There are few things in life as terrifying as being attacked by a big, angry bear. Luckily, most of us will go through life without having to worry about this possibility. Bears are not running wild in big cities; you really have to get out in the sticks to cross their paths. For people living in more remote areas, however, bear sightings are a bigger reality. While fatal bear attacks are extremely rare, there have been numerous attacks reported in the past century. Bears tend to attack only when they are exercising their territorial or protective rights. Otherwise, they tend to be pretty gentle creatures, believe it or not!
Most attacks have involved unlucky campers, hikers or zoo-keepers. These categories of people are clearly at a higher risk, as they are putting themselves straight in bear territory. The North American areas around Alaska, Northern and Western Canada and areas in the Rocky Mountains in the United States are the most bear-centric. Despite knowing their regular territory, sometimes you cannot avoid a head-on collision with a bear. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can result in some pretty serious repercussions. Some savage attacks have actually been caught on camera, whether by the attacked, or by an unlucky witness to the attack. Some of these photos are completely unbelievable, and not for the faint of heart. Surviving a bear attack is definitely not something that everyone gets to brag about. Some were less lucky, and didn’t survive their attacks. Here are 15 Savage Bear Attacks Caught on Camera.
15 Forest Ranger Grizzly Attack, 1987
In 1987, a grizzly bear relocation to the Montana wilderness had some serious and unexpected results. Gamekeeper Lou Kis was riding in the back of a truck that held the grizzly in a trap. When the truck stopped, Kis opened the trap to let the bear loose. He signalled to the driver to drive away, but at the same moment, the bear jumped back onto the truck, forcing the trap, and Kis to the ground. Photographer Richard Smith snapped photos of the entire attack, which, luckily only resulted in a fractured leg and cut on his leg. The bear could’ve killed him, but Kis had a handgun with him, and fatally shot the bear to protect himself from a more grim outcome. Good thing medical teams were close by to administer first aid and get the keeper to a hospital.
14 Brown Bear Attacks Man in Bern, Switzerland, 2009
A mentally handicapped man was the victim of a brutal brown bear attack in Switzerland’s capital city of Bern, in 2009. The city is known for its “Bern bears”, a cluster of brown bears who roam in a secured enclosure at the foot of the Aare river. Thousands of tourists flock to the picturesque city every year to visit the bears. Unfortunately, this unnamed gentleman made a pretty bad decision that morning in 2009. Perched on a ledge looking down at the bears for almost 20 minutes, the man finally jumped into the enclosure. Finn, the 4-year-old bear, quickly realized that he had a guest in his lair. He pounced on the man and bit him several times before authorities could intervene and shoot the animal. The man was taken to hospital where he was treated for severe head and arm wounds. The bear, who was shot once by the zookeepers to stabilize him, was also treated and made a full recovery. The Swiss were more sympathetic to the bear’s wellbeing, sending pots of honey and well wishes for a speedy recovery.
13 Polar Bear Attacks Woman at Anchorage, Alaska Zoo, 1994
In 1994, Kathryn Warburton, a 29-year-old Australian tourist, got more than she bargained for while visiting the Anchorage Zoo. Trying to get a great close-up photo of Binky the polar bear, Warburton climbed the fence bordering the bear’s enclosure. The bear quickly charged towards her and got hold of her left thigh, which he bit through the fence while trying to pull her into the enclosure. Luckily, witnesses fought the bear off with tree branches and managed to free Warburton. She was lucky to escape with only a broken leg and some pretty severe bites. The bear narrowly escaped piercing her femoral artery, which would have very likely led to Warburton’s death. She later blamed herself for the accident, saying that it was the “stupidest thing she had ever done”. We agree, but are also glad that she walked away from this close call!
12 Woman Mauled By Polar Bear At Berlin Zoo, 2009
For reasons unknown (at the time), a woman decided that it was a good idea to jump into the polar bear enclosure at the Berlin Zoo, one April morning in 2009. The 32-year-old woman climbed over the enclosure’s fence and hopped into the water, where four massive polar bears were waiting to be fed. Despite the zookeepers’ efforts to distract the polar bears, the woman was bitten several times by one of the older bears in the gang. Luckily, the zoo staff acted quickly and were able to pull her out of the danger zone using a rope. While she was in intensive care being treated for her wounds, the story emerged that she was a depressed teacher who had recently lost her job. Despair had set in and she jumped into the enclosure in a moment of weakness. The zoo officials have since pressed charges against her for endangering herself, the animals and staff members. The polar bear who bit her was not killed.
11 Russian Bear Attacks Woman in Forest, 2015
A woman suffered critical injuries after being attacked by a brown bear in the forest near Tynda, in the South-Eastern region of Amur, Russia. Post office worker Natalya Pasternak, 55, was gathering wood when the bear emerged and attacked her. She suffered serious injuries, and was lucky to have been accompanied by another woman, who was able to run free and call the authorities. Wildlife experts arrived on the scene and managed to shoot the female bear dead. Pasternak had been buried under leaves by the bear, who was likely planning on eating her shortly afterwards. Yikes! Luckily, Pasternak made a full recovery from her severe injuries. An influx in bear attacks in Russia in recent years has been linked to nets being cast to capture salmon. The fish subsequently end up trapped in one area, where the bears cannot access them for feeding. Hungry bears make angry, aggressive bears, unfortunately!
10 Bear Attacks Live on Russian TV, 2016
A presenter on live Russian TV got quite the scare while filming a segment about, ironically, the dangers of wild animals. On December 27, 2016, Bonya the Bear was a guest on the TV Show Pro Lubov. The bear was muzzled, and wearing a very awful red tutu at the time of the attack. Based on the videos of the attack, it looks like the reporter startled the bear by sneaking up behind her, resulting in her getting pulled to the ground. It looks like the bear grabbed hold of her belt, or some sort of sash, and the reporter walked away with no injuries. She seems to have taken responsibility for her actions; she apologized to the trainer (and the bear!) for sneaking up without proper notice. Good thing the bear was muzzled and on the smaller side! This could’ve ended badly.
9 Grizzly Bear Attacks and Kills Trainer, 2008
In April 2008, a grizzly bear that was considered “obedient” savagely attacked and killed his trainer, 39-year-old Stephan Miller, in California. The bear, who had previously appeared in films and on National Geographic and Discovery Channel specials, was 5 years old and close to 8 feet tall, standing up. Rocky weighed over 700 pounds, and had a history of being very receptive to human commands. This was his first aggressive offense, and unfortunately, took place at a locale where many of the trainers had 25 years or more experience working with wild animals. Sadly, Stephan Miller didn’t stand much of a chance against his wild aggressor. He was bit in the neck and succumbed to his wounds less than 25 minutes after the altercation took place.
8 Grizzly Kills Trainer During Enclosure Cleaning in Montana, 2012
Another tragedy struck when 24-year-old trainer Benjamin Cloutier was found dead in the grizzly enclosure at the Animals of Montana center. The victim had worked at the center for over four years and was fully trained on all of the safety protocols. Coworkers believed that he must’ve hit his head, or fallen into the enclose accidentally, which ultimately led to the grizzlies attacking him. The center, which houses wild animals for photography shoots and films, