BROWN BEAR ATTACKS

BROWN BEAR ATTACKS

Sometimes brown bears stalk humans, kill them and eat them. But the behavior is extremely rare. Usually when a bear kills a person it doesn't eat him. Most bears that eat people are disruptive ones that have a "history of habituation and food conditioning" (been feed by humans and then had the food supply cut off). In May 1998, a hiker in Glacier National Park in the United States was chased several hundred yards down a hill and killed by a family of bears that ate the hiker. Rangers discovered the partly consumed body.

On average bears kills two or three people and injure one or two dozen a year in North America, with these numbers equally divided among brown bears and more numerous black bears. About twenty people have been killed in the past century at Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. The vast majority of bear attacks result from mother bears defending their cubs. There have been a number of attacks by bears encountering people at garbage dumps. In 1974, a photographer was killed in Alaska after pitching his tent to close to a frequently used bear trail.

Grizzly bear attacks are rare but they do occur. In September 2011, a grizzly attacked and killed a hunter in northwestern Montana within sight of another hunter. Earlier that year, grizzly bears killed two men in Yellowstone National Park, according to the park's superintendent. “Jacob Fowler heard the sound of a skull cracking inside a bear's jaws before realising it was his own. Al Johnson (not the singer) was luckier. In his case the grizzly's teeth merely scraped the bone of his skull, allowing his head to pop out "like a pinched marble". [Source: “The Book of Deadly Animals” by Gordon Grice, Peter Marren, December 9, 2011

Dru Sefton of the Newhouse News Service wrote: In August 2000, “a Calgary, Alberta, a man was mauled by a grizzly in the Kananaskis Country of Canada’s Rockies. It was the second incident in 12 hours; those were the first attacks there in 22 years. In September, attacks have been reported in Hoonah, Alaska; Anchorage; McLeod Lake , British Columbia; and Yellowstone National Park. [Source: Dru Sefton, Newhouse News Service, Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 1, 2000]

Dru Sefton of the Newhouse News Service wrote: Statistics on bear attacks are difficult to compile. Many happen in remote wilderness and go unreported. University of Calgary environmental scientist Stephen Herrero, author of " Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance," estimated that on average, bears kill three people and seriously injure between five and 15 annually in North America. "Overall the injury rates are very low considering the millions of interactions that occur each year," he added. But in August, Herrero told the Calgary Herald that the number of bear attacks this year is among the highest since biologists began keeping records 28 years ago. Specific numbers were unavailable. [Source: Dru Sefton, Newhouse News Service, Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 1, 2000]

Brown Bears Attacking Humans

Attacking bears do no rise on their hind legs, bear their the teeth and hug their victims to death as is sometimes seen in the movies. Instead they charge on all fours with their ears pinned back and bite or slash their victims in the neck or the head or some other place. They are very strong and can easily kill a person if that is their intention.

Describing a brown charge, Douglas Chadwick wrote in National Geographic, "The bear stepped out from behind a boulder. I had a ring of pale fur circling its chest and muscle-humped shoulders. I shrank back; I caught my movements. I stood exposed. The beast surged towards me and reared up to work over my scent with a head the size of mine...Then it left."

One rangers who was pulled out of a tree by an angry sow said that while he was lying underneath the attacking bear he considered playing dead but instead hit and cussed at the bear, who eventually gave up and fled.

Describing a bear charge, a bear researcher told National Geographic, "The bear rushed down a hill at us, huffing as he came. We didn't have a gun, but I was a carrying a spray can of red pepper. I got him in the face with a stream of it when he was 15 feet away or so. It slowed him down, and he crashed into some branches. He recovered after thrashing around and took me to the ground. There he gave me a sort of light bite to the stomach. In the meantime I'm yelling and emptying everything the spray can right in his face. Nose, Eyes. He broke off and ran, shaking and rubbing his head."

Brown Attacks in Kamchatka Russia

In December 2003, a bear mauled a man to death in the Kronotsky wildlife reserve on Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. The Kamchatka rescue service reported that one of the oldest workers of the reserve and well-known Kamchatka photographer and hunting specialist Vitaly Nikolayenko fell victim to a big bear 1.5 kilometers from the rangers' station. According to to RIA Novosti: “Nikolayenko was taking a photograph of the animal and failed to use the weapon he was carrying when the bear attacked him. The rescue workers brought the body to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. A total of about 600 Kamchatka bears live on the territory of the Kronotsky wildlife refuge but cases of attacks on man by beasts of prey are extremely rare. [Source: RIA Novosti, December 30, 2003]

During the spring the bears around Kurilskoye Lake emerge from hibernation "hungry, sex-starved and irritable" and wander through settlements on the lake as they approach the shore to fish. They often tear up gardens and root through garbage. Over the years more than 100 problem bears have been killed. In the summer of 1993 one pulled a camper from a tent and mauled him. Local residents later tracked and shot the bear. In 1996, the Japanese-American bear photographer Michio Hoshimo was pulled from his tent and eaten by a bear at Kronotsky Nature Reserve.

Brown Bear Carnage in Romanian Forest

In October 2004, the BBC reported: “ A brown bear attacked and killed one person and mauled seven others in a forest in Romania's Transylvania region before being shot dead by hunters. Believed to be a she-bear, the animal attacked and injured five people out picking mushrooms and fell on three others in another part of the woods. The animal also attacked an ambulance sent to the scene of the first attack. Armed police and hunters were sent into the woods near Brasov and the city's mayor declared a state of emergency. [Source: BBC, October 16, 2004 |+|]

“Hunters said the bear had been foraging for food when it came upon the mushroom-pickers who were too shocked to escape. All five received "multiple, serious wounds" and were taken to hospital in a critical condition, said Dr Liviu Stelea, who treated victims at the scene. Half-an-hour after the first victims were rescued, emergency services were called to the edge of the forest where another attack had left one man dead and two badly injured. One of the hunters who finally tracked down and killed the animal was also slightly injured by the bear before it was shot. |+|

“Romania has thousands of brown bears living in the wild and they often come close to Brasov, which is surrounded by large forested areas in the Carpathian Mountains. It is illegal to hunt them without a permit but bear attacks have been rare. Local officials quoted by The Associated Press said this was the worst such incident in many years in Romania. In July, two Romanians were seriously injured in after three hungry bears attacked them as they emerged from a block of houses in a Brasov suburb.” |+|

Brown Bear Mauls Man on Kodiak Island

In October 2000, a 53-year-old man who had been on bear watch at a federal clean-up site on Kodiak Island was mauled by a large grizzly. Charles Brent Hudson of Houston suffered a laceration to his neck, a broken rib, a crushed thumb and puncture wounds to his shoulder and buttocks, Alaskan State troopers said. [Source: Peter Porco Anchorage Daily News, October 10, 2000 ^*^]

Peter Porco wrote in the Anchorage Daily News, “Reached at the hospital, Hudson said he had gotten pretty beat up during an attack that lasted all of 30 to 45 seconds. Hudson, the health and safety officer for Jacob's Engineering, was working as a "bear guard" at an Army Corps of Engineers cleanup site near the east side of Lake Catherine outside the city of Kodiak, troopers said. He carried no firearm. ^*^

“Hudson was alone in a wooded area not more than half a mile from other workers on heavy equipment, said Fish and Wildlife Protection Troopers Sgt. Joanna Roop. "He heard something come up behind him," Roop said. "He thinks the bear was bedded down in the timber and within about 20 feet of where he initially heard him, and the victim tried to run for some dense trees, and the bear came up behind him." ^*^

“He said the grizzly "ran me down and bowled me over," Roop said. Hudson curled into a ball on the ground, facedown, with his hands covering his head in the classic play-dead posture sometimes recommended by bear experts. The bear, which he described as a dark boar, rolled him over twice and then ran off, Roop said. Hudson called for help on his radio and was eventually airlifted to the hospital in a Coast Guard helicopter. The bear did not return to the area, Roop said. Investigators determined the bear did not stalk Hudson, nor did Hudson have any food on him, she said. The bear apparently had not been wounded in any way. So authorities did not pursue it. ^*^

Bear Kills, Eats Man in Alaska

In July 2000, in a rare predatory attack, a brown bear killed and partially ate a man at a campground a few miles from a bear-viewing site in far southeast Alaska. George Tullos, 41, was found at the Run Amuck campground near Hyder, a small community on the Canadian border about 75 miles northeast of Ketchikan. ``It was not a matter of slapping him around. The bear ate on him,'' Alaskan state trooper Sgt. Steve Garrett said. [Source: Associated Press, July 17, 2000 |=|]

Associated Press reported: “After the bear was shot and killed, biologists found the victim's flesh in its stomach, said Bruce Dinneford, regional management coordinator for the state Division of Wildlife Conservation. The U.S. Forest Service maintains a bear-viewing site near Hyder, but the campground is more than three miles away from the tourist attraction, said Paul Larkin, who operates the viewing area. |=|

“The 300-pound male bear showed up about 10 days ago and quickly became a problem for a town of 140 accustomed to bears, rummaging through garbage and scrounging for food. ``This was a bear who was an opportunist, taking advantage of what he could find,'' Larkin said. ``We don't see many bears like this, thank goodness.'' The night before the attack, Larkin and others tried to trap the bear so it could be moved out of town, but were thwarted by a faulty trigger mechanism in the trap. |=|

“Tullos, who was in Hyder for the summer to work at a restaurant, had apparently gone to the secluded area of the campground to sleep, Larkin said. After his body was found, workers at a nearby sawmill spotted the bear at the dump. Workers shot the animal.

Predatory bear attacks are very rare because bears perceive humans as a threat rather than prey, said Bruce Bartley, a spokesman for the state wildlife division. Bartley could recall only three reported cases of bears attacking people and eating them in the past 20 years. The Hyder attack was the first one his agency has heard about in Alaska this year, Bartley said.

Bear Scientist Eaten by Bear, but Did it Kill Him?

