Bear attacks, much like shark attacks, are extremely rare events that capture our imagination like few other dangerous wildlife encounters. You would think that they are common occurrences in areas where bears are present due to the nonstop news coverage that attacks receive. The truth is, that about 4 people die every year due to bear attacks and the total number of deaths since 1900 due to bears is less than 200 in North America. In our age of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, the media has discovered that bear attack stories sell and get clicks. With all of the negative coverage of bears, it is more important than ever to have an accurate source of information about why they occur, the different types of attacks, and how to survive them.
Enter Dr. Stephen Herrero. Professor Emeritus of Ecology at the University of Calgary, Dr. Herrero has been studying bear attacks for over five decades. He is the man who literally wrote the book on bear attacks. By working with fish and wildlife agencies, studying historical records, and doing field research, he has put together the most comprehensive study ever done on bear attacks. As the world’s foremost researcher on bear attacks, Dr. Herrero has testified in numerous court cases involving bear attacks and has often been the first person called to investigate a scene when they occur.
First published in 1985, Bear Attacks: Their Causes And Avoidance is required reading for anyone who wants to learn more about the subject. Unlike many academic texts, the book reads more like a non-fiction bestseller. It features case studies and first-hand accounts of every documented bear attack since 1900. Rather than just present lurid details of the attacks (the details are there), the book and its author uses the data to interpret trends and predict future attacks. Many of the attacks share commonalities that Dr. Herrero outlines to educate and prevent future attacks.
Bear Attacks, by Stephen Herrero, is by far one of my favorite books on the subject of bears. In just a few hundred pages of reading, I have learned more about bear attacks and bear safety than from everything else I have read on the subject combined. It dispels myths, provides tips to avoid bears in the first place, and outlines how to survive an attack. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book for anyone interested in bears or anyone who spends any amount of time recreating or living in bear country.