Bear attacks

No, nobody was attacked by a bear, but Stephen Herrero made the New York Times where there is a very informative video interview with him in which he summarizes his research. Herrero is a professor emeritus of environmental design (?) at the University of Calgary and author of one of my favorite non-fiction books: Bear Attacks.

In Bear Attacks, Herrero offers an in depth analysis of virtually every known grizzly and black bear attack in North America since the late 1800s. His main finding, which may be counterintuitive, is that grizzlies attack primarily in defense while black bears attack primarily as predators. This leads Herrero to offer the following advice: when attacked by a black bear, fight for your life. When attacked by a grizzly bear, play dead.

One particular attack stands out vividly in the book. Herrero discusses the case of a woman who was working alone in Alaska and was attacked by a black bear. She thought that the proper response was to play dead. Unfortunately, this is the proper response when attacked by a grizzly, an attack that is meant to neutralize a threat. The black bear proceeded to consume most of her legs and arms over the course of hours while she somehow managed to play dead the entire time. Her coworkers eventually returned in a helicopter and scared the bear off. All of her limbs had to be amputated.

Have fun next time your fishing alone in bear country. And read Bear Attacks. It will scare the shit out of you, but it will also make you smarter in bear country.