So, do bears eat humans? Despite their reputation as terrifying predators, bears usually do not prey on people! However, there have been cases of bear attacks in the past.
In this blog post, we will explore the truth about bear attacks and offer advice on staying safe if you encounter a bear in the wild.
Do Bears Eat Humans
Due to their size and strength, bears are often seen as blood-thirsty, frightening creatures that prey on humans. However, like numerous other wild animals, bears usually do not show an affinity toward human flesh and are more likely to be scared than confrontational when approached by people.
A bear’s typical diet consists of honey, plants, berries, grain, fish, insects, birds, and different types of mammal meat, such as deer or moose. Some aggressive species, like the grizzlies, may occasionally eat humans, but it’s far from the norm.
However—don’t be fooled and consider a bear cub for a pet just because they look adorable. Even though you’re not their preferred meal of the day, you must be cautious since bears can and will attack people, especially when they’re caught by surprise.
How Often Do Bears Eat People
Statistics show that there are roughly 40 bear attacks every year. However, most of them aren’t fatal. That said, the odds of you getting attacked by a bear are pretty low.
Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so always do some research before hiking or going on a camping trip in a bear-populated area. Different breeds maintain different levels of aggression, and there’s a lot of information surrounding which are considered most threatening.
For instance, many believe that black bears only attack when feeling threatened. On the other hand, there’s a consensus that grizzlies are the most dangerous subspecies.
Most Dangerous Bear Species
Out of all bear species, some are bound to be more dangerous than others. Let’s look at the types most likely to attack a human being, so you’ll have a general sense of which areas to avoid.
Do Grizzly Bears Eat People
As we’ve already mentioned, grizzlies have earned the reputation for being the most fear-inducing out of all bear breeds, thanks to their extreme aggression when needing to protect their territory or cubs.
Although they can eat people, it doesn’t happen that often. If you encounter a brown bear, you should back away slowly while facing the animal.
Do Polar Bears Eat Humans
In winter, polar bears use their teeth, claws, and pure bite force to prey on seals and other marine mammals on sea ice. During summer, however, their diet consists of berries, plants, and terrestrial mammals.
These creatures are opportunistic predators and will eat anything that crosses their path. There have been cases where people have suffered attacks and sometimes even got eaten. Usually, these cases happen in summer when malnourished polar bears have reduced their fat reserves.
Do Black Bears Eat Humans
Black bears don’t tend to eat people, but they can become aggressive if they feel they have to protect their cubs. Coincidentally, many recent black bear attacks are somehow related to dogs.
Why Do Bears Attack Humans
Now that we know which bears are most threatening to humans walking around the woods, we should try and understand the most common causes behind these attacks. Typically, people are attacked by these predators for one of three reasons:
- Starvation—Bears often lurk for food across a campsite or someone’s backyard. They will run after anything resembling a meal: garbage or pet food.
- Cub and food protection—These animals will do anything to protect their young ones. They are also very defensive regarding food since they are hibernating and need quite a lot of fat to survive the winter.
- Self-Defense—If you invade a bear’s space, you can count on the creature going into full self-defense mode. They are especially terrifying when injured and immediately turn into ferocious monsters for self-preservation.
To make things clear, bears usually do not attack people unprovoked. To avoid uncomfortable situations, stay as far away as possible and remember that every bear species requires a different approach.
How to Survive a Bear Attack
Although you need to react differently based on the breed you’re dealing with, you can still follow some tips that will surely help you avoid or survive a bear attack:
- Travel with many people in groups;
- Be alert to any signs of bears;
- Carry bear spray;
- Try not to attract them.
Will bears eat humans if they stumble across them? They might not devour them, but these creatures can still be dangerous, which is why we’ve also assembled advice to help you reduce damage when coming into contact with a grizzly or a black bear.
- Hold your position—Never turn your back and run when noticing a bear. If the animal starts hopping, pawing on the ground, or huffing, stop and slowly back away. Don’t forget to maintain eye contact if it’s a brown bear, and refrain from looking in its eyes if it’s a black one.
- Play Dead—If a grizzly bear attacks you, don’t respond, but play dead. You can use one of these positions: fetal position with your fingers interlocked behind your neck or; flat on your belly with your legs spread out, with your fingers interlocked behind your neck and elbows also spread out.
- Fight back—Black bears won’t fall for your tricks. Instead, you’ll have to try your best and fight back. These predators can be persistent, so use bear spray, punch at its face, particularly its nose, and find and throw sticks and rocks at it, again, aiming for the nose and eyes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can bears eat humans?
Yes, they can, but the real question is—will they? Usually, no, but sometimes starvation, fear, and confusion can lead to unfortunate circumstances.
Has a bear ever eaten a human?
Although not common, there have been cases when a bear decided to make a meal from a human being. Statistics show that from the 1700s onwards, there have been roughly 180 bear attack-related deaths.
Do brown bears eat humans?
Like any other bear species, brown bears aren’t that fond of human flesh unless they feel protective or hungry.
What do bears eat first on a human?
When attacking humans, bears usually go for the chest or hip regions first, and they also tend to look for the entrails.
Do bears eat humans?
Bears are not typically aggressive towards humans and will only attack if they feel threatened or if they are starving. If you do encounter a bear in the wild, it is essential to stay calm and avoid making any sudden movements. If the bear does attack, try acting according to the breed you’re dealing with.