same Day. (Smithsonian Magazine)

The summer of 1967 saw two separate and unrelated deaths from attacks by bears on the same day, just a few hours apart. As documented in Smithsonian Magazine, the two females, both 19, were out camping when they were carried away by brown bears.

The events were the first fatal attacks in the park’s history and ushered in a complete overhaul of the bear management system.

No fatal bear attacks in Glacier National Park since 1998. (NPS)

Glacier National Park sees over 3 million visitors per year, and yet, despite the high bear populations, there has not been a fatal bear incident since 1998.

As documented in park literature, records for the park go back to 1910, and all fatal bear-related incidents happened between 1967 and 1998.

In total, there have been 10 bear-related deaths at the part out of over 111 million visitors.

Deaths in Yosemite Statistics

Between 1998 to 2020, bear attacks in Yosemite Valley decreased by 98% (Yosemite National Park)

As compared to 2019, the year with the lowest number of bear attacks, there has been a rise in incidents. However, bears mostly attack humans for the food they carry and are not that interested in humans per se.

54 Bear Attacks on Humans in the US Yosemite National Park in 2021. (NPS)

However, the number of bear-related incidents has decreased over the years as it is illegal to leave food in the park.

bear-related attack statistics

Why Do Bears Attack Humans?

Usually, there are two types of attacks.

Female bears may attack a human to protect their young one or food source. This attack by mother black bear is known as the defensive reaction attack. The same bear may also attack if it gets startled. You may unintentionally turn the corner and be just a few feet away from a bear, which may immediately react and attack you.

Another behavior that bears may exhibit is “bluff charge.” It is not an attack per se, it’s just the animal giving signals that you are trespassing on its safe space and making the bear uncomfortable.

The other type of attack is the predatory attack; the bear sees you as a food source, but these attacks are extremely rare.

How Can You Avoid a Bear Attack?

Identify yourself calmly to the bear so it knows you’re human. Stand still, wave your arms slowly, and don’t panic. Most bears don’t want to attack; they just want to be left alone. Hike with other campers and make yourselves look large. If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways to keep an eye on it. Do not run; if the bear follows, stop and stand your ground. Avoid climbing trees, as both grizzlies and black bears can climb.

Carrying bear pepper spray is important when exploring the backcountry. Bear spray can be used for bear safety to stop an aggressive, charging, or attacking bear.

FAQs

How many people die from bear attacks?

According to research from the National Park Service, approximately 11% of attacks by brown bears are fatal. The majority of attacks on humans are because the bears feel threatened. Bears lash out to protect their cubs or their food.

What bear kills the most humans?

The grizzly bear is the most dangerous bear. Research reveals that an attack by grizzly bear is 3.5 times more dangerous than attacks from polar bears and 21 times more dangerous than black bear.

Do bears eat humans?

Bears typically don’t eat humans. Although bears are omnivores and do consume meat, they usually avoid humans. Humans are not a regular part of a bear’s diet, so they don’t try to kill people and don’t see us as a desirable food source.

Conclusion

Bears are indigenous across most of the United States, and while the chances of being attacked by a bear are slim, they do happen.

The statistics show that while many people survive their encounters with wild bears, it is always a case of being prepared and knowing what to do in case of an attack.

Have you ever seen a bear while out in the wild? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences.

By admin

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