Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-m8s7h Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-17T11:03:29.674Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Chapter 17 - Patterns of Bear Attacks on Humans, Factors Triggering Risky Scenarios, and How to Reduce Them

from Part III - Human–Bear Coexistence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2020

Vincenzo Penteriani
Spanish Council of Scientific Research (CSIC)
Mario Melletti
WPSG (Wild Pig Specialist Group) IUCN SSC
Get access


The media and scientific literature are increasingly reporting an escalation of large carnivore attacks on humans, mainly in the so-called developed countries, such as Europe and North America. Although large carnivore populations have generally increased in developed countries, increased numbers are not solely responsible for the observed rise in the number of attacks. Of the eight bear species inhabiting the world, two (i.e. the Andean bear and the giant panda) have never been reported to attack humans, whereas the other six species have: sun bears Helarctos malayanus, sloth bears Melursus ursinus, Asiatic black bears Ursus thibetanus, American black bears Ursus americanus, brown bears Ursus arctos, and polar bears Ursus maritimus. This chapter provides insights into the causes, and as a result the prevention, of bear attacks on people. Prevention and information that can encourage appropriate human behavior when sharing the landscape with bears are of paramount importance to reduce both potentially fatal human–bear encounters and their consequences to bear conservation.

Bears of the World
Ecology, Conservation and Management
, pp. 239 - 249
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Acharya, K. P., Paudel, P. K., Neupane, P. R. & Köhl, M. (2016). Human–wildlife conflicts in Nepal: patterns of human fatalities and injuries caused by large mammals. PLoS ONE 11: 118.Google Scholar
Akhtar, N. (2006). Human–sloth bear conflict: a threat to sloth bear conservation. International Bear News 15: 1517.Google Scholar
Akiyama, G., Kuwahara, H., Asahi, R., Tosa, R. & Yokota, H. (2017). Prompt procedures have a great impact on the consequences of Asiatic black bear mauling. Journal of Nippon Medical School 84: 294300.Google Scholar
Ali, A., Waseem, M., Teng, M., et al. (2018). Human–Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) interactions in the Kaghan Valley, Pakistan. Ethology Ecology and Evolution 30: 399415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, K. (1957). Man-eaters and jungle killers. London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd.Google Scholar
Arimoto, I., Okamura, H., Koike, S., Yamazaki, K. & Kaji, K. (2014). Behavior and habitat of Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus) inhabiting near settlements. Honyuruikagaku 54: 1931.Google Scholar
Bargali, H. S., Akhtar, N. & Chauhan, N. P. S. (2005). Characteristics of sloth bear attacks and human casualties in North Bilaspur Forest Division, Chhattisgarh, India. Ursus 16: 263267.Google Scholar
Bombieri, G., Delgado, M. del M., Russo, L. F., et al. (2018a). Patterns of wild carnivore attacks on humans in urban areas. Scientific Reports 8: 17728.Google Scholar
Bombieri, G., Nanni, V., Delgado, M. del M., et al. (2018b). Content analysis of media reports on predator attacks on humans: toward an understanding of human risk perception and predator acceptance. BioScience 68: 577584.Google Scholar
Bombieri, G., Naves, J., Penteriani, V., et al. (2019). Brown bear attacks on humans: a worldwide perspective. Scientific Reports 9: 8573. ScholarPubMed
Brower, C. (1942). Fifty years below zero: A lifetime of adventure in the Far North. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead and Company.Google Scholar
Burton, R. G. (1856). A book of man eaters (first edition 1931). Delhi: Mittal Publications.Google Scholar
Chapron, G., Kaczensky, P., Linnell, J.D.C., et al. (2014). Recovery of large carnivores in Europe’s modern human-dominated landscapes. Science 346: 15171519.Google Scholar
Charoo, S. A., Sharma, L. K. & Sathyakumar, S. (2011). Asiatic black bear–human interactions around Dachigam National Park, Kashmir, India. Ursus 22: 106113.Google Scholar
Clark, D. (2003). Polar bear–human interactions in Canadian national parks, 1986–2000. Ursus 14: 6571.Google Scholar
Conover, M.R. (2008). Why are so many people attacked by predators? Human–Wildlife Interactions 2: 139140.Google Scholar
Debata, S., Swain, K. K., Sahu, H. K. & Palei, H. S. (2017). Human–sloth bear conflict in a human-dominated landscape of northern Odisha, India. Ursus 27: 9098.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dhamorikar, A. H., Mehta, P., Bargali, H. & Gore, K. (2017). Characteristics of human–sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) encounters and the resulting human casualties in the Kanha–Pench corridor, Madhya Pradesh, India. PLoS ONE 12: 118.Google Scholar
