Bear Attack Statistics & Facts in 2024 (Worldwide)

Last Updated on July, 2024

Bears are shy animals who prefer less to zero interaction with humans. Therefore, unprovoked attacks are extremely rare. Currently, the chances of a bear attack are slim and stand at 0.02%. So, unfortunately, they do happen despite being rare. 

Being aware of the history of incidents and statistics gives you more leverage and confidence in case of an expected or unexpected encounter.

Here are some facts and statistics on bear attacks that will put things into better perspective.

Quick Summary

The likelihood of a bear attack is influenced by various factors such as the species of the bear and the location, with grizzly bears posing the greatest threat and Alaska having the highest rate of bear attacks.

Defensive attacks by female bears to protect their cubs or food source are the most common types of bear attacks on humans, and precautionary measures such as traveling in groups, making noise, and using bear deterrents can help prevent them.

Alaska has the highest rate of fatal bear attacks in North America, but other areas such as Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park also have a history of bear incidents.

Table of Contents

Top 10 Harrowing Bear Attack Facts

A brown bear with its mouth open
  • The Possibility of a Bear Attack is Almost 1 in 2.1 Million
  • Majority of Bear Attacks Occur Only When Bears Perceive Humans As a Threat.
  • Every Year There is One Fatal Black Bear Attack in the U.S
  • Every Year, 40 Brown Bear Attacks Occur on Humans Globally
  • Grizzly Bears Are the Most Dangerous of All Bears.
  • Alaska Accounts for the Highest Rate of Fatal Bear Attacks in North America.
  • 71% of Grizzly Bear Deaths Are Linked to Humans
  • The Odds of a Polar Bear Attack is 1-3 Times a Year
  • Polar Bears Are Highly Likely to Attack in July and December.
  • From 2000–2017, There Were 48 Fatal Bear Attacks in North America.

Bear Attack Hotspots

different species of bears around the world

There are 8 bear species in the world. These species are widespread across North America, South America, Europe and Asia. 8 of the 3 species are native to North America: the North American black bear, brown bear (grizzly bear), and polar bear. 

The North American bears are spread across Western Canada and the United States. The U.S. bears are mostly found in Alaska and other states– Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington.

Although the bears are spread across the globe, still there are 4 man hotspots for bear attack encounters;

  • Yellowstone National Park-This park is 3,500 square miles and covers 3 states. The park is home to many natural wonders like the Old Faithful. Both black and brown bears are found here, the more common being the black bears. 
  • Montana’s Glacier National Park- This rocky mountain park in Montana is 1,583 square miles and has over 700 km of hiking trails. Both black bears and grizzly bears are found here.
  • NW corner of Wyoming-This location has black bears and grizzly bears who wander from Yellowstone.
  • Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada– This park is almost 3,000 square miles. There is an estimated population of 2000 black bears, but they are a rare sight.

General Bear Attack Statistics

The Possibility of a Bear Attack is Almost 1 in 2.1 Million

Chances of a bee sting are much more likely than a bear attack. According to the National Park Service, the likelihood of a bear attack encounter is only 1 in 1.2 million. So that’s quite rare.

Digging deeper into these stats increases your chances of not encountering a bear attack. In the event of roadside camping, the odds become 1 in 26.6 million.

It gets even better when backcountry hiking, where the chances become 1 in 232, 613 individual travel days. (1)

From 2000 – to 2017, There Were 46 Fatal Bear Attacks in North America

a stat showing that from 2000 - to 2017, There Were 46 Fatal Bear Attacks in North America

Based on data from several News organizations, Alaska’s New Source says from 2000 to 2017, there were a total of 46 fatal bear attacks that resulted in 48 deaths in North America. 27 of these are in the U.S., and 19 are in Canada.

Black bears were responsible for 25 attacks, and brown bears for 21. No fatal polar bear attacks were reported during this period. (2)

In 2022, There Were 13 Bear Attacks in North America

The above article in the Guardian confirms increased bear attacks in North America during 2022. This is attributed to the natural growth of wild bears and humans’ intrusion into wild bear habitats. (3)

50% of the 92 Bear Attacks in North America Involved a Dog

Further analyzing the 92 bear attacks that occurred in North America, it was revealed that 49 of them involved dogs. (4)

A probable reason behind this could be the descent of dogs from wolves and the predatory between wolves and bears for prey. So exercise caution and always keep dogs on leash when in bear country.

