Ways to Die in the Wild: Bears

There are countless ways to meet your end in the great outdoors. These are ten of the most unpleasant, ignominious, and terrifying ways to go.

black bear attack azougar

   Photo: visceralimage/Shutterstock.com

It’s another serene evening in the Sierra Nevada as you watch the sun set into the granite realms surrounding your cabin’s porch. The distant rumble of thunder seems out of place until you look to your left and see a massive black bear charging toward you with a thread of drool hanging from its mouth.

You know fatal black bear attacks are extremely rare—they kill an average of two people per year—so you hesitate. But this is a lone male, hungry, and suffering from food stress*. He smells the trash outside your cabin, and now he's hunting you.

You leap up and run inside to what you assume is the safety of the log cabin. A minute later the animal smashes through the window, a determined scowl on its ugly mug. Banging pots and pans together to no avail, you retreat to the back room. Ordinarily, the bear would flee. But today, he follows. 

It hits you in the shoulder with a powerful shot, sending you to the floor. Holding you down with its paws, the bruin begins scalping you with its front teeth. You hear it chipping away at your skull as pain sets your nerves on fire. In a desperate attempt to fight the animal off, you roll over on to your back—exposing your throat. The bear bites down.  

The next day wildlife authorities shoot the animal as it attempts to break into another house. They find human remains in its stomach. 

*Fatal black bear attacks are incredibly rare, but they do happen. A 2011 study found that male bears commit 92 percent of the attacks and are often influenced by a lack of food and the availability of human food or garbage.

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