Dharaiya, N., Bargali, H. S. & Sharp, T. (2016). Melursus ursinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T13143A45033815 (WWW document). Scholar
Fenton, L. L. (1909). Tiger attacking a bear. Bombay Natural History Society 979.Google Scholar
Fleck, S. & Herrero, S. (1988). Polar bear–human conflicts. Contract report for Parks Canada and GNWT, contract 502/85/23.Google Scholar
Garcia, K. C., Joshi, H. M. & Dharaiya, N. (2016). Assessment of human–sloth bear conflicts in North Gujarat, India. Ursus 27: 510.Google Scholar
Garrote, P. J., Delgado, M. del M., López-Bao, J. V., et al. (2017). Individual attributes and party affect large carnivore attacks on humans. European Journal of Wildlife Research 63: 80.Google Scholar
Herrero, S. (1972). Aspects of evolution and adaptation in American black bears (Ursus americanus Pallas) and brown and grizzly bears (U. arctos Linné.) of North America. Bears: Their Biology and Management 2: 221.Google Scholar
Herrero, S. (2018). Bear attacks: Their causes and avoidance, 3rd edition. New York, NY: Lyons & Burford.Google Scholar
Herrero, S. & Higgins, A. (2003). Human injuries inflicted by bears in Alberta: 1960–98. Ursus (Knoxville) 14: 4454.Google Scholar
Herrero, S., Higgins, A., Cardoza, J. E., Hajduk, L. I. & Smith, T. S. (2011). Fatal attacks by American black bear on people: 1900–2009. Journal of Wildlife Management 75: 596603.Google Scholar
Hwang, M. H. & Garshelis, DL . (2007). Activity patterns of Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) in the Central Mountains of Taiwan. Journal of Zoology 271: 203209.Google Scholar
Jamtsho, Y. & Wangchuk, S. (2016). Assessing patterns of human–Asiatic black bear interaction in and around Wangchuck Centennial National Park, Bhutan. Global Ecology and Conservation 8: 183189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jangid, K. A. & Sharma, K. R. (2018). How locals characterize the causes of sloth bear attacks in Jawai, Rajasthan. International Bear News 27: 1112.Google Scholar
Japan Bear Network. (2006). Understanding Asian bears to secure their future. Ibaraki: Japan Bear Network.Google Scholar
Japan Bear Network. (2011). Report on statistics of the bear caused human injuries (in Japanese). Ibaraki: Japan Bear Network.Google Scholar
Kozakai, C., Yamazaki, K., Nemoto, Y., et al. (2011). Effect of mast production on home range use of Japanese black bears. Journal of Wildlife Management 75: 867875.Google Scholar
Kurt, F. & Jayasuriya, A. (1968). Notes on a dead bear. Loris 11: 182183.Google Scholar
Lal Moten, T., Bhat, T. A., Gulzar, A., Mir, A. & Mir, F. (2017). Causalities of human wildlife conflict in Kashmir valley, India; a neglected form of trauma: our 10 year study. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences 55: 18981902.Google Scholar
Laurie, A. & Seidensticker, J. (1977). Behavioural ecology of the sloth bear (Melursus ursinus). Journal of Zoology 182: 187204.Google Scholar
Littledale, H. (1889). Bears being eaten by tigers. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society 4: 316.Google Scholar
Mardaraj, P. C. (2015). Identifying key issues for the conservation of sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) in Rajnilgiri, Odisha, Eastern India. The Rufford Foundation, United Kingdom.Google Scholar
Mardaraj, P. & Dutta, S.K. (2011). Human–sloth bear conflict in Balasore Forest Division, Eastern India. Saarbrücken, Germany: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing GmbH & Co. KG.Google Scholar
Moen, G. K., Støen, O. G., Sahlén, V. & Swenson, J. E. (2012). Behaviour of solitary adult Scandinavian brown bears (Ursus arctos) when approached by humans on foot. PLoS ONE 7: e31699.Google Scholar
Nabi, D. G., Tak, S. R., Kangoo, K. A. & Halwai, M. A. (2009a). Comparison of injury pattern in victims of bear (Ursus thibetanus) and leopard (Panthera pardus) attacks. A study from a tertiary care center in Kashmir. European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery 35: 153158.Google Scholar
Nabi, D. G., Tak, S. R., Kangoo, K. A. & Halwai, M. A. (2009b). Increasing incidence of injuries and fatalities inflicted by wild animals in Kashmir. Injury 40: 8789.Google Scholar
National Park Service. (2019). Bear facts (WWW document). Available from Scholar
Nellemann, C., Støen, O. G., Kindberg, J., et al. (2007). Terrain use by an expanding brown bear population in relation to age, recreational resorts and human settlements. Biological Conservation 138: 157165.Google Scholar
Ordiz, A., Støen, O. G., Delibes, M. & Swenson, J. E. (2011). Predators or prey? Spatio-temporal discrimination of human-derived risk by brown bears. Oecologia 166: 5967.Google Scholar
Oshima, T., Ohtani, M. & Mimasaka, S. (2018). Injury patterns of fatal bear attacks in Japan: a description of seven cases. Forensic Science International 286: e14e19.Google Scholar
