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Bear Attack Trends for North America

December 9 2008 at 6:46 PM
Gary  (no login)

Hi Everybody.

I thought you would find this really interesting. 95% of the attacks since 1980 have happened in wilderness areas where human approachment and construction is not a factor. It's almost like UV rays are making bears more violent or something.

Has anyone had any ugly encounters with bears in Algonquin in the last couple of years?



Bear Attack Trents for North America

Between 1900 and 1950 (50 years) there were 5 people killed by bears in North America. 1 every decade.

From 1960 to 1969 - 3 people were killed by bears in North America

From 1970 to 1979 - 7 people were killed by bears in North America

From 1980 to 1989 - 9 people were killed by bears in North America

From 1990 to 1999 - 18 people were killed by bears in North America

From 2000 to 2008 - 25 people have been killed by bears in North America and we still have 2 years left to go.

The last person to be killed in North America was Robert Wagner (48) of Didsbury, Alberta, who was killed just outside of Sundre, Alberta on a hunting trip. September 2008.

Basically, leathal bear attacks double every year, which is scary.

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(Login TripperScott)
AA Forum Group

Re: Bear Attack Trends for North America

December 9 2008, 6:54 PM 

perhaps bears have been moving from more so remote areas as a result of development in other areas hence creating a higher density bear population in other areas. furthermore, not 100% certain, but i believe the bear hunt licence has been lowered in many areas which lends itself to more bears. so be it, they were there first.

(no login)

bear attacks

December 9 2008, 7:00 PM 

I think it would be interesting to see how many of those attacks where attributed to Grizzlies vs browns, and to examine the other variables associated with the attacks, cubs, fresh kills etc. With Bear populations on the rise, human populations on the rise and more people heading out into these wild places I expect these general stats to continue to rise. I am fortunate to say though that the only bears I seem to encounter are those heading the other way, usually crashing and stumbling to get away I might add, (cant figure it out im sure im quite tasty. However,Bears will be bears!

(no login)

Canceled Hunt vs. habitat loss

December 9 2008, 9:52 PM 

Truth be told the increase in overall incidents as in...Attacks, Property damage, and other issues is directly related to the Cancelled Spring Bear hunt.

Hunters "used" to partake in the spring hunt for a number of reasons.
very Inactive bears make for Tender meat, and the spring hunting options were limited, so it was a great spring activity that many enjoyed.
But almost no one hunts them in the Fall...
The reasons are simple,
There are Moose, and Deer hunts to occupy the Hunters time, and fill our fridge with meat.
And the most important reason....a fall hunt is NOT sporting at all
Think about it.
In the fall they are Super fat, lazy, and in their den 99% of the time.
How sporting is it to shoot a bear in their den???
The MNR might as well just have cancelled hunting Bear in general...almost no one hunts them in the fall.

The hunt has been cancelled for many years now since 1999.
The main reason...
Animal rights groups convinced the Harris government there was a serious Cub orphaning issue.
There never was any "population" issue, it was an animal cruelty concern.
(unfounded IMO, but thats just an opinion)

In the last 9 going on ten years the populations are booming, and of course these animals are not known to hang out together most of the year, so they disperse, and find their own territories.
This combined with our current issue of urban sprawl, and habitat loss causes a shortage of suitable habitat to support the booming populations of bear.
Thus we have bears in our communities more often.

Even in the wild there is a significantly more competitive nature to food sources, and territory.
So as omnivores, and being quite resourceful scavengers bears see us humans as an easy meal ticket.
Be it our Garbage, camp sacks, BBQ's or the smell of pepperoni on your breath, we are becoming associated with food more and more to the bruins.

Nine times out of ten these bears are labelled nuisance bears...I don't like that term.
They are just being resourceful...like it or not we're a food source.

A reinstated hunt would be a good idea in my opinion for conservation of the "healthy" stock
and it would limit the issues.

Its a shame to hear about all these bears being destroyed and wasted...shot, and dumped.
its a common practice unfortunately


(no login)

Re: Canceled Hunt vs. habitat loss

December 9 2008, 10:11 PM 

The full wiki entry, where the species of bear is noted in each case, can be found here:



(no login)

Re: Bear Attack Trends for North America

December 10 2008, 8:20 AM 

Only ever seen one bear in the wild, that was Temagami. Close to 20 years of tripping. Not in any way a troublesome encounter.

There is no single factor. Not the bear hunt. Not human encroachment. Not solar flares. Nothing lives in a vaccuum. All animals have their population cycles which is the result of several factors.

Human encroachment is tough to completely dismiss as a factor. Even if the attack is 100 km from any urban areas, development in those areas pushes wildlife with a domino effect.


John Scarlett
(Login J-stroker)
AA Forum Group

Death by Black Bear

December 10 2008, 10:35 AM 

The Wikipedia list shows only 7 deaths from black bears in North America during July and August--ever--none of them in Algonquin. Paddle confidently but carry pepper spray.


(Login TenzingBlackdog)

Re: Bear Attack Trends for North America

December 10 2008, 12:30 PM 

Tripping is dangerous, but so is driving on the highway, or walking on the street, or doing anything anywhere at anytime.

While I'm wary of bears and have immense respect for their power and their territory, I'm more afraid of lightning, or dumping the boat in the middle of Cedar in May.

And, with the exception of a vacation to Alaska, I've never seen a bear in the wild (one did run by the car on the way into Brent, but I don't think a flash counts)

In the end, I just remember what Edward Abbey said about this matter.

"If people persist in trespassing upon the bears' territory, we must accept the fact that the bears, from time to time, will harvest a few trespassers."


"I was never one to obsess about the past. Too much to do in the future."


Rob W.
(Login rwaywell)
AA Forum Group

Is the apparent increase an artifact of increased reporting?

December 11 2008, 9:28 AM 

The opening paragraph of the Wikipedia article concludes with: "Prior to recent decades bear attacks were not well documented, particularly those which took place in isolated regions. As a result there were more attacks and fatalities than have been recorded as shown here, particularly in Canada and Alaska."

I would prefer the last sentence to read "As a result there were probably more ..." just to avoid jumping to a conclusion. Nonetheless, the point that the statistics are likely incomplete is still valid.

Reading the descriptions, there also seems to be a shift towards assuming that any body that a bear has fed on was originally killed by the bear. While undoubtedly true in some cases, bears are scavengers and would willingly feed on a body that was already dead.

No your other left!


John scarlett
(Login J-stroker)
AA Forum Group

I've never seen a bear

December 11 2008, 10:12 AM 

Tenzing, I don't know whether you are lucky or unlucky. I treasure every bear encounter I have ever had (22 bears since 1963, 16 of those in Algonquin), probably because the adrenaline rush forever burns each experience into my nervous system. In recent years I have seen very few, unfortunately, fortunately.


Mark Scarlett
(Login MarkScarlett)
AA Forum Group

Getting our bearings.

December 11 2008, 10:55 AM 

John doesn't mention it, but our most recent bear encounter was last July 13 on the Tim River, late in the afternoon on the our first day of a two week trip. By his small size, he was likely a yearling, browsing along the shore, largely unconcerned with the three canoes drifting by. Eventually he got uncomfortable with the ooglers hanging around and wandered back into the woods.

[linked image]

The Wiki list is interesting, but I'm curious that there is no mention of John Dennison, who by several accounts in various Algonquin histories had settled a farm on Opeongo Lake in the 1870's and was killed by a bear that he had caught in a trap somewhere along the Green Lake portage. (my handiest reference was in The Algonquin Centenial Series, Barney Moorehouse, The Bancroft Times,1993, pp. 70-72.)

I too am surprised by how few bears people seem to encounter in the Park. They have not been a regular feature of my experience in APP, but I see them and their signs often enough to be confident that they are there, whether I see them or not.

For sure, they are commonplace in our camping experience on Georgian Bay where they are more visible in the open, rocky landscape, and it is not unusual to see at least one, if not two or more, every summer. The shot below, taken just north of Byng Inlet and which I posted here before, is my favorite of many I have taken on the Bay.

[linked image]


http://www.ABRweb.ca .. Algonquin Backcountry Recreationalists - Caring for Algonquin's Backcountry


(Login TenzingBlackdog)

Re: I've never seen a bear

December 11 2008, 1:09 PM 

John, I agree with you 100% about the adrenaline rush and I do wish to see more.

I did see quite a few in Alaska, including one while fishing on the Russian River (Kenai Peninsula).

The banks of the Russian are quite steep, and there is a two-flight stairway from the top to the bottom. I had finished fishing and stopped halfway up the stairs to take a picture when I heard a slight crack, like a twig breaking. I turned and saw a black bear about 10-15 feet away, just plodding along.

The adrenaline kicked in big time. I backed away very slowly, down the stairs, until he got out of sight and I gave a "Whoa Bear!" and got down the stairs in double time.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see a bear in Algonquin, just not 10 feet away again

(no login)

Bear Experience

December 11 2008, 5:17 PM 

About 1953 while backpacking along a survey slash line in northern Vancouver Island we ran into a black bear with her cubs. There were four of us: the engineer in the lead, me next in line and two others behind me. I only managed to catch a glimpse of the fangs in the wide-open-mouth (over the engineer's shoulder) as she charged us. With me in the lead, the engineer and I beat a rapid retreat (over the bodies of the other two) to a "safe" distance. When we stopped and looked back the bear was gone. But from memory, I can still see a vivid image of those fangs.

(no login)

bear attack

December 11 2008, 5:59 PM 

Wasn't there a bear attack about two years ago in the spring - as I remember,when older gentleman was hiking with his dog and both of them got ruffled by a big bear,both had to be air-lifted for a medical care.As a matter of fact,I saw the news on this message board.hk

(no login)

Re: bear attack

December 11 2008, 7:11 PM 

There was that guy who defended himself and his dog from a black bear a few years back. He was a Kitchener native from what I recall, there's probably links in the myccr.com forums for the story.

Anonymous' story reminds me of the movie The Great Outdoors. The glorified bald-headed bear and its fangs. I hated the fact that my dad made me watch that movie so much as a kid, but I think i'm gonna have to do the same to my kids! Sorry to bring jest into the situation, but that is a great movie if you've never seen it happy.gif

(no login)

Re: bear attack

December 11 2008, 10:59 PM 

Ben Teskey
(Login bteskey)

Very interesting.

December 12 2008, 10:37 AM 

Really interesting thread. Humbling as it reenforces that we are not at the top of the food chain, as does black fly season. There are many factors at work including but I am sure not limited to, habitat destruction, more people moving into bear territory, better record keeping, cancellation of the spring hunt, bears becoming more oportunistic in the face of human landscapes... I have nothing but deep love and and tremendous respect for these majestic creatures. As a tracker I constantly try to extend my awareness to pick up on the nuances caused by a bear moving through the ecosystem. My plan is to see the bear without it seeing me. Although I accept that it is more often the oposite...

(no login)

Statistics lie 8 out of 10 times

December 12 2008, 6:43 PM 

Quote - "Basically, leathal (sic) bear attacks double every year, which is scary."

Actually they double every decade, you are off by an order of magnitude, except for the 80s where there was a significant drop in the rate of increase (perhaps Duran Duran has an effect on bear attacks). The data is also ignoring the population increase of humans as well as the previously mentioned bear population.

But most importantly this is an excellent example of relative statistics vs. absolute statistics. Saying the attacks double every decade is technically accurate but when the absolute numbers are compared to the rise in population during that same period the rise is insignificant. 25 people out of 335,000,000 people is not that large an effect.

(no login)

Re: Statistics lie 8 out of 10 times

December 12 2008, 8:56 PM 

Bears, worry, or not to worry! While hiking, portaging or bushwhaking, I have personally been face to face with bears on 8 occasions, and heard many more running away through the bush. 6 of those meetings were in Gatineau Park. I'ved must of seen bears at least 25-30 times while in a vehicule...not as fun.

I have been lucky so far as I have been very close to some cubs, no kidding, I mean close, at one time the cub was 2 meters away, it was digging in some rotten log, at first I thought it was a racoon until it lifted it's head. My buddy panicked and started to run from where we cam from, but the cub was doing the same so I told my friend to stop and to walk back as I had just heard 30 seconds before some sort of a growl from back there...it must of been the mother bear.

Alone with my 18 month daugther, I was pushing her stroller in one of the wilder parts of Gatineau Park, and again nobody was around for miles as it was a weekday morning. Kilometers into our hike, we spotted a very small cub, as this was early May, so I just stopped and waited to see where it was going so not to be between them. It was 8-10 metres from us, so I just backed away and continued on the other trail.

Bears are also in town, I mean Hull, where Gatineau Park starts. While walking with my girlfriend and her daughter, I noticed a cub, again digging into a log, only 5 meters from the paved bike path. It just ignored the cyclists and walkers, so we just stayed there and watched it for a minute or so, but my girlfriend's daugther being in a wheelchair was getting nervous as the mother bear wasn't far away. Before leaving, I talked out loud to the bear and "that" frightened it away, I wanted to let it know to avoid humains...for it's own safety, not ours!!

In Algonqin, my brother got charged at by a big male while he was camping alone at Log Canoe Lake. It was sunset when he spotted the bear a 100 metres away along the shoreline, so he then yeld out at the bear to show his presence and the bear did not like it and immediatly started to run towards my brother, who remained calm, took his knife out and stood his ground while yelling at the bear, who fortunatly stopped 10 metres away, turned around and left in the bush. While his heart was "pounding", he was happy to not have been more "involved" with that bear.

Every encounter is different and mostly unexpected, so remain calm as you only have 2 to 5 seconds to analyse the situation and to then take a decision on how to react...fun!

Worry, or not to worry!

(no login)

Re: Statistics lie 8 out of 10 times

December 12 2008, 9:29 PM 

I used to go to Algonquin three to four times a year. I saw a few bears but never very many. They always seemed to be in a big hurry to run away.

I moved to Alberta about 7 years ago and now do my fishing in the Rockies. Lots more bears out here - both grizzlies and black bears. Alberta was a busy place for grizzlies this year. There were a few attacks and one fatality.

I had my own close encounter - was hiking back to the truck after a day of fishing and literally almost stumbled onto a sleeping grizzly bear. He was only 20 feet away and started to stand up growling when I woke him up. Fortunately he was facing away from me and I was able to back away and scramble up a steep embankment before he saw me (it was a hot day and he was likely slow and a bit groggy). Funny thing was, the day before I saw two other grizzlies about 10 km away - first time I had seen any grizzlies in this area.

Here's a clip about an attack and some video I shot of the two bears I saw


In Algonquin I never used to carry any anti-bear devices. In Alberta I never go anywhere without my bear spray. I'm likely going to invest in some bear bangers soon as well. You have to be careful when you are in black bear country but grizzly bears are in a whole different league.

AS - if you reading this - Merry Christmas!

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