In 2004, Alaska woodsman and predator scientist Bart Schleyer was eaten by a grizzly bear but it wasn’t clear whether the bear killed him. Craig Medred wrote in the Anchorage Daily News, “Analysis of bear scat found along the shores of a remote lake in the Yukon Territory has confirmed that Schleyer was eaten by a grizzly bear. Exactly how remains a mystery. Schleyer, who had spent most of his professional life working with dangerous bears and even more dangerous tigers, disappeared in mid-September while on a moose hunting trip to the Reid Lakes, 15 miles east of a tiny cluster of human habitation along the Klondike Highway known as Stewart Crossing. [Source: Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, December 19, 2004 /+\]

“An initial search by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found his camp along one of the lakes, but turned up no sign of Schleyer. Canadian friends who went back for a better look after the Mounties left found more. Near where Schleyer's boat was tied to the shoreline down the lake from his camp, friend Dib Williams of Whitehorse and Wayne Curry, a pilot from Pelly Crossing, found arrows in a homemade quiver and Schleyer's meticulously crafted, homemade bow. Next to the bow and arrows, Curry said, was a dry bag full of gear with a crease in it like someone had been sitting there. Curry and Williams thought it looked like the sort of place where someone might sit to try and call bull moose. /+\

“Both thought the scene looked as if Schleyer could have gotten up and wandered away just minutes before. But they had an uneasy feeling, because they knew by then he'd been missing for days. Further investigation, Curry said, revealed an even more troubling discovery -- a face mask with blood and hair in it. Curry and Williams decided to fly back to civilization and summon the Mounties. The law enforcement officials arrived back at the Reid Lakes on Oct. 3 with Yukon conservation officers and enough civilian volunteers to start a grid search of the area near the face mask. /+\

“The search turned up bear and wolf sign, a ball cap, a pair of camouflage pants, a camera, a few bones and part of a skull. The skull, with teeth, made identification possible. From all indications, the discovery of the skull also pretty much brought the search to an end. Searchers never returned to Reid Lakes after finding the few bones.Clothing, or remnants of clothing, from Schleyer's upper body were never found. Nor were his boots. Nor most of his bones. /+\

“The bones found were shipped to a Vancouver pathologist for examination. The pathologist didn't have much to work with in trying to determine how Schleyer might have died, said Yukon coroner Sharon Hanley. All he could conclude, she added, was that the bones had been gnawed on by animals -- one of which, based on the size of bite marks, was a bear. "We don't know if other animals scavenged besides the bear,'' Hanley added. The official cause of death was "undetermined,'' she added. "We didn't really have any choice. It's not all that common to have bear maulings.'' /+\

“Wolf and fox tracks were found in the area of Schleyer's remains. And some bear scat was bagged by a Yukon conservation officer at the scene. The scat turned out to contain bits of human flesh, proving that a bear had indeed eaten Schleyer. Whether it killed him, however, remains an open question. Wildlife experts have staked out opposite camps. All agree that no one will ever know for sure what happened, but there the agreement ends.” /+\

Alaska Hiker Killed by a Single Bear Bite

In May 1999, a man on a day hike in a rural area near Anchorage was killed when a bear bit his head. Associated Press reported: “Kenneth Cates, 53, was found Wednesday morning on a horse trail in a heavily wooded area of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near his hometown of Soldotna. The attack happened about six miles off a busy road. The area is about 60 miles southwest of Anchorage. His only visible wound was a single bite to the head, said Bruce Bartley, a spokesman for the state Division of Wildlife Conservation. [Source: Associated Press, May 26, 1999 >>>]

“State and federal wildlife officials were looking for the bear involved in the attack. If the bear is judged to pose a continuing threat to humans it may be killed. Alaskan State troopers said Cates' .280-caliber rifle and two spent shell casings were found near the body, along with traces of blood that suggest that Cates may have wounded the animal. ``We don't know if one was a warning shot and one real, or if there were two real shots,'' Bartley said. >>>

Cates' death is the first fatal bear mauling in Alaska since Feb. 8, 1998, when Audelio Luis Cortes, 40, was killed while working on a seismic crew in the Swanson River oil field near Kenai. Cortes also died from a single head bite. >>>

Hiker Photographs Grizzly Bear Just Before It Kills Him

A southern California man killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska's backcountry was shooting photos of the animal that killed him just moments before the attack, a National Park Service official said. CNN reported: “The bear that killed Richard White, 49, was still with his body when rangers found him in Denali National Park, the official said. The San Diego resident had been backpacking alone for three nights when he was mauled to death by the bear, according to a park service statement. Photographs found in his camera revealed that White was watching the bear for at least eight minutes near a river before the attack. "The bear was generally unaware that he was there until the last couple of shots, then his attention turned," park spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin said. [Source: By Alan Duke, CNN, August 27, 2012 ~]

“The photographs "are not that demonstrative" and show "nothing graphic, or any showing major signs of aggression," McLaughlin said. "We're not sure what happened after the camera was put down." State troopers, park rangers and wildlife biologists, using the photos to identify the "large male bear," shot and killed the animal as it was still "defending the kill site along the Toklat River as the recovery team attempted to reach White's remains," the park service said. ~

“A necropsy of the bear confirmed it was the animal that killed White, the statement said. The first sign of trouble came Friday afternoon, when three hikers noticed an abandoned backpack and signs of a struggle -- including torn clothing and blood -- along the river, the park service said. The hikers went back to a rest area, about three miles to the south, and alerted authorities around 5:30 p.m. About two and a half hours later, park rangers conducting an aerial search spotted at least one grizzly bear and, after touching down, the unidentified victim's remains. ~

The bear intially ran away, but returned to the site a short time later while the rangers were investigating the scene, forcing the rangers to retreat, the park service said. After the bear began to circle around them and as darkness was setting in, the rangers decided to wait to remove the body. The area of the Denali backcountry where the attack occurred was closed "until further notice." About 12 grizzly bears have been living this summer around where Friday's attack occurred, the park said, citing wildlife biologists. This attack is the "first known bear mauling fatality" recorded in Denali National Park and Preserve, according to the park service.

