Bear attacks are some of the most dramatic examples of conflict between people and wildlife. However, bear attack statistics reveal that such incidents are rare because bears go to lengths to avoid contact with humans.
Let’s look at some crucial statistics on bear attacks and more.
Top Bear Attack Statistics: Editor’s Pick
- There were 183 bear attacks in North America between 2000–2015. (1)
- There are 40 bear attacks around the world every year. (4)
- The odds of being attacked by a bear are one in 2.1 million. (5)
- On average, 24 deaths were caused by grizzly bears between 2000–2015. (6)
- There were six fatal bear attacks in Alaska from 2008–2018. (10)
- There were 22 human-bear incidents in the US Yosemite National Park in 2019. (12)
How Frequent Are Bear Attacks?
1. There were 664 bear attacks on people globally between 2000–2015.
More than 50% of these attacks involved a female bear with cubs. The mama bears were probably trying to protect their children.
Geographically, the majority of attacks took place in Europe—291. Here are some other areas where bear attacks are less unusual:
- 190 in Russia, Iran, and Turkey
- 183 in North America
- 61*, as follows:
- 35 in Japan
- 11 in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 9 in Macedonia
- 4 in Albania
- 2 in Nepal
* (insufficient information about these attacks overall)
2. There have been 13 bear attacks in North America in the 2020s.
Five of those attacks are attributed to black bears (Ursus americanus). The other eight involved brown bears (Ursus arctos). This shows an upward trend compared to previous years.
However, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team assures that this isn’t unprecedented and doesn’t prove that bears are getting more aggressive—instead, it’s a combination of bear population expansion and increased recreational presence of people.
3. The most aggressive bear is the grizzly.
Even its Latin name suggests that—Ursus arctos horribilis. Interestingly, while they can be crowned as the most aggressive, the question of which bear type is the strongest is more complex.
Grizzly bear claws alone are enough to scare anyone—they’re 2–4 inches long.
4. There are around 40 brown bear attacks worldwide every year.
There are 19 bear attacks in the East (Russia, Turkey, and Iran), 18 in Europe, and 11 in North America yearly. Animal attacks on people are indeed a horrible thing.
Still, the media often negatively frames them, hindering animal conservation and preventing the recovery of endangered species.
5. The odds of being attacked by a bear are around one in 2.1 million.
The chances are higher for a person dying from a bee sting than a bear attack—and even higher for being killed by another human.
Most bear encounters are non-violent, as these animals are as scared of us as we are of them. Bears will only actively hunt down and eat a human in case of severe starvation.
6. On average, 24 deaths were caused by grizzly bears in North America from 2000–2015.
This accounts for 13.1% of all overall attacks in North America. In comparison, 6.6.% of European bear attacks end in a person’s death (19). Interestingly, 32% of these encounters in the East are fatal (52).
7. The majority of polar bear attacks happen in July and December.
These are the deadliest months for bear attacks. The overall increase in these specific attacks coincides with climate change and ice melting in the Arctic. July and December are particularly dangerous, as ice is the lowest at that time of the year.
State With Most Bear Attacks
8. There were 66 bear attacks in Alaska from 2000–2017.
During this period, bear-human incidents contributed to 68 hospitalizations, as bear attack statistics show. That averages to 3.8 admissions every year, while the average rate of bear attack hospitalizations is 8.6 per 10,000 hospitalizations annually.
9. 47 attacks are attributed to brown bears.
Of the 66 attacks, the subspecies were identified in 49. While grizzly bear attacks were most common in Alaska at this period, only two cases were traced back to black bears.
10. Alaska had six fatal bear attacks from 2008–2018.
The data reveals that three deaths have happened over two years.
However, between 2000–2017, there were ten fatalities from eight unique bear attacks. In addition, attacks by brown bears (Ursus arctos) caused seven of these fatalities, while black bears caused three.
Furthermore, the data on recent animal attacks on humans shows that one of these incidents included a bear with cubs. In 50% of the cases, the victims were alone. In the other 50% of the attacks, the victims were in groups of two, with one survivor in half of those cases.
Other Bear Attack Hotspots
11. The number of bear attacks in Yosemite Valley decreased by 98% between 1998–2020.
However, compared to 2019, the year with the lowest number of bear-related incidents, conflicts have increased by 64%.
Regardless, bears aren’t interested in people, but in the food people carry. Bear attack statistics reveal that incidents usually occur when bears try to get food from campsites.
12. There were 22 human-bear incidents in the US Yosemite National Park in 2019.
According to the data, there were 4.4 million visits to the Yosemite National Park in 2019 alone. Bear attacks have decreased throughout the years because leaving food in the park is illegal.
