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Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  471 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Of the animals in North America, none commands such dread, awe, and interest as the bear. Creatures that fear little, bears compete for survival with the only other animals that can threaten their existence: Humans. Bear Attacks is a thorough and unflinching study of attacks made on humans. This is the sometimes horrific, yet always instructive, story of Bear and Human, wr ...more
Paperback, Revised, 304 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Lyons Press (first published May 1st 1988)
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Sep 02, 2015 rated it liked it
First of all, this is not a gory account of bear attacks, with bloody or scary stories about people being eaten by bears. It is a study of why attacks happen (mostly due to human misbehavior). There are statistics, and details, and instructions on how to be safe around bears, and it was very interesting to know some of these things, because you just never know when you might be face to face with a bear.

On the other hand, these instructions are just a tad ambiguous. Apparently, if faced with a bl
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Herrero knows his stuff. After moving to Kalispell,MT (just outside Glacier National Park) I decided that I'd better learn more about grizzlies as I knew I'd occasionally run in to them while fishing or hiking in the area. I read several books on grizzlies and this was THE MOST HELPFUL of them all. After giving advice on how to act when running in to a mother bear with cubs, or a bear eating carrion, or a number of other various situations Herrero ultimately states that bears are still wild anim ...more
Jun 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone hiking in bear country
What I mainly learned from this book was that you shouldn't let your wife read books like this if you ever hope to take them backpacking. Good gory descriptions of maulings.
Jun 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: hiking, canada
YES! This book contains a quote from the 19th century which is quite possibly the best thing I've ever read:

"Hence the peculiar charm of a fight with a grizzly! If you kill your bear, it is a triumph worth enjoying; if you get killed yourself, some of the newspapers will give you a friendly notice; if you get crippled for life, you carry about you a patent of courage which may be useful in case you go into politics. Besides, it has its effect upon the ladies. A "chawed" man is very much admired
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have never been attacked by a bear, so I don't know how useful is the author's advice. BUT I can tell you it almost scared me out of my wits. The lengthy descriptions of mauling and dismembering will stay in my mind forever. They were worse than anything Stephen King could dream up.

The author provides scrupulous detail on every documented attack. But with every statistical probability, every suggested course of action, he then qualifies by saying: "Remember, bears are unpredictable and there a
Akira Watts
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have not been attacked by a bear since finishing this book.
Aug 07, 2007 marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm dying to read this as Bill Bryson becomes obssessed with the book as he readies himself to walk the AT.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best book about bears I’ve ever read.
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
OK, so the key to surviving a bear attack is to figure out if the bear is trying to eat you or not.

If the bear is NOT trying to eat you, you're just supposed to lie there and let it lightly gnaw on you or sit on you or whatever not-eating-you activity the bear has in mind.

If the bear IS trying to eat you, you have to fight back because otherwise you'll totally get eaten, yo. (Whether fighting back will help depends on how lazy your bear is).

The million-dollar question, of course, is how do you t
Stephan van der Linde
I've been told this book is THE book about bears.
The most other books about bears refer to this one.

It contains a lot of gruesome encounters between human beings and bears. All is based on true events.
It's not just gruesome, but also very lugubrious and really horrific stories.

The bear itself is not depict as bad, because all these are accidents and could be prevent.

Therefore this book describes the nature of bears (black bears, grizzlys etc). Their nature and what to do when you see one in th
Feb 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Grizzly bears terrify me. It doesn't matter that I've never been, afaik, near a Grizzly in the wild, or that I live in a place where the great bear is now extinct. I had a nightmare when I was a kid that shook me up so bad I still remember it.

In the dream, my family was trapped on a ship that had a sort of carnival on board. One of the carnival animals, who all were roaming about the ship scaring everybody half to death, was a giant Grizzly. The bear caught up with my family and ripped my littl
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book even more attentively this time, as I'll be going into black bear territory in a week. Clearly Herrero has a deep respect and affection for bears, as we all should.
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lisa Roberts
I read the 1985 version of this book which I stumbled across in a used book store last month. I'm interested in reading a more current version to see what new discoveries have been made in the 27 years that have passed since then, but I believe even this older copy of the book provides a great deal of useful information for anyone who expects to encounter bears or wants to learn more about them.

The author spent a great deal of time studying bears, both black and grizzly, prior to writing this bo
Mary Havens
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Want to know about bears? Read this book!

It's broken down by type (Grizzly and then Black Bear) and then general bear behavior/management. It is also chock full of original research, beautiful citations, and references! It's fascinating, really, because so much of these attacks probably would have been prevented if people had respected the bears and their habitat enough to not bring in their yummy garbage. (This goes for all humans, not just the victims. Most of the victims were not violators of
Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hikers, hunters, backpackers, wildlife workers, people who live near bears
This is a no-nonsense book from perhaps the most knowledgeable person alive regarding North American Bears. This book is not for the faint-of-heart as it describes in gruesome detail bear attacks (both fatal and non-fatal).

