Few animals command as much respect and arouse as much fear as bears.
Although fatal bear attacks are rare – there have only been about 180 deaths as a result of bear attacks in North America since the late 1700s – they never fail to shock their way. brutality.
The following list is not for the faint of heart, as it includes gory details about camping trips that have gone terribly wrong. Here are five of the deadliest bear attacks in history.
1. The night of the grizzly bears
On a tragic night in the summer of 1967, two young women were killed by grizzly bears in two separate attacks inside Montana’s majestic Glacier National Park.
The two women, both 19 years old and employed at two of the park’s lodges, embarked on overnight hiking trips with friends on August 12. Unbeknownst to them, grizzly bears had been spotted near lodges and campsites in the park for weeks, drawn to the food. left behind by reckless campers and even fed animals by tourists looking for photos.
In the 1960s, there were no bear-proof trash cans and few other security measures in US national parks to alert visitors to the presence of bears. The two victims, Julie Helgeson and Michele Koons, slept outside under a canopy of stars with no idea their campsites were about to be attacked by hungry and aggressive grizzly bears.
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Helgeson and a friend were woken up in the hours before dawn by a large grizzly bear sniffing their sleeping bags. They tried to play dead, but the grizzly squeezed its teeth and claws into both and dragged Helgeson away as she cried out for help. She was found several hours later by a search team, seriously injured and died before the rescue helicopter reached the hospital.
Koons and his friends had more warning, but a similar terrible result. Their camp was attacked by a grizzly bear while they were making dinner, but believing the animal was full, they headed to a beach to spend the night. The bear returned at 4.30am, and while his friends were able to climb nearby trees, Koons was brutally maimed – the bear bit his arm. She succumbed to her injuries before help arrived.
The horrific attacks, recounted in the 1969 book Grizzly bear night by Jack Olsen, led to widespread policy changes in US national parks to prevent animal feeding, remove garbage, and close campsites and trails where bear activity has been spotted.
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2. The attacks of the brown bear of Sankebetsu in 1915
The Japanese island of Hokkaido is home to a towering subspecies of brown bear called the ussuri which can grow larger than a grizzly. They can also be deadly aggressive, with 86 Ossuri attacks recorded on Hokkaido since 1962, including 33 dead.
But the worst bear attacks in Japanese history came during a heartbreaking week in December 1915, when a voracious bear woke up early from its hibernation and embarked on a murderous frenzy in the Sankebetsu border outpost which ended in seven deaths, mostly women and children. .
The hungry and restless bear, which weighed 750 pounds and was nine feet long, killed its victims by stalking them in their homes. Even when the city assembled an armed security team, it was unable to stop the almost daily attacks. The bear was repeatedly injured by gunfire, but kept coming back to claim more victims, including a pregnant woman and a baby.
Finally, professional bear hunters were called in to kill the bear. Traumatized, most of the villagers left Sankebetsu where today stands a shrine to commemorate the lives lost in this brutal and historic attack.
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3. The Gruesome Ending of “Grizzly Man”
Timothy Treadwell made a name for himself as a “friend” to the grizzly bears in Katmai National Park in Alaska, where he documented his surprisingly close relationship with these majestic and much feared animals.
For 13 years, Treadwell spent his springs and summers in the park, filming himself having playful interactions with wild grizzly bears, which he called by animal names like Crackers and Mr. Chocolate. Without any wildlife training or special expertise, Treadwell has dubbed himself a “protector” of grizzly bears and has been featured in magazines and television reports.
Tragically, his most famous appearance came in the 2005 documentary “Grizzly Man,” which chronicles how Treadwell’s obsession with grizzly bears came to a gruesome end. On October 5, 2003, Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were maimed and killed by a starving grizzly bear in their tent.
Chillingly, Treadwell rolled his camera, but since the lens cap was in place, only the audio survived. Filmmaker Werner Herzog, who directed the documentary, is one of the few people to have heard the disturbing recording. Once he did, Herzog suggested he be destroyed.
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4. Polar bear attacks British teenagers in Norway
In 2011, a group of British teenagers took part in a month-long Arctic adventure in Norway, where they hoped to spot a rare glimpse of a polar bear in this strikingly beautiful landscape. But no one expected such a terribly close encounter, which claimed the life of a 17-year-old boy with dreams of becoming a doctor.
Young Horatio Chapple was one of 80 students taking part in an expedition to Svalbard, Norway, organized by the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES). The teens were excited to explore the isolated wilderness, make new friends and study the effects of climate change on the arctic environment.
Polar bears are a known threat in Svalbard, but parents had been assured that all participants would be equipped with flares to scare away bears and that campsites would be surrounded by trigger wires that would set off small explosive mines. They were also told that an adult group leader would carry a gun.
However, when the expedition hit the ice, the team realized there weren’t enough flares to go around, and some of the trigger wires were not functioning properly. The pistol carried by Chapple’s group leader was an old rifle that adult leaders were not well trained to use.
According to fate, a hungry polar bear entered Chapple’s camp unnoticed while the teens were sleeping. He ripped open Chapple’s tent and bit the head of one of his companions before mutilating Chapple, who was dragged out of the tent and killed. In addition to Chapple’s death, four other members of the exploration party were seriously injured by the polar bear, including two adult leaders who struggled with the rifle before ultimately killing the desperate animal.
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5. Black bear crawl through a popular hot spring
Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada is a boreal forest paradise, where locals and tourists alike flock for a dip in its steaming hot pools. On August 14, 1997, Patti McConnell and her two children needed a break after a long road trip from Texas to Alaska and decided to stop by the hot springs.
McConnell and his 13-year-old son Kelly walked down the boardwalk and up some stairs to explore a less crowded pool. It was then that McConnell heard a rustle in the undergrowth and turned to look at a large black bear. She was barely able to scream at Kelly before the bear attacked her and began to viciously maim her.
Despite his size, Kelly kicked the bear in the face and beat it with a tree branch to try to save his mother, but the bear scratched his neck and lifted him up. in the air by its size before throwing it aside in a heap.
Hearing their screams, a bystander named Ray Kitchen rushed to the scene and also attempted to beat the black bear away from its two bloodied victims. The bear lit Kitchen and hit him with such force that the two went to fall through a railing and down a hill, where the bear fatally maimed Kitchen in the neck.
Another man was seriously injured before two other onlookers rushed in with shotguns and killed the rampaging animal. While McConnell also died of her injuries, her brave young boy survived and Kelly and Kitchen (posthumously) were awarded Medals of Courage from the Canadian government.