Grizzly Man’s Mauling Recorded on Tape

Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man is about a man, Timothy Treadwell, who lived among grizzlies as was ultimately eaten by them. Herzog said the story shows that the world is not about peace and harmony but rather “chaos, hostility and murder.” See Humans and Brown Bears

The dying cries of Treadwell and his girlfriend were recorded on tape. Rachel D'oro of Associated Press wrote: “The graphic sounds of a fatal bear attack were recorded, Alaska state troopers discovered while reviewing a tape recovered near the bodies of a wildlife author and his girlfriend. Trooper Chris Hill said Timothy Treadwell may have been wearing a wireless microphone likely activated when he was attacked by the brown bear at Katmai National Park and Preserve. The videotape has audio only; the screen remains blank for the three-minute recording. "They're both screaming. She's telling him to play dead, then it changes to fighting back. He asks her to hit the bear," Hill said. "There's so much noise going on. I don't know what's him and what might be an animal." [Source: Rachel D'oro, Associated Press, October 8, 2003 ^^^]

“The bodies of Treadwell, 46, and Amie Huguenard, 37, both of Malibu, Calif., were found near Kaflia Bay after an air taxi pilot arrived to pick them up. The pilot contacted the National Park Service and state troopers to report a brown bear was apparently sitting on top of human remains at the campsite. After rangers arrived one of them shot and killed a large brown bear when the animal charged through the dense brush. Rangers and troopers later killed a smaller bear apparently stalking them. ^^^

“An autopsy on the human remains confirmed the couple were killed by bears. Troopers recovered video and still photography equipment as well as three hours of video footage from the site, across Shelikof Strait from Kodiak Island. Much of the footage is close-up shots of bears for which Treadwell was well-known. Some scenes show bears no more than a few feet from Treadwell, co-author of "Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska." Others show a more timid Huguenard leaning away as bears come close to her on the bank of a river.” ^^^

The film Grizzly Man does not air the recording of the attack that killed Treadwell and his girlfriend. Viewers do, however, see Werner Herzog listening to the tape, but Herzog decided not to feature the recording in the film. According to IMDb: “During the attack which claims the life of Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, a videocamera was left running. While the lens cap was left on the camera does record the last moments of their lives. The tape is now in possession of one of Treadwell's friends, who has never listened to it. Out of respect for Timothy Treadwell and Annie Huguenard, and out of basic human decency, Herzog does not include the recording in the film, although there is a scene of him listening to it. It should be pointed out that since the manner of Treadwell and Huguenard's deaths are known from forensic evidence, including the audio tape would have no instructive value to the film and would only serve to feed the morbid curiosity of many people.”

Survivors of Alaskan Grizzly Bear Maulings

Colleen Sinnott, an elementary school teacher in the Alaska town of Kasilof, and her husband, John Poljacik, were walking their two dogs along a rural trail. The couple was about 100 yards from their car when Sinnott glimpsed what she thought was a moose charging from the alders. It was not a moose. [Source: alaska.com, Anchorage Daily News, October 11, 2005 /~/]

“The bear charged and slammed Sinnott to the ground. She suffered a deep gash along her head and shoulder injuries. Alaska.com reported: “Sinnott, 50, suffered serious injuries to her head, chest and side and was taken to Central Peninsula General Hospital, troopers said in a statement. Sinnott and Poljacik, an architect, had parked at a pullout and were walking their two 7-month-old Newfoundland puppies when they spied a brown bear in the distance and turned back, trooper Terrence Shanigan told the Peninsula Clarion. /~/

“Sinnott went down, unable to grab her pepper spray in time, then crouched behind a tree. She told Shanigan that the whole thing was "just a flash," the Clarion reported. Sinnott told her husband that he should go find the dogs while she went to get help. Neither of them realized the seriousness of her injuries at the time, troopers said later. /~/

“Sinnott flagged down a car within a few minutes, and troopers received a cell phone report of the attack about 3:40 p.m.The driver took Sinnott to Watson Lake on the Sterling Highway, where she was transferred to a Central Emergency Services ambulance and taken to the hospital. It turned out Sinnott suffered from a large slash that opened her scalp across the back of her head, a wound hidden under her long hair, Shanigan told the Clarion. /~/

In July 2011, a grizzly that was with her cub attacked a group of seven teens participating in a survival skills course, badly injuring two in the group. According to CBS affiliate KTVA: “The teens were towards the end of a 30-day backcountry course by the National Outdoor Leadership School when the attack occurred about 120 miles north of Anchorage. The attack took place in the evening. The victims were rescued the morning after the attack. NOLS spokesman Bruce Palmer says another group of seven students and three instructors has been waiting about six miles away for a helicopter hired by the Lander, Wyo.-based organization. Palmer says 17-year-old Joshua Berg of New City, N.Y., and 17-year-old Samuel Gottsegen of Denver were the worst injured with bear bite wounds. Teens told troopers that the bear was first spotted around 8:30 p.m. Saturday while crossing a river single file, KTVA reports. Those at the front of the line screamed the news of the approaching bear to those at the back. Troopers said that the two teens at the front of the line received the brunt of the bear attack.[Source: CBS, Associated Press, July 24, 2011]

Grizzly Bear Attacks in British Columbia

In October 2014, a 56-year-old man was mauled by a grizzly bear and shot by his friend while hunting near Fernie, British Columbia. Negar Mojtahedi of the Global News wrote: “Early Sunday morning, conservation officers and emergency crews responded to reports of grizzly bear attack in the Elk Valley. “This is a somewhat remote area and there’s no history with this bear,” said Sgt. Cam Schley, a conservation officer from Cranbrook. The victim’s hunting partner shot and killed the 400 pound male grizzly bear. In the process, he accidentally shot his friend. His injuries are the result of being mauled by the animal and from gunfire. The victim’s hunting partner was not injured by the grizzly bear. “The two men were not hunting grizzly bears. [Source: Negar Mojtahedim Global News, October 13, 2014 +++]

““It’s not common to encounter a grizzly in that close a range. Attacks are very rare,” said Sgt. Schley. On July 5, 2013 a hiking trail in Fernie was closed after two men were attacked by a grizzly bear. Both men were hiking on the Mount Proctor Trail when the animal charged and attacked them. One hiker discharged pepper spray and the other shot at it before the female grizzly bear fled into the bushes with her cub. In September 2013, a 54-year-old Calgary business man who had been hunting sheep in southern Alberta’s Kananaskis Country was found dead after a fatal bear attack. +++

“In the most recent Fernie grizzly attack, the bear is being frozen and will be examined by conservation officers over the next few days. David Karn, a spokesman for B.C.’s Ministry of Environment, says the victim was in stable condition when he left the area. He is currently at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary and is now believed to be in critical condition.” +++

70-Year-Old Hunter Killed by Grizzly Bear

In September 2000, a 70-year-old hunter was killed by a grizzly bear in northern British Columbia. Helen Plischke and Frank Luba wrote in The Province: “Max Tylee has hunted and trapped almost all his 70 years, but not even his bush smarts could keep him safe from a rampaging grizzly. Tylee was rushed to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster with critical head wounds after he was mauled by a grizzly bear not far from the McLeod Lake reserve, near Mackenzie in northern B.C. "The skin (on his head) was pulled back and the forehead was pulled back over his eyes," said Tylee's son-in-law, Alec Chingee. It's suspected the grizzly's teeth punctured Tylee's skull. The elderly man also had teeth marks on his hands and ear. [Source: Helen Plischke and Frank Luba, The Province September 5, 2000 */*]

“The attack happened when Tylee and his wife, Josie, 63, went moose hunting Sunday afternoon along the Phillips Forest service road. They stopped near the 16-kilometre mark, where Max left the truck and walked into the bush, said his daughter, Georgina Chingee, 46. When Josie, waiting in the truck, heard Max yelling, she grabbed their rifle and headed for the bush. "I looked back for him and he wasn't there," said Josie. "I kept calling for him . . . The grizzly bear came out and ran toward me. I hightailed it back to the truck." When the bear left, she called: "Honey, honey, where are you? But it was totally silent." Josie sped down the logging road for help but 90 minutes passed before she could return with help. Tylee was lying on the road and the bear was gone.

Grizzly Bear Attacks at Yellowstone

In July 2011, a California man died in Yellowstone National Park after inadvertently walking into a grizzly bear and her cubs. It was the first fatal grizzly attack inside Yellowstone in 25 years. The hiker was with his wife when he "surprised" the sow, which killed him "in an attempt to defend a perceived threat to her cubs," the National Park Service said in a statement. A group of hikers heard the wife's cries and used a cell phone to call 911. Park Rangers responded but did not put down the mother grizzly. [Source: Daily Mail, July 8, 2011]

Park officials did not kill that animal because they determined it was the female protecting its cubs. But the park did kill a four-year-old male grizzly a few weeks later after that 258lb (117kg) animal charged - but did not injure - a man sitting on a hiking trail near Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone National Park covers parts of three states - Wyoming, Montana and Idaho - and is home to more than 600 bears, which can be as large as 600lb (272kg).

A few weeks later another man was killed by a grizzly at Yellowstone. The BBC reported: “The body of John Wallace, 59, from Michigan, was found on along the Mary Mountain Trail. Dan Wenk, a park superintendent, said there were no witnesses to the attack. "We think we provide visitors with pretty good knowledge and techniques to keep them safe in the backcountry," said Mr Wenk. "Unfortunately, in this case it didn't happen that way." “Park rangers are setting traps to capture and kill the animal that attacked the Michigan man. The bear that killed him is believed to be a different animal to the one that killed the Californian hiker.[Source: BBC, August 30, 2011]

A Death in Yellowstone--- On the trail of a killer grizzly bear (April 2, 2012) is a lengthy account by Jennifer Grose in Slate of how wildlife investigators found a killer grizzly in Yellowstone and the history of grizzly attacks in the park. slate.com.

Bear Hunter Killed by Grizzly Bear in Montana

In September 2011, a bear hunter was killed by a wounded grizzly after trying to lure it away from another hunter — part of the group that shot the bear — on the Idaho-Montana border. Global Post reported: “Steve Stevenson, 39, a father of two, was the third person to be killed by a grizzly bear in the U.S. since July. Stevenson and Ty Bell, 20, the man he saved by distracting the bear were part of a four-man hunting party from of Winnemucca, Nevada, tracking black bears in the mountains. One of the group had already shot the bear when it attacked. The authorities said the hunters had thought the animal was a black bear when they wounded it — grizzly bears are a protected species in the U.S., according to a report in the Daily News. [Source: Global Post, September 18, 2011 19:29

Stephenson and Bell had waited until they thought the bear was dead before tracking it into some thick cover. "They both shot it and it kept coming," Stevenson's mother, Janet Price, told the AP. "Steve yelled at it to try and distract it, and it swung around and took him down. It's what my son would have done automatically, for anybody." Bell reportedly shot the bear several times and killed it — but only after it had attacked Stevenson, authorities said.

Price told authorities that her son and Bell were licensed to shoot black bears and were aware that there were grizzly in the area. Police said hunters often confuse the two species. "Anytime you have a wounded animal it can be dangerous," John Fraley, spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the AP. "But usually, grizzlies are considered more aggressive than black bears." Fraley estimated the bear’s age at 6 to 8, based on its weight of 400 pounds. "That’s a good-sized grizzly bear," he said, adding that it was said the grizzly was one of about 45 living in that are of northwest Montana and northern Idaho.

Meanwhile, Idaho has updated its legislation to clarify that it is legal for people to harm grizzlies in the defense of themselves and others. According to politicalnews.me: The Delegation members note that these proposed changes to the law would be a drastic improvement over the current ESA regulations protecting the grizzly bear, which make it possible, but extremely difficult to legally take a grizzly bear in an act of self-defense or defense of another human. The new legislation states: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law . . . the provisions of this Act shall not apply with respect to the taking of any grizzly bear by an individual who demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence that the individual carried out the taking as a result of 1) self-defense; 2) defense of another individual; or 3) a reasonable belief of imminent danger posed by the grizzly bear to any individual."

Brown Bears Attacks in Japan

In May 1999, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported, a man was killed by a bear in Hokkaido. Two others were seriously injured. It was the first fatal bear attack in Japan in 9 years. The man was collecting wild plants when he was fatally attacked. When he did not return his family sent a search party out for him and found him dead. A short time later two women were out in the forest and presumably the same bear attacked them. They were not killed and are listed in serious condition in the hospital. Any animal is most dangerous when it loses it's fear of people. This bear was tracked down and killed. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, May 9, 1999]

In October 2005, a zookeeper died after being mauled on his head and leg by a brown bear at the Fuji Safari Park in Shizuoka. Japan Today reported: “Tomohiro Tamura, 34, who had been in charge of bears for three and a half years at the zoo, was pronounced dead at a hospital from blood loss, the police said. He had suffered injuries to his head and left leg. [Source: Japan Today, October 25, 2005]

Sankebetsu Brown Bear Incident of 1915

The Sankebetsu brown bear incident, also referred to as the Rokusensawa bear attack or the Tomamae brown bear incident was the worst bear attack in Japanese history, killing seven settlers in Rokusensawa, Sankebetsu, Tomamae, Rumoi, Hokkaido.The incident took place between December 9 and 14, 1915 after a large brown bear woke up from hibernation and repeatedly attacked several houses in the area. [Source: Wikipedia]

At dawn on in mid-November in 1915, an Ussuri brown bear appeared at the Ikeda family's house in Sankebetsu Rokusen-sawa, about 30 kilometers inland from the west coast of Hokkaido-. The surprise encounter panicked the family horse, but the bear fled after taking only harvested corn. On November 20, 1915, the bear reappeared. Worrying about the safety of the horse[citation needed], the head of the Ikeda family called on his second son, Kametaro-, and two Matagi from his own village and a neighbouring village. When the bear reappeared on November 30, they shot it but failed to kill it. The next morning they followed the bear's footprints, but a snowstorm forced them to turn back.