Bear Attacks Involving Domestic Cats Are Rare

Although no established statistics exist on bear attacks against domestic cats, evidence suggests they are relatively rare. (5)

This could be because bears and cougars don’t get along. (6)

Since domestic cats belong to the cougar family, bears may avoid interacting with them.

167 Bear Attacks on Backyard Chickens Were Reported in 2020

a stat of 167 Bear Attacks on Backyard Chickens Were Reported in 2020

According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, 167 bear attacks were reported on backyard chickens. (7)

This spike is linked to increasing bear numbers and diminishing food supply. This attracts the bears into populated areas. Chickens are a convenient snack.

Only 8 Fatal Human Injuries Have Occurred in Yellowstone National Park Since its Establishment in 1872

Despite being the eighth largest, only 8 fatal bear attacks have been reported in Yellowstone National Park since 1872. And all of them were grizzly bear attacks. (8)

Between 1982 and 2018, There Have Been 17 Fatal Bear Attacks in Canada.

Between 1982 and 2018, 140 bear encounters were reported in Canada. 17 of those encounters were fatal attacks. Grizzly bear attacks comprised 60%, and the rest involved black bears. (9)

Bear Attack Statistics Based on Type of Bear

Black Bear Attack Statistics

Every Year There is One Fatal Black Bear Attack in the U.S.

A black bear is walking through the grass

There are 750,000 black bears in North America. Yet, on average, only less than one person gets killed as a result of black bear attacks. Offensive attacks are very rare and are generally unprovoked predatory attacks. (10)

Every 8-10 Years, One Fatal Bear Attack Happens in the Appalachian Trail By Black Bears.

Although nearly 3 million people visit the Appalachian Trail every year, the death statistics stand at 1 death every 8-10 years. 

This makes the estimated chances of a deadly attack by black bears on the Appalachian Trail nearly 1 in 24-30 million. The Appalachian Trail bear attacks show the chances of fatal attacks are slim. (11)

Only Two Fatal Black Bear Attacks Happened on Humans Between 2000-2016 in the Appalachian Trail

From 2000 to 2016, there have been 23 confirmed fatal black bear attacks on humans. Interestingly, only two fatal bear attacks of the 23 were on the Appalachian Trail. (12)

Brown Bear Attack Statistics

It is estimated that there are over 200,000 brown bears in the world. Approximately half are from Russia; the rest are in North America, Europe, Asia, and Scandinavia. 

Grizzly bears are a subspecies of brown bears. Unlike other bears, they are limited to the North American rocky mountain areas. They are the most popularly known and most aggressive bear types. This dangerous bear has a bite force of over 1,200 PSI.

A grizzly bear attack is 3.5 times more vicious than polar bears and 21 times more than black bears.

Every Year, 40 Brown Bear Attacks Occur on Humans Globally

a stat showing that every Year 40 Brown Bear Attacks Occur on Humans Globally

According to nature.com, the global brown bear attack was recorded to be 39.6 attacks/year globally– which is approximately 40 attacks.

11.4 of these are in North America, and 18.2 in Europe (of this, 8.2 is in Romania). The above evaluation is based on data collected on grizzly bear attacks over 15 years.

Globally, 664 Brown Bear Attacks Were Reported Between 2000 to 2015

This study from 2019 by Springer Nature reveals a record rate of 664 attacks by brown bears from 2000 to 2015—183 in North America, 291 in Europe, and 190 in the East. Sadly, 95 of the 664 attacks were fatal.

Between 2000-2015 There Were 11 Fatal Brown Bear Attacks in Romania

The wild brown bear population in Romania is approximately 6000. A report by the Wilderness Society addressing the recent deaths due to brown bears in Romania mentioned that brown bears killed 11 people between 2000 and 2015. (13)

The increase in numbers is seeing an increase in attack rate. 2019 alone saw 6 fatal attacks.

44 Grizzly Bear Attacks Happen Every Year Across the World

Evaluation of data on grizzly bear attacks collected over 15 years revealed that approximately 44 grizzly bear attacks occur every year. (14)

71% of Grizzly Bear Deaths Are Linked to Humans

a stat showing that 71% of Grizzly Bear Deaths Are Linked to Humans

According to the Vital Ground Foundation, “Humans are directly responsible for 71% of grizzly deaths”. 

This is attributed to several reasons, including premature bear fatalities, traffic accidents, and exploitation of bear country in the name of urbanization and recreational activities.

This increases the chances of bear encounters; therefore, grizzly bear attack rates too.

From 2000-2015, 24 Deaths Due to Grizzly Bear Attacks Were Reported

Source: Scientific Reports, Free Range American

In all of North America, between 2000 and 2015, only 24 people were fatally injured and killed by Grizzlys– which is around 1.6 people per year. (15, 16)

44 People Have Been Injured Due to Grizzly Bear Attacks At Yellowstone National Park Since 1979

Yellowstone Park has welcomed over 118 million visitors since 1979. These visits have resulted in 44 people injured due to grizzly bear-related incidents. (17)

This only supports the fact that although grizzlys are more dangerous and vicious than black bears, such incidents are low.

Polar Bear Attack Statistics

The Likelihood of a Polar Bear Attack is 1-3 Times a Year

A polar bear standing in the snow

The chances of a polar bear attack are extremely low. It is only 1 to 3 times a year/ globally. Even this happens only when chances of encounters increase due to human intervention and ice melting. (18)

Polar Bear Attacks Are Highly Likely in July and December.

This study from 2017 by the Wildlife Society shows that 88% of polar bear attacks happen in July or December. 

These months are the deadliest because the ice coverage is at its lowest, making it a more accessible path between humans and polar bears. 

Bear Attack Statistics Based on Location

Bear Attack Statistics in Alaska

The U.S. state of Alaska Accounts for 29% of All Fatal Bear Attacks

Alaska has the highest bear attack rate in North America. Bear attacks in Alaska alone account for 29% of fatal bear attacks. (19)

This is because Alaska is the only state home to all three native bear species and has the highest numbers compared to all other states.

From 2000-2017, 66 Bear Attacks Happened in Alaska

a stat showing that From 2000 2017 66 Bear Attacks Happened in Alaska

From 2000 to 2017, 66 bear attacks led to 69 hospitalizations. And 10 of these hospitalizations ended in death. (20)

Of the Above 66 Attacks, 47 Involved Grizzly Bears

Interestingly, 47 of the above 66 attacks were traced back to grizzlies, and only 2 cases indicated black bears. (21)

6 Fatal Bear Attacks Were Reported in Alaska From 2008-2018

Although Alaskans live around Bear country, only 6 fatal bear attacks happened over the decade spanning from 2008 to 2018. Polar bears were responsible for 2 of them. (22)

As global warming is rising, experts fear an increase in attacks. 2023 January already witnessed 2 fatal attacks by polar bears. (23)

Bear Attack Statistics in California

Several High-Profile Black Bear Break-Ins Into Homes Were Reported in 2022

‘Hank the Tank,’ a 500 lb mother black bear with 3 little cubs, forcefully entered 28 Californian homes and caused extensive property damage to 33 more. (24)

Fortunately, no humans were attacked during any of these incidents. The bears were preparing for the upcoming winter hibernation by calorie loading.

Since 1986, No Fatal Bear Attacks Have Been Reported in California

a stat of no fatal bear attacks have been reported in california

There have been 95 black bear attacks in California from 1986 to 2015. But none of the attacks were fatal. This is because black bears are less aggressive than brown bears. (25)

Bear Attack Statistics in Glacier National Park

Two Bear Attacks Happened on the Same Day in 1967

On the same day, in 1967 summer, 2 completely separate and unrelated bear attacks occurred just a few hours apart. The incidents were fatal. (26)

Since 1998, There Have Been No Fatal Bear Attacks in Glacier National Park

Despite a high bear population and high visitor rate, there have been zero fatal attacks in Glacier National Park since 1998. Although bear incident records go back to 1910, only all fatal incidents occurred between 1967 and 1998.

Bear Attack Statistics in Yosemite National Park

There is a 98% Decrease in Bear Attacks From 1998 to 2020 in the U.S. Yosemite Valley

a stat showing that 98% Decrease in Bear Attacks From 1998 to 2020 in the U.S. Yosemite Valley

With 2019 having recorded the lowest number, there has been a drastic decrease of 98% in bear attacks between 1998 and 2020. However, the rise in incidents is seen, all linked to the food humans carry. (27)

In 2019, 22 Bear Attacks Were Reported in US Yosemite National Park

Although the number of bear incidents has decreased, 22 attacks happened on humans because of the food they carry to the park. (28)

Why Do Bears Attack Humans?

According to the National Park Service, the likelihood of a bear attack encounter is only 1 in 2.1 million. So, bear attacks don’t happen without a reason. Bear attacks are of two types based on the reason of attack: Defensive attack and predatory attack.

Most bear attacks on humans are linked to defensive attacks. This happens when humans enter bear space and provoke them. Activities like hiking, camping, jogging, farming, logging, and foraging results in trespassing and startling the bears. 

Most attacks reported show that a mother bear attacked (female bear) to protect its cubs and food source. Bears also express a behavior called ‘bluff charge.’

This is supposed to be a warning to signal that you are trespassing in its safe space. After exhibiting this behavior, it only attacks if it perceives whatever is approaching as a danger.

A predatory attack is extremely rare. Attacks reported on predatory grounds show the bears were in extreme starvation.

How to Avoid a Bear Attack?

Avoiding a bear attack involves taking precautionary steps and defensive attack methods. 

Here are a few things you should remember and follow:

  • Pay Attention– Most bear attacks happen when bear territory is not respected. When engaging in outdoor and recreational activities like hiking and camping, pay attention to your surroundings to ensure getting close to a bear area. Most hiking trails will put up notice if there are bear sightings and activity at various parts of the trail. So be aware and avoid engaging and trying to get pictures.
  • Travel In Groups And Make Noise– Bears prefer to avoid humans. So, traveling in groups and making noise to identify yourselves as humans. This will warn the bears to clear out to avoid any human interaction. Use noisemakers or hang a bell when hiking.
  • Be Cautious Around Bear Territory– Avoid walking into the area if you witness a bear sighting from afar. Wait it out and allow the bear time to clear out.
  • Stand Your Ground– If you encounter a bear, do not run. The bear will mistake you for prey, and the encounter will become a predatory chase. Besides, you can’t outrun a bear. Also, bears climb trees, so avoid that too. So, if a bear attacks in defense, play dead to let the bear know the threat is eliminated. In case of a predatory attack, stand your ground and make yourself look as big as possible.
  • Use Bear Deterrents- Bear spray and noisemakers are the best bear deterrents. Use the bear spray only as a last resort. The spray distracts the bear, causing a burning sensation, giving you enough time to get away.
  • Schedule Your Hikes During Winter Months– Bears hibernate during winter months. This drastically drops the chances of a bear encounter.

Interesting topics:

Frequently Asked Questions

Roughly around 44 bear attacks occur every year. This includes attacks by black, brown, and polar bears.

Approximately 14% of bear attacks are fatal. This includes attacks by black, brown, and polar bears.

The most dangerous and vicious bear type is the grizzly or polar bear. A grizzly encounter is 3.5 times more dangerous than a polar bear and 21 times more dangerous than a black bear.

Yes, if it’s a brown bear attack, play dead by laying flat on the ground with your stomach down and hands behind your neck. Remain still until the bear leaves. However, for a black bear encounter, try to escape. If escape is impossible, fight back by striking the bear in the face and muzzle.

Bear sprays and noise makers are considered the best forms of bear deterrents. It is recommended to carry both of these deterrents when traveling in bear country for optimal safety.

The odds of a bear attack are very low, estimated to be around 1 in 2.1 million. However, this can vary depending on location, behavior, and bear population density.

The exact number of bears killed each year by humans varies widely depending on the region, the species of bear, and the reasons for the killings (such as hunting, poaching, conflict, and control measures). Reliable global statistics are difficult to obtain due to these factors. However, it’s estimated that thousands of bears are killed annually across different countries for these reasons. For precise figures, one would need to look at specific studies or reports from wildlife conservation organizations and government agencies for each bear species and region.

Takeaway Thoughts

Here are a few thoughts before you go;

Although the odds of a bear attack are slim, they do happen. So always exercise caution to ensure minimal interruption to bear territory, especially around mama bears.

Despite fatal incident reports, having the knowledge and being prepared to avoid and overcome an attack significantly increases the chances of survival. After all, bears also have to survive to protect their family and space, just like humans do.

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Andrew Marshall
Andrew Marshall is a versatile writer with 2 years of experience writing & contributing for IPetGuides. He is based in US, LA and currently, he has a Rottweiler & a Dachsund dog breed.

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