The Mansfield News Journal has an interesting article up about the rise of black bear attacks across the United States.
In the last two decades, black bear attacks on humans, and fatal attacks in particular, have been on the rise. Since 2000, there have been documented 25 fatal attacks on humans, and a good many more that caused injury.
Numbers alone might cause part of the problem. There are about 54,000 grizzly bears in the world, and about 900,000 black bears, a number that’s growing steadily.
“There are more bears being harvested today between Pennsylvania and Georgia, than even existed in the 1970s,” one biologist noted.
The 900,000 figure is about right for black bears from various surveys I have read in the last few years but that last quote regarding the harvest in Pennsylvania and Georgia I will have to dig into a little. I know for example Florida’s numbers have increased tenfold from 300 to 3,000 in that timeframe but I’m not convinced on the above quote.
What I am convinced of is that black bear attacks are different from grizzly or brown bear maulings. Whereas those species will often attack because of intrusion of domain, blacks almost exclusively attack with the desire to eat you.
Does that mean black bears are more dangerous?
There are at least tenfold more blacks than grizzlies and browns and the numbers are increasing so a rise in attacks is predictable. If there were 900,000 grizzlies roaming around there would be large numbers of bear attacks in comparison to what the blacks are doing.
It is however important to learn the proper steps to dealing with black bears if you go into their habitat. Whereas you should play dead for browns and grizzlies, you should fight black bears. We’ll have more on black bears later this week but if you would like to learn more about bear safety click here.