Do Black Bears Attack Humans?

Predatory attacks on humans by black bears are extremely rare, but experts are offering insight as to how some of them may start after a woman was killed in Canada by a black bear while searching for her dogs.

He suggested arming yourself with some type of weapon, such as a gun or big stick, “especially if the dog is running back to you for protection.” In one of bear attacks that occurred in Minnesota, a person in the group bashed it over the head with a canoe paddle, he said.

Yelling or banging pots and pans may do the trick as well, Garshelis said, while Rogers advised using pepper spray to encourage bears to retreat. An article on the website for Orvis , a retail company that specializes in fishing, hunting and sporting goods, suggests that dog owners “quietly and quickly leave the area” if the bear has not spotted you, but if it has, to “keep your dog close and calm, avoiding sudden movements.”

Will a black bear attack you if it sees you?

Most bears will avoid humans if they hear them coming. … Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second.

Are black bears friendly to humans?

Black bears, for instance, are usually less aggressive and more tolerant of people. They often live near human settlements, whereas grizzly bears prefer to stay away from human settlements and are often extirpated from heavily used or populated areas.

Are black bears aggressive?

In most cases, black bears are relatively shy, only acting aggressively as a last resort. Nevertheless, the most effective way to avoid a bear attack is by preventing encounters in the first place. Just because black bears can be less dangerous than other large carnivores doesn’t mean fatal attacks don’t happen.

Do bears attack humans unprovoked?

Fact: Bear attacks are extremely rare. Although there are thousands of human-bear encounters every year, only a very few result in personal injury. Most bears will actually retreat before you are even aware of their presence.

Seeing a bear in the wild is a special treat for any visitor to a national park. While it is an exciting moment, it is important to remember that bears in national parks are wild and can be dangerous. Their behavior is sometimes unpredictable. Although rare, attacks on humans have occurred, inflicting serious injuries and death. Each bear and each experience is unique; there is no single strategy that will work in all situations and that guarantees safety. Most bear encounters end without injury. Following some basic guidelines may help to lessen the threat of danger. Your safety can depend on your ability to calm the bear.

When you arrive in a park, always remember to check with the nearest visitor center or backcountry office for the latest bear safety information. National parks in Alaska created a safety sticker to share steps for avoiding an unwelcome encounter with a bear.

Pay attention to your surroundings and make a special effort to be noticeable if you are in an area with known bear activity or a good food source, such as berry bushes. Bears may also react defensively by woong, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Make sure you select an EPA approved product that is specifically designed to stop aggressive bears.

Most fatal attacks by North American black bears during the past century were conducted by lone, male animals that stalked and then killed their human victims as prey, according to a new study by the world’s top authority on what triggers bear attacks.

“With training, people can learn to recognize the behavior of a bear that is considering them as prey and deter an attack by taking aggressive action such as fighting back.” Still, the scientists cautioned, the risk of being attacked by non-captive, free-roaming black bears in the wild (or even the backyards of human settlements) of North America remains exceedingly small — even in Alaska or Canada.

Reducing this risk even further might hinge on recognizing predatory behavior by the animals when it happens, and then taking other reasonable precautions when traveling or living in black bear territory, they said. The study Fatal Attacks by American Black Bear on People: 19002009 appeared this week in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal published by the Wildlife Society . Over the past 40 years, Herrero, the lead author, pioneered the practice of applying biological and forensic insight to investigate why black and brown bears attack, maul and sometimes kill people in North America .

His current coauthors were Canadian scientist Andrew Higgins, James Cardoza and Laura Hajduk with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and bear biologist Tom Smith of Brigham Young University. “Instead, lone male black bears hunting people as a potential source of food are a greater cause of deadly maulings and related predatory attempts.” Faced with this chilling, single-minded tableau, people should use “all possible deterrents such as bear spray, loud noises, fists, firearms, rocks, knives, or clubs,” the authors wrote.

In working closely with wild bears for over 50 years, I have gradually become more and more comfortable with them as I learned their language and how they think. I have learned to trust certain bears and bear families to the extent that they mostly ignore me as I walk and sleep with them for up to 24 hours at a time.

The damage from a slap is nothing close to the folklore that a bear can disembowel man or beast with a swipe of the paw. Most attacks by black bears are defensive reactions to a person who is too close, which is an easy situation to avoid.

Besides pepper spray, throwing stones is also effective, especially if you yell and act aggressive at the same time. We dont recommend touching wild bears because they may react defensively with a nip or a slap.

Examining 59 attacks across 110 years

The study — Fatal Attacks by American Black Bear on People: 1900–2009 — appeared this week in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal published by the Wildlife Society. Over the past 40 years, Herrero, the lead author, pioneered the practice of applying biological and forensic insight to investigate why black and brown bears attack, maul and sometimes kill people in North America. His current coauthors were Canadian scientist Andrew Higgins, James Cardoza and Laura Hajduk with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and bear biologist Tom Smith of Brigham Young University. Smith is a former Alaskan biologist who conducted ground-breaking research into bear encounters in Katmai National Park.”Our findings raise some important new insights that can be used to better understand the cause of attacks and how they can be avoided in both the front and backcountry,” Herrero said.The study results undercut several assumptions about what poses risks in black bear country.”In particular, the common belief that surprising a mother bear with cubs is the most dangerous kind of black bear encounter is inaccurate,” Herrero said. “Instead, lone male black bears hunting people as a potential source of food are a greater cause of deadly maulings and related predatory attempts.”The authors did find that the incremental increase in human population correlated with the increase in fatal attacks — some 86 percent of the fatalities have occurred since 1960.”We suspect it is because there are more people pursuing recreational and commercial activities in black bear habitat,” Herrero said in the story. “Similarly, we don’t know exactly why there have been more attacks in Canada and Alaska, but we speculate that it could be because bears in those areas are living in less productive habitat with periodic food stress, which may predispose some bears to consider people as prey.”Other insights: