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Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  400 ratings  ·  57 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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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  400 ratings  ·  57 reviews


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Miki
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
...more
Jason
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
Mark
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.
Jeff
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
...more
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
...more
Elinor
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
...more
Ariel
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.
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.
Nancy Lewis
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bears, canada, montana
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.
Holly
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
...more
Carmen
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.
Tania
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
...more
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
...more
Sarah
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
...more
Doris
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
...more
Jessica
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
Stacey
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! :)
Barry
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.
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
...more
Josh
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.
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)
KP
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.
Josh Liller
Jan 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals
I learned of this book nearly a decade ago when I read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. I finally decided to get it off my To Read shelf. This is a thoughtful, scholarly study by a bear expert on what causes attacks by black bears and brown/grizzly bears.

Although the style of writing is reflective of the scholarly nature, this book mostly avoids being dry and dull like many academic works. It's not published by a university press so it would see intended for a more general audience while still
...more
Dennis Robbins
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book about the same time there was a Grizzly caused death in Yellowstone. In 143 years of park history there have now been (as of August 2015) 8 deaths. At least 6 of them might have been prevented if the victim were carrying bear spray. Within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem there have been 13 human fatalities, 9 occurred to solo hikers. The evidence suggests that when in Grizzly country carry spray and don't hike alone. But also read this book. It's rich with stories of bear- ...more
Mike Spinak
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you've read other books about bears, and then read this one, you'll recognize the difference readily. Herrero is far more knowledgeable. His interpretations of events are much more plausible. His advice is much more sensible.

If you live or work or play regularly in bear country, read this book. The knowledge and advice may be critical, and there's no better source.

Lastly, I must note that there are parts of the book - a lot of them - which are creepy and gruesome. Be forewarned about that.
Alexis
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very understandable and informative.

I really appreciate that it shows you the specific data the author is basing his conclusions on. It gives his explanations and suggestions authority but also supports his point that rules are not hard and fast and that all bears are different and not entirely predictable.

Also, embarrassingly, I really didn't know anything about the difference between black bears and grizzlies.
Jody
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was certainly informative! One of the outstanding tidbits is that a grizzly can eat 200,000 berries a day!

This book covers pretty much everything whether Grizzly or Black. There are some honest and detailed pieces, but I didn't mind reading those--bear attacks really happen, so let's not water those down.

Basically, it all comes down to this: bears need upwards of 20,000 calories a day. Don't mess!
Al Maki
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like avalanches, grizzly bears are a low probability risk for anybody hiking in the Canadian Rockies or Montana. I was going to say "off the main paths" but the last time I saw one was in a parking lot with about 50 cars. Herrero's book provides a good perspective on them. The book has been around for a while but grizzlies haven't changed since it was published.
Dan Baxter
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on bear attacks. If there is one book on how to interact with bears in the wild this is your book. I wish I would have read this before I was a backpacking guide because I would not have acted like such an idiot around bears in the wild like I did. I was lucky they did not attack me. Herrero is the foremost expert on bears so anything by him is gold.
Kennedy
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
So maybe I was being overly cautious by reading this cover-to-cover before a casual camping trip to Yellowstone, but it ended up being a truly fascinating book (and luckily I didn't have to employ any of the safety techniques I learned!). A very accessible and complete guide to bears, bear attacks, and ways to avoid interactions.
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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."