Questions for Alaskans
Are bears dangerous?
Are bears dangerous? Not when they’re walking the other way!
Every day in the tour booth, tourists tell us about their fear of bears. Fear of bears is understandable because bears are big and scary. They are also depicted as terrible killers in movies and television so people are afraid of them. Make no mistake about it, getting mauled or killed by a bear would totally suck. However, today we are going to take an in-depth look at the question, “Are bears dangerous?”
What is danger?
The dictionary defines danger as “the possibility of suffering harm or injury.” Suffering harm is no fun. Death is even less fun. However, when you think about it, a lot of things are dangerous. Even sleeping can be dangerous. We can already assume that bears are dangerous because everything is dangerous but let’s find out how dangerous they really are.
Bears certainly look dangerous
Let’s just get obvious facts out of the way. Bears look super dangerous. They are giant apex predators with razor-sharp death claws and a mouth that will eat you. They are often cranky and usually quite unpredictable. Seeing a bear up close can give you nightmares. In Alaska, there is no animal more scary looking than a bear. That includes black bears, grizzly bears, and polar bears.
What do the statistics say?
Since the year 2000, there have been 48 bear attack fatalities in North America. Of those, 10 people were killed by bears in Alaska. The majority of the attacks were black bears although brown bears weren’t too far behind.
By way of comparison, there are 6 million auto accidents a year in the United States. Of those, 37,000 people are killed and 2.35 million are injured or disabled. Interestingly, most people hope in their car and drive without giving it a second thought. Those same people come to Alaska and are suddenly scared about a bear attack. That just doesn’t make sense to me.
Here is another fun statistic – 120,000 people die from random household accidents every year in the United States. That means you’re significantly more likely to die getting into your shower, eating a piece of toast, or using the toilet than you are from a bear attack.
Other things that are more dangerous than bears include:
- Eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Being a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles
- Tying your shoes
- Getting married
- Not exercising
So, are bears dangerous?
If you walk around in bear country with a salmon strapped to your back and walk up to a bear and slap it on the behind, you could certainly say that bears are dangerous. However, for most people, bears are nothing more than a wild animal that you will rarely see, much less encounter.
The best way to avoid a bear attack is to live your life without worrying about a bear attack. If you like to hike and fish in bear country, avoid getting close to bears. If you are attacked by a bear, calm your mind by mentally reviewing the aforementioned statistics and consider yourself lucky that you didn’t die from tripping over a Lego.