On December 9, 1915, at 10:30 a.m., the giant brown bear turned up at the home of the O-ta family. Abe Mayu, the farmer's wife, and Hasumi Mikio, a baby being taken care of by Mayu, were at the house. Mikio was bitten on the head and killed. Mayu fought back, apparently by throwing firewood, and tried to escape. She was overtaken, knocked down, and dragged into the forest. According to contemporary descriptions the scene resembled a slaughterhouse, with blood puddled on the farmhouse floor. [Ibid]

December 10 of the Sankebetsu Brown Bear Incident

Early in the morning on December 10, Saito- Ishigoro- and Miyoke Yasutaro- left the village on their respective errands. Meanwhile a search party comprising thirty men was organized to capture the brown bear and recover the remains of Mayu. This group entered the forest and had advanced no more than 150 meters when it met the brown bear. Five men shot at the bear, but only one managed to hit it. The enraged animal nevertheless retreated, and the men escaped injury. After the bear had fled, the hunters scouted the area and discovered dried blood on the snow at the base of a Sakhalin fir tree. Beneath the snow was the corpse of Mayu with only the head and parts of the legs remaining. The bear had cached the body of Mayu in the snow in an attempt to preserve it, as well as to hide it from scavengers. The villagers believed that once the bear had a taste for human flesh, its return to the settlement was assured. [Source: Wikipedia]

Later, Yayo, Miyoke Yasutaro-'s wife, was preparing a late meal while carrying her fourth son, Umekichi, on her back. She heard a rumbling noise outside, but before she could investigate, the bear broke through a window and entered the house. The cook pot on the hearth was overturned, dousing the flames, and in the ensuing panic the oil lamp was put out as well, plunging the house into darkness. Yayo tried to flee the house, but her second son, Yu-jiro-, clung to her legs, tripping her as she ran. The bear attacked her and bit Umekichi. [Ibid]

Odo had remained at the house as the only bodyguard. When he ran for the door, the bear released the mother and child to pursue him. Yayo then escaped with her children. Odo attempted to hide behind furniture, but was clawed in the back. The bear then mauled Kinzo-, the third son of the Miyoke family, and Haruyoshi, the fourth son of the Saito family, killing them, and bit Iwao, third son of Saito- family. Next to be targeted was Take, Saito- Ishigoro-'s pregnant wife. As the animal advanced she pled for her life and that of her unborn child, but it was in vain. She too was attacked, killed, and eaten. [Ibid]

The corps of guardsmen who had tracked the bear downriver realized that they were not, in fact, on its trail. As they hurried back to the settlement, a seriously injured Yayo met them and related the attack at the Miyoke family's house. The corps raced there to rescue any survivors. When they arrived, the house was dark, but sounds of an attack emerged. Believing that the bear had killed everyone inside, some of the guardsmen proposed setting the house on fire. Yayo, hoping that some of the children still lived, forbade this.

The guardsmen divided into two groups: one, consisting of ten men, stood guard at the door while the other group went to the back of the house. When given a signal, the group at the rear set up a racket, shouting and rattling their weapons. As expected, the bear appeared at the front door. The men there had bunched up, with lines of fire blocked by the guard at their head, whose own rifle misfired. Amid the general confusion and risk of crossfire, the bear escaped into the night. Carrying torches made of birch bark, they entered the house and beheld the results of the attack. [Ibid]

Rikizo- and Hisano, first son and daughter of the same relatives, were injured, but lived. The village people gathered in the school, and seriously injured people were accommodated in the Tsuji family house near the river. In two days, six people had lost their lives, one of them pregnant. After the incident, only veterans of the Russo-Japanese War remained at their posts. Yamamoto Heikichi and "Kesagake" Meanwhile, Saito- Ishigoro-, unaware of the family's fate, filed a report with authorities and the district police before returning to Tomakomai and lodging at a local hotel there. Miyoke Yasutaro- had heard that a man named Yamamoto Heikichi was an expert bear hunter, and so paid a visit to his house. Yamamoto was certain that the bear was "Kesagake" or "the diagonal slash from the shoulder", which had previously been blamed for the mauling and deaths of three women but by now he had pawned his gun for money to buy alcohol, and refused Miyoke's request for aid. Unable to return home, Yasutaro- stayed in Onishika, now Obiracho-. [Ibid]

December 11th and 12th of the Sankebetsu Brown Bear Incident

On December 11, Miyoke Yasutaro- and Saito- Ishigoro- returned to Sankebetsu. Noticing the villagers gathered at the branch school, the two pieced together the story of the mauling. A group of men was formed to kill the bear, including Miyoke and Saito-. They decided to wait for the bear at Miyoke's residence, believing that the bear would reappear. The night passed with no attack. [Source: Wikipedia]

The news of the bear's appearance in Sankebetsu reached the Hokkaido- Government Office, and under the leadership of the Hoboro (now Haboro town) branch police station, a sniper team was organized. Guns and volunteers for the team were gathered from nearby towns, and after getting permission from "Teishitsu Rinya kyoku" (the Imperial Forestry Agency", now "Rin'ya cho-"), the sniper team went to Sankebetsu that evening. Chief Inspector Suga, the branch office commissioner, went up the Rokusen sawa with the aim of viewing the Miyoke family house and assessing the state of the sniper team and met all those who got off the mountain pass. [Ibid]