Mr. Herrero has been called in more often than not to help assess the causes of attacks caused by bears in both Canada and the US. He offers crucial advice for dealing with deadly situations, however even more important, he offers advice that can help people in the wild avoid
Apr 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hikers and other people concerned about the mighty grizzly
Though I am terrified of coming home and finding a grizzly bear in my apartment, the odds of me ever encountering and being mauled by a bear are about zero percent. Though I consider Herrero's research and tips essential survival knowledge (it can't be impossible that a formidable bear will enter my urban area, scale my apartment complex wall, break through the patio door and wait for me to get home from work), I read Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance mainly for mauling anecdotes. Most pe ...more
Nancy Lewis
The first part of the book is one harrowing tale after another of bear maulings - by grizzly and black bears alike. I stayed up late several nights in a row reading the detailed accounts.

The second part is about bear behavior and agency management recommendations, which seem to be just as relevant now as they were in 1983 when Yellowstone implemented the bear management policy that is still followed today.

So, how do you avoid a bear encounter? Don't go outside.
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Does anyone else think it strange/morbid/disturbing that I stayed up all night reading accounts of people getting attacked by bears? Everyone wants to learn more about bear attacks whilst camping at Glacier National Park (where more than half of all recorded bear attacks have taken place), right? Right? The bad news is I completely freaked myself out and drove my fellow campers crazy with bear attack trivia. The good news? I know EXACTLY what to do the next time I run into a bear! :)
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you don't want to get killed by a grizzly or a black bear, you should read this.
Becky S
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This contains research based, statistical information on bear attacks going back 100 years, and it's interesting. The book isn't quite as useful for avoiding an actual attack. Herrero gives conflicting information- sometimes black bears are more likely to attack than grizzlies, except when grizzlies are more likely to. Sometimes bears with their cubs will run, except when they charge. Sometimes bears run from gunshot, but not always. Climbing a tree can be useful, but be sure to get up high enou ...more
Jessica Chittester
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn’t necessarily read this book. I listen to it as an audiobook. However I got just as much stimulation as if it was a paper back in my hands. I wasn’t overly fond of the narrator – I thought that he was a little monotone and a bit bland. However, this was a very interesting and scientific read.
I felt that parts of this book were a bit long-winded; there were a lot of numbers and scientific data That could get a little confusing at times. However, I believe that this is a very wonderful boo
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Truly, if you’re looking for a bit of a horror read while also learning a few things about bears (especially grizzlies), read this book. I’ve had Yellowstone, Glacier Park, and Yosemite on my bucket list for a long time. After reading this, I feel that if I don’t make it to these parks, it’ll be ok.

This book is a read for anyone who hikes, camps, hunts, etc.- there is bound to be something in here that will be useful to you whether you’re seasoned, or an amateur in any of these activities.

Brian Rogers
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is probably one of the most scientific/data-driven guides out there. The author dedicated his life to studying the behavior of bears and has gone through all the data available and has interviewed survivors to make the best recommendations for what to do. He also gives detailed accounts for what different people did in different situations and what the results were. It can be gruesome but will help give a better idea of what to do when in bear country.

Unfortunately because not every human
David Ward
Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance by Stephen Herrero (Lyons Press 1985) (599.784) (3418). Author Stephen Herrero knows his subject matter well enough to have survived years of fieldwork with the bears of North America. The title notwithstanding, there is nothing salacious about this volume. The information shared in recounting attacks serves to demonstrate cause and effect in bear country.

My rating: 7/10, finished 02/01/20 (3418). I bought a used PB copy in like-new condition from McKay's

Calvin Fletcher
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I finished this book loving bears more than I did before I started, yet with a greater appreciation of the danger that they can pose to human beings. Sadly, in most bear attacks, the people were attacked not because of anything inherently wrong with their actions but because the bear had been beneficiary to a bunch of idiots beforehand leaving their garbage out or not tying up a bear bag. For me it was a good reminder that indeed actions do have consequences, and in some cases, the consequences ...more
Olivier Cruchant
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wildlife
a must-read for wildlife enthusiasts and people hiking in bear country. Good balance of content between black and brown/grizzly bear. It is a bit old though (1980?) so many recent yet interesting stories are not featured (2011 Yellowstone deaths, Treadwell experiences, more years of bear spray tests, etc)
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From what I understand, this is the definitive work on bear attacks. Really very interesting approach that the author takes in cataloging modern US bear attacks, recounting the encounters, and then providing an explanation for the behavior. Fascinating stuff for the casual reader, but particularly applicable for backcountry hikers that may end up encountering bears in their travels.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a thorough, professional and well informed discussion of the cause and avoidance of bear attacks in America/Canada. The prose is clear, concise and informative, the science is good with caveats clearly explained and the advice is helpful. Recommended.
Theresa Moir
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was hoping for more recent cases as most of the stories are quite old so I feel the data might be off, but the lessons and strategies are very helpful. This book has made my fear and dread turn into excitement and fascination!
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I learned A LOT from this book about black and brown bears. I'm an avid hiker and need to know how to stay safe while on the trail. Bear Attacks helped me to understand bear behavior as well as what to do if I encounter one.
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From Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance, "Stephen Herrero is Professor of Environmental Science and Biology at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is recognized throughout the world as a leading authority on bear ecology, behavior and attacks."

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