Bear attacks, though not frequent, can be a serious danger in certain areas.
If you’re curious about how many bear attacks happen per year, our article addresses this with the most current statistics.
More importantly, we also focus on how to prevent these potentially dangerous encounters. We cover everything from the number of attacks and the likelihood of encountering a bear to recognizing different types of bears.
All in all, this article is essential for anyone looking to safely enjoy nature while being aware of the risks.
Little Known Bear Attack Statistics
- There were 664 attacks by brown bears on humans between 2000–2015.
- Around 11 people in North America die from bears per year.
- Glacier National Park encountered two fatal bear attacks on the same day in 1967.
- Since 1872, bears have killed eight people in Yellowstone Park.
- Between 2000–2017, in Alaska, there were eight attacks by bears.
- 15 attacks from polar bears were recorded globally between 2010–2014.
- There were 11 fatal attacks in Romania between 2000–2015.
- 32 US states are home to black and brown bears.
- A male grizzly bear can weigh up to 1,700 pounds.
- 71% of grizzly bear deaths are because of humans.
How Common Are Bear Attacks?
1. There Have Been 664 Attacks by Brown Bears on Humans Between 2000-2015
(Source: Springer Nature)
- The total attack rate is about 40% globally.
- 20% of these were surprise attacks, and 50% came from females with cubs.
- 50% of European attacks take place in Romania.
Bear attack statistics in 2023 show us that your chance of being attacked by a bear, no matter where you are, is meager.
2. Around 11 People in North America Die From Attacks by Bears Annually
(Source: The Alaska Life)
- The latest information shows that throughout 2022, seven bear attacks were reported in the US.
- Since 1900, 61 people have been killed by a black bear in North America. These are the rarest attacks compared to the ones by grizzly bears.
- In contrast, grizzlies killed 24 people in North America between 2000–2015.
- You’re three times more likely to encounter a bear in August compared to November.
So, if you long to meet a bear out in the wild, your chances are very slim but not non-existent. You’ll learn what to do in such cases a bit later.
3. India Has the Highest Number of Sloth Bear Attacks
- Analysis based on region and season showed 1191 sloth bear attacks
- 48% of these attacks occurred in winter, while 31% during the summer period
- Consequently, most of the attacks happened in Sri Lanka during the dry season.
Bear Attack Statistics in the United States
The US is home to many habitats for this mammal, particularly Montana, Alaska, California, and North America.
4. Glacier National Park Encountered Two Fatal Bear Attacks on the Same Day in 1967
(Source: Smithsonian Magazine)
- The above attacks were the first in 57 years and came within hours from two different grizzly bears on two separate sites. It led to serious trash regulation changes.
- Based on 2022 FWP report, there are over 2100 Grizzly bears in Montana, 1,068 in NCDE, and 1,063 in GYE. They can weigh up to 790 pounds and stand about 4 feet on all fours.
- Two million people visit Glacier National Park every year, and over one million are hikers. Annually, there are two non-fatal bear incidents on average. Besides, since opening in 1967, there have only been ten fatalities due to bears.
The Montana grizzly bear attack and statistics display just how scarce these events are.
5. Bears Have Killed Eight People in Yellowstone Park Since 1872
(Source: National Park Service)
- Comparatively, the park had 121 drownings, 26 suicides, and 21 burns in the same period.
- You have a higher chance of dying from a falling tree, an avalanche, or getting struck by lightning than a Yellowstone bear attack — one in 2.7 million.
- If you remain in a developed area, the chances decrease to one in 59 million. In contrast, hiking backcountry will increase your chance of a grizzly bear attack to approximately 1 in 232,000.
Unfortunately, bear attacks statistics in the United States are increasing because of the growing human population that pushes the animals out of their habitats. And that’s not the only species at risk. We’re close to causing elephant extinction within the next decade.
6. Between 2000–2017, There Were Eight Fatal Attacks by Bears in Alaska
(Source: Alaska’s News Source)
- 29.6% of the fatal attacks during this period in the US took place in Alaska.
- The eight fatal attacks caused ten deaths, making 34.5% of all US bear attack deaths. Out of those, 7 were attacked by a brown bear, while the other 3 died from a black bear attack.
- According to bear attack statistics, North America had one of its highest fatality rates in 2021 with a staggering six incidents.
Bear attack statistics in Alaska are incredibly low if you think about the state’s sheer size, which houses over 30,000 brown bears.
7. Since 1986, There Haven’t Been Any Fatal Black Bear Attacks in California
(Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife)
- There are approximately 35,000 black bears in California, the only bear above three feet in the area.
- Black bears will enter your backyard in search of food, and they might go after your pup. A black bear bit a Californian in 2019 after it attacked his dog. Since 1987, three out of seven unprovoked attacks in Minnesota started with a pup assault. So, finding a harness for large dogs is essential.
- From January-November 2023, hunters caused 921 bear fatalities in California alone. In February 2021, with over 27,000 signatures, a petition tried to ban that in California, but it was overruled. The truth is, we’re way more dangerous to bears than they are to us. And our list of the most endangered species continues to grow.
People in California worry because the animals come up to their houses. But there are ways to prevent this — not leaving trash outside, keeping your pup inside at night, and getting a wireless dog fence.
Bear Attack Statistics Worldwide
So, just how many people are killed by bears each year? Not as many as there are in the dog fatalities statistics. Here’s what we know so far.
8. Three Polar Bear Attacks Were Recorded in 2021 Worldwide
(Source: Yale Environment 360)
- These three non-fatal bear attacks happened in Canada, Norway, and northeast Greenland.