The brown bear did not appear on December 12. Thinking of the future, the team decided to exterminate the bear even if they had to mobilize every possible resource. It was decided that the brown bear would most probably try to retrieve the bodies of those it had killed but there were no remains in the Miyoke family house. Therefore, a new plan was proposed: to attempt to lure out the brown bear with the corpse of a victim. The plan was widely condemned, especially by the O-ta, Saito-, and Miyoke families but it was decided that, for the future of the village, it was the best plan. Within the day, the strategy was executed. The sniper team consisted of six members, which now included Yamamoto Heikichi waited, but the bear stopped and appeared to check the inside of the house then returned to the forest. The bear did not appear again that night, and so the plan ended in failure. [Ibid]

At dawn, a search team discovered that the O-ta family's house was ransacked. The bear had eaten the people's winter food stockpile and ransacked the houses. The bear had damaged at least eight houses, but so far no one could find it. Suga motivated the men by cheering from the village outside. Given that there were now 60 armed men, it was decided that they should hunt in the surrounding mountains. Kesagake now seemed to lack prudence and stretched its territory downstream. The police captain, Suga, recognized the increasing risk of the situation. He made an ice bridge as a line of defence, then arranged snipers and guards. [Ibid]

That night, a sniper at the bridge thought he saw something in the shadows of the tree stumps on the opposite shore. Receiving this information, Suga thought it might be a man's shadow. When he spoke to it, however, he received no reply and ordered the snipers to open fire. At that moment the shadow, obviously that of the bear, disappeared into the forest. They were disappointed, having failed to kill the bear, but the captain thought he had heard some response from it. [Ibid]

End of the Sankebetsu Brown Bear Incident

The next morning, a team investigated the opposite shore and found a bear's footprint and blood there. Given that Kesagake had again been wounded, that snowstorms appeared imminent and since fresh snow could cover any tracks, it was decided that this was the most critical opportunity to hunt down and kill the bear. It was Yamamoto and Ikeda Kamejiro-, a guide, who immediately set out after the bear. Yamamoto decided to track the bear with a team of two, as they would be quicker than a larger team. This was particularly important given the possibility of a snowstorm and the loss of any tracks. [Source: Wikipedia]

Yamamoto was familiar with Kesagake's behaviour and successfully tracked him down. Yamamoto spotted Kesagake resting near a Japanese oak. He approached to within 20 meters of the bear and shot at Kesagake. His first shot hit the bear's heart and the second shot his head. When measured, the bear was 340 kg (749 lbs) and 2.7 m (8.85 ft) tall. A necropsy was carried out on the bear during which parts of his victims were found in his stomach. While at the time the skull and some of the fur of the bear were kept, they later were lost and no traces of Kesagake are left. [Ibid] Aftermath

Yayo, who received head wounds in the attack, made a full recovery, but Miyoke Umekichi, who was bitten by the bear as the child was being carried by its mother, died less than three years later from the wounds he had suffered. Odo recovered from injury and returned to work, but next spring he fell into a river and died. It was unclear whether the injury inflicted by the brown bear had caused the accident. After the attack, most of the villagers of Rokusen sawa soon left, and the town rapidly transformed into a ghost town. [Ibid]

O-kawa Haruyoshi, who was seven years old and the son of the Sankebetsu village mayor at the time of the incident, grew up to become an excellent bear hunter. He swore an oath to kill ten bears for every victim of the attack. By the time he reached the age of 62, he had killed 102 bears. He then retired and constructed the bear harm cenotaph, a shrine where people can pray for the dead villagers. Takayoshi, Haruyoshi's son, in 1980---after an eight-year chase---hunted down a 500 kg brown bear who was nicknamed the north sea Taro. [Ibid]

Six Bears Escape from a Bear Park and Kill Two People in Japan

In April 2012, six bears escaped from their enclosure at Japanese park, killing two women before hunters shot them dead. AP reported: “Police in northern Japan say a group of bears that escaped from their enclosure at a park have killed two people. Police said that two female employees in their 60s and 70s at the park near Kazuno City in Akita prefecture were believed to have been feeding the bears from outside the concrete fence before they escaped. Their mangled bodies were found hours after a colleague escaped and called for help. Hunters later shot and killed all six escaped bears. Police believe the bears climbed over the fence by climbing onto high-piled snowdrifts. They are investigating the case as possible professional negligence causing death. The privately owned park owns 32 other bears. [Source: AP, April 20, 2012]

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “Rescue workers witnessed a bear climbing over a concrete wall to escape from an open-air play area at the Hachimantai Bear Farm in Kazuno, Akita Prefecture, where two female employees were killed by brown bears, sources said. Six bears, including the one seen by rescue workers, were killed by local hunters. They were believed to have escaped from the enclosure, climbing over the 4.5-meter-high wall by climbing up accumulated snow left in a corner of the play area. The Akita prefectural police found several bear tracks in the snow when they searched the site on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, April 22, 2012]

“Meanwhile, a male employee who was unharmed admitted to The Yomiuri Shimbun that the farm's employees had not removed any snow from the play area this winter. According to a local fire station, three rescue workers arrived near the farm's entrance at about 10:30 a.m." When they inspected the site based on a report that bears had escaped, they saw a bear climbing over the wall. The police said the two victims were believed to be Tachi Tatehana, 69, and Take Tatehana, 75, both of the Hachimantai-Sakabitai district of Kazuno. [Ibid]

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2016

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