Penteriani, V., Delgado, M. del M., Pinchera, F., et al. (2016). Human behaviour can trigger large carnivore attacks in developed countries. Scientific Reports 6: 20552.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Penteriani, V., Bombieri, G., Fedriani, J. M., et al. (2017). Humans as prey: coping with large carnivore attacks using a predator–prey interaction perspective. Human–Wildlife Interactions 11: 192207.Google Scholar
Rajpurohit, K. S. & Krausman, P. R. (2000). Human–sloth bear conflicts in Madhya Pradesh, India. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28: 393399.Google Scholar
Ramachandran, A. (2009, November 11). Frozen with fear: stranded teen v polar bears. The Sydney Morning Herald (WWW document). Available from Scholar
Rasool, A., Wani, A. H., Darzi, M. A., et al. (2010). Incidence and pattern of bear maul injuries in Kashmir. Injury 41: 116119.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ratnayeke, S., Van Manen, F. T., Pieris, R. & Pragash, V. S. J. (2014). Challenges of large carnivore conservation: sloth bear attacks in Sri Lanka. Human Ecology 42: 467479.Google Scholar
Røskaft, E., Händel, B., Bjerke, T. & Kaltenborn, B. P. (2007). Human attitudes towards large carnivores in Norway. Wildlife Biology 13: 172185.Google Scholar
Sethy, J. & Chauhan, N.S. (2013). Human–sun bears conflict in Mizoram, North East India: impact and conservation management. International Journal of Conservation Science 4: 317328.Google Scholar
Sethy, J. & Chauhan, N. S. (2016). Status and distribution of Malayan sun bear in Namdapha Tiger Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh, India. International Journal of Conservation Science 7: 533552.Google Scholar
Shah, A., Mir, B., Ahmad, I., et al. (2010). Pattern of bear maul maxillofacial injuries in Kashmir. National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery 1: 96.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sharp, T. & Sonone, S. D. (2011). Sloth bear attacks: causes and consequences. International Bear Newsletter 20: 1417.Google Scholar
Sharp, T. R., Swaminathan, S., Arun, A. S., et al. (2017). Sloth bear attack behavior and a behavioral approach to safety. Final report to International Association for Bear Research and Management.Google Scholar
Silwal, T., Kolejka, J., Bhatta, B. P., et al. (2017). When, where and whom: assessing wildlife attacks on people in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Oryx 51: 370377.Google Scholar
Singh, N., Sonone, S., Rot, J. & Dharaiya, N. A. (2017). An unusual attractant spurs sloth bear break-ins in Maharashtra, India 26: 20–21.Google Scholar
Smith, T. S. & Herrero, S. (2018). Human–bear conflict in Alaska: 1880–2015. Wildlife Society Bulletin 42: 254263.Google Scholar
Smith, T. S., Herrero, S., Debruyn, T. D. & Wilder, J. M. (2008). Efficacy of bear deterrent spray in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 72: 640645.Google Scholar
Smith, T. S., Herrero, S., Layton, C. S., Larsen, R. T. & Johnson, K. R. (2012). Efficacy of firearms for bear deterrence in Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 76: 10211027.Google Scholar
Støen, O. G., Ordiz, A., Sahlén, V., et al. (2018). Brown bear (Ursus arctos) attacks resulting in human casualties in Scandinavia 1977–2016; management implications and recommendations. PLoS ONE 13: e0196876.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Swenson, J. E. (1999). Does hunting affect the behavior of brown bears in Eurasia? Ursus 11: 157162.Google Scholar
Tak, S. R., Nabi, D. G., Halwai, M. A. & Mir, B. A. (2009). Injuries from bear (Ursus thibetanus) attacks in Kashmir. Turkish Journal of Trauma & Emergency Surgery 15: 130134.Google Scholar
Wikipedia. (2019). Willem Barentsz (WWW socument). Available from Scholar
Wilder, J. M., Vongraven, D., Atwood, T., et al. (2017). Polar bear attacks on humans: implications of a changing climate. Wildlife Society Bulletin 41: 537547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wilson, E. O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Windler, A. (2014). Views towards the sun bear and frames on the human–sun bear conflict of local people in West Sumatra, Indonesia. Wageningen: Forest and Nature Conservation, Wageningen University & Research.Google Scholar
Yamazaki, K. (2004). Recent bear–human conflicts in Japan. International Bear News 13: 1617.Google Scholar
Yamazaki, K. (2010). Ursus thibetanus. In: Ohdachi, S. D., Ishibashi, Y., Iwasa, M. A., Fukui, D. & Saitoh, T. (Eds.), The wild mammals of Japan (pp. 243245). Kyoto: Shoukado Book Seller.Google ScholarPubMed
Yamazaki, K. (2017). Consecutive fatal attacks by Asiatic black bear on humans in Northern Japan. International Bear News 26: 1617.Google Scholar
Yamazaki, K. & Sato, Y. (2014). Country-wide range mapping of Asiatic black bears reveals increasing range in Japan. International Bear News 23: 1819.Google Scholar
Yamazaki, K., Furubayashi, K., Kasai, S., et al. (2008). A preliminary evaluation of activity-sensing GPS collars for estimating daily activity patterns of Japanese black bears. Ursus 19: 154161.Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats