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Do Bears Eat Humans? (Answered)

Bears can appear both cuddly and frightening. They resemble stuffed animals that you can hold and snuggly with, but have big sharp teeth and thick claws that can tear through things with ease. It’s this ferocious appearance that has led to myths of bears hunting humans. But do bears eat humans, or are the stories about man-eating bears completely false?

Bears don’t typically eat humans, nor do they normally hunt them. The truth is, most bear attacks are not fatal and do not occur because the bear is trying to have us as their next meal. On average, there are about 40 bear attacks per year and out of that percentage, around 14% are fatal. If bears were really hunting and eating humans, that number would be much higher.

Do Bears Eat Humans?

The simple answer is no, bears typically don’t eat humans. While it is true that bears are omnivores and do eat meat, they try to stay away from humans. Humans are not a typical part of a bear’s diet, so they don’t necessarily see us as a desirable food source. Like with most other meat-eating animals that are large enough to do so, however, a bear may eat a human in a desperate act of starvation.

That doesn’t mean you should go up to a wild bear and tempt it. Even if they don’t normally eat humans, they will still attack if they feel threatened. That is why it is best to keep your distance if you come across a bear.

Why Would Bears Attack Humans?

Bears do not seek out humans to attack and eat. Far from it. Bears would much rather you stay away from them and they stay away from you. Bear attacks generally occur to protect their cubs, their space, or their food. Bears are often frightened by humans, but won’t give it a second thought to protect the things that are important to them.

According to Lynn Rogers, who is a research scientist for the Wildlife Research Institute and the founder of the North American Bear Center, a “disproportionate number” of attacks by bears on humans are related to dogs.

Dogs are curious creatures and will often try to get a better sniff of a bear or try to chase the bear away. This can cause the bear to feel threatened and, in turn, fight back against the dog.

As owners, we want to save our beloved pet and will try to intervene and protect our pooch. This then leads to the bear attacking you as well.

What Should I Do If A Bear Attacks My Dog?

If a bear does attack your dog or your dog comes running back to you for protection and the bear is right behind, you can better defend yourself with a big stick or pepper spray.

In most cases, hitting the bear over the head with a large stick or spraying it with pepper spray will make the bear retreat. Another option is to bang pots and pans or make other loud noises to scare the bear away.

What Kind Of Bears Eat Humans?

Even though humans are not the primary source of food for bears, the grizzly bear and polar bear are the two species that are more likely to hunt humans and eat them. Thankfully, fatal bear attacks are not a common occurrence, and the myth of a true man-eating bear just doesn’t exist.

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Grizzly bears

In 2017, researchers studying polar bear attacks looked at the 73 predatory attacks that occurred over 144 years and found that most of the attacks were done by starving young adult bears. This just goes to show you that even polar bears don’t normally hunt humans, except for extreme cases.

Do Bears Like The Taste of Humans?

Bears don’t attack because they like the taste of humans. This is just one of the many myths that have followed bears around for ages. What typically happens is that humans get too close to bears, whether it be by entering into their territory or the act of over development pushing the bears out, and it triggers their defense response.

It is also not uncommon for bears to get used to humans, such as at parks and camp sites where people regularly feed bears even when they are told not to.

This causes the bears to become too accustomed to people, which can increase the chance of the bear starting a predatory attack that is unusual for wild bears.

Officials and bear experts recommend humans maintain their wariness of bears, and bears keep being fearful of humans. This will help protect both the lives of humans and the bears.

What Should I Do If A Bear Attacks?

Even though bear attacks are not common, it is best to err on the side of caution and familiarize yourself with what to do if a bear attacks.

When a bear is angry, they will charge either with a bluff charge or an aggressive charge. Bluff charges are more common and are meant to intimidate or scare you.

They will keep their head and ears up and facing forward, but will puff itself up to look larger. The bear may bound towards you with its front paws, but then stops short and moves to one side.

Do not run during a bluff charge as this can lead to an attack. Instead, stand your ground but be prepared to protect yourself if the charge becomes aggressive. In most cases, the bear will typically retreat after the bluff charge.

Aggressive charges are extremely dangerous and the bear will clack their teeth or yawn. They will also pound the ground with their front paws while huffing. The bear will have its head down and ears pointed backwards.

Different types of bears

How to handle a bear attack will depend on the type of bear. According to the National Park Service, if a black bear attacks you, fight back with anything you can get your hands on. A large stick, rocks, whatever you can grab. Directly hit and kick the bear in its face to defend yourself and fight the bear off.

If you are being attacked by a grizzly bear or brown bear, however, you shouldn’t fight back and should instead play dead. Make sure to cover your neck and head with your hands and arms while lying flat on your stomach and your legs spread apart. Try to stay as still as possible and avoid making any noise.


Despite all the myths surrounding bears, the truth is, they don’t normally attack humans. Bears don’t typically see humans as a food source, although young adult bears that are starving may hunt and attack.

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Thankfully, bear attacks are not a common occurrence. In most cases, you can avoid a potential bear attack by keeping your distance from bears and carrying some form of protection, such as bear spray, if you are entering an area where bears are known to frequent.