- Polar bear attack statistics are on the rise due to the diminishing habitats that force the animals into human-populated areas. Since 2000, 88% of attacks occurred between July and December when the sea level was at its lowest point.
- Located in Northern Canada, Nunavut experienced two fatal attacks from polar bears in 2018. Local communities didn’t respond well, asking the government to increase the endangered species‘ annual hunting quota.
- Black bear attack statistics reveal that scientists estimate that over half of Canadian incidents with a black bear happen due to a pup off a leash.
Overall, there’s some truth to the horror stories, but it’s rare.
Frankly, the worsening climate change means polar bear attacks on humans are only going to increase. Their decreasing habitat causes a domino effect of more hunting and puts the animals at risk of becoming extinct sooner than expected.
9. There Were 14 Fatal Bear Attacks in Romania Between 2016–2021
(Source: Wilderness Society; Phys.org)
- Brown bear populations are increasing worldwide. Romania has the largest population throughout Europe, with approximately 6,000 animals. From 2016 to 2021, human encounters with bears led to 154 attacks, causing 158 injuries and resulting in 14 people being killed. This number was lower from 2000 to 2015, with 11 fetal bear attacks in Romania.
- Unfortunately, hunters took the recent increase as a reason to reinstate legal bear hunting. The government recently approved it for the next five years with an extreme quota of 600 bears per year. Simply put, that’s 10% of the total brown bear population.
- A 2019 study suggests that bear attack statistics in Europe were 18.2% of the global amount between 2000–2015. Romania made up 8.2% of that. Additionally, the same study revealed that the country needs to invest in education rather than hunting to fix the problem.
Annual bear attacks in Romania will keep increasing if something doesn’t teach the locals what to do.
How to Identify a Bear
Each bear species has different features that tell you how to react.
10. North America is the Home of Black and Brown Bears
(Source: Be Bear Aware; National Park Service)
- It turns out that the name black bear is deceiving, as they come in a range of colors — brown, black, and blonde. They’re a smaller breed but can weigh as much as 875 pounds. The species runs up to 25 miles per hour—that’s as fast as an olympian. It’s not hard to imagine how bear attack deaths happen.
- During winter, bears lose 30% of their weight. That’s why when hibernation is over, they have a single objective — find food. The black bear has a phenomenal sense of smell, so don’t leave your food lying around in a bear country.
- Cubs are usually born between January and February and will be with their mom for about two years. Many attacks happen because females are trying to protect their young. To stay on the safe side, don’t go anywhere near a cub. Mom’s probably not far behind and ready to attack.
Non-fatal bear attack statistics are much higher than the fatal ones. But you can survive a bear attack if you know what to do.
A Male Grizzly Bear Weighs Up To 600 Pounds
(Source: The National Wildlife Federation)
- Grizzly bears range in color — from very dark brown to a light tan. The most identifiable features are their rounded ears and large shoulder hump, which they scratch by rubbing on trees.
- Grizzlies have much longer claws than the black bear. One of them is between two-four inches, whereas black bear claws are less than two. Seeing how fierce these animals truly are, it’s surprising how many bear attacks there are per year — much less than you’d think.
- Black bears are much more afraid than the grizzly, so making a loud noise will usually frighten them away. In contrast, the grizzly bear is incredibly fierce and will put up a fight. There’s a massive difference in the size of nearly 1,000 pounds.
Knowing what to look for will come in handy if you ever meet a bear. Here’s what you should do.
What to Do if You Encounter a Bear
So, despite your low chance of a bear attack, as statistics show, how can you prepare to go into the wild?
12. Black Bears and Grizzly Bears Attack Differently
(Source: National Park Service)
- If a black bear attacks, fight back with everything you have and don’t pretend to be dead. Pick up sticks, use bear spray, shout, kick, and punch. Do all you can to defend yourself. While the odds of being attacked by a bear are very low, it never hurts to go prepared.
- In contrast, if grizzly charges, don’t fight back. Lay flat on the ground with your legs spread apart, and use your arms to cover your head and neck. Don’t make a noise and stay down even if the bear stops attacking.
- Grizzly bear attack statistics are higher. If you come across any bear in the wild, stop and slowly back away, avoiding eye contact. Pick up kids and pets immediately. Waving your arms will also show the bear that you’re a human, and softly speaking may indicate that you’re not a threat.
- There’s a common myth that older bears can’t or won’t climb trees. Do not climb a tree when running from this animal, as they can and will follow you up. This myth is responsible for many misfortune incidents.
Knowing what to expect and what to do is crucial and could be the difference between a fatal and non-fatal attack.
Globally, we shouldn’t only be looking at how many bear attacks there are per year because we’re doing much more damage to them.
13. 71% of Grizzly Bear Deaths Are Because of Humans
(Vital Ground Foundation)
- Only 12% of adult male bears die from natural causes. 32% of human-related bear killings come from hunting.
- Cubs often don’t make it to adulthood due to natural causes, but right behind is getting hit by a train. The little ones can’t move quickly enough to get off the tracks. Simply put, we’re the number one killer of grizzly bears. They are listed as threatened, with their population dwindling to a mere 1,500 in US states south of Canada.
- 98% of US bears’ natural habitat has been lost due to our expanding population and the need for forested areas.
- According to the latest studies, there is a suspicion that approximately 88% of grizzly bear deaths in Flathead Valley, British Columbia, and Canada are by humans (not by legally permitted hunters). The reasons behind this are still unknown.
Black bear deaths are increasing, and so are other similar species. If you visit a bear country, be responsible and clean up wherever possible.
So, how many bear attacks per year, and should you be scared?
Thankfully, bear attacks aren’t super common, but let’s keep it that way. Remember, bears are more into fish than people, but they also like their personal space.