According to the data, there were 165 incidents in 2014 and only 76 in 2015. Furthermore, the number continued to decrease. There were only 38 human-bear incidents in 2016 and 2017 and 24 in 2018.
13. There were only two fatal black bear attacks on people on the Appalachian Trail from 2000–2016.
Does this mean black bears are aggressive? The American black bear is one of the most dangerous animals in the world. But, Appalachian Trail bear attacks reveal that even though this enormous animal spreads fear among people, bear-human incidents, especially those that end fatally, are infrequent.
14. There were 23 fatal black bear attacks in the US between 2000–2016.
It means that there’s roughly more than one deadly attack per year. Almost all of these attacks happened on mountain trails.
According to black bear attack statistics, the deceased were usually found near bears with cubs. This means that the animals were trying to defend their young.
15. Grizzly bear attacks at Yellowstone National Park have resulted in 44 people injured since 1979.
The park has hosted more than 118 million people so far. Therefore, there’s a one in 2.7 million chance of people being injured by grizzly bears in Yellowstone.
When we compare grizzlies vs. black bears, it’s evident that the grizzlies attack fewer people, despite being much larger and more scary-looking.
16. Bears have fatally injured only eight people since the Yellowstone National Park establishment in 1872.
More people died from causes other than grizzly bear attacks in Montana’s famous National Park. Namely, 121 people drowned, and 21 died from burns after falling into a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.
The data also reveals more cases of suicide (26) than bear attacks in the park. Furthermore, more park visitors died from a falling tree (7), an avalanche (6), and lightning (5) than bear mauling.
17. There haven’t been any fatal bear attacks in Glacier National Park since 1998.
Black bears and grizzly bears are some of the most common residents of Glacier National Park. And with millions of annual visitors, incidents are bound to happen.
According to the data on black bear attacks per year, there have been ten fatal attacks in total, two in 1967 and eight between 1968–1998.
18. There were only four fatal bear attacks in Ontario, Canada, in the last 100 years.
The incidents are sporadic. Dogs accounted for more fatalities than bears between 1982–2012. During this time, 497 people died from dog attacks across the US and Canada.
19. There were 48 fatal bear attacks in North America between 2000-2017.
Out of 46 attacks, 48 people were killed. Data reveals that 19 incidents happened in Canada—27 occurred in the US.
Furthermore, black bear attacks statistics show that black bears were involved in 25 incidents. Brown bears, whose range is 70–200 square miles, were involved in 21.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many bear attacks occur in a year?
On average, there are 40 bear attacks worldwide, with 11 strikes in North America, 18 in Europe, and 19 in the East—Iran, Turkey, and Russia.
What percentage of bear attacks are fatal?
Out of 40 bear attacks per year, approximately 14% end fatally. If we’re talking specifics—the number of fatal black bear attacks per year is just one.
What are the odds of being attacked by a bear?
According to the National Park Service, the odds of being attacked by a bear are approximately one in 2.1 million, meaning it’s more likely to be killed by a bee than a bear.
Should you play dead with a bear?
If a brown bear or a grizzly attacks you, you should lay ﬂat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck. Also, spread your legs to make it harder for the bear to turn you over.
Remain still until the bear leaves the area because fighting back usually increases the intensity of the attack. However, animal attack statistics reveal that if the bear continues, you should fight back vigorously.
On the contrary, if a black bear attacks you, do not play dead! Try to escape. And if an escape is impossible, try to fight back with any object you can reach by hitting the bear in the face and muzzle.
How many deaths are caused by exotic animals a year?
Born Free USA, a nonprofit advocacy organization that strives to end the ownership of exotic animals, started collecting wild animal ownership data in 1990. They documented 75 human deaths caused by exotic pet attacks between 1990–2011.
For example, if you’re considering having a bear as a pet, you’d be wise to read more about what it means.
Which bears are most dangerous?
Grizzly and polar bears are notorious for being the most dangerous. However, the Eurasian brown bear and the American black bear can attack people, too.
While baby bears look cute and cuddly, the grown ones are pretty scary. However, we hope these bear attack statistics have shown you how rarely bears and other wild animals attack people. And while unprovoked attacks can happen, they are sporadic.
Unfortunately, urban expansion has led to habitat loss, which is why some animals might resort to attacking people. They are trying to defend themselves, their young, and their territory. Some The numbers we’ve compiled prove that it is often human behavior that provokes the attacks.
For example, humans have used bears as circus animals, and this type of abuse usually leaves an animal traumatized and untrusting toward humans, maximizing the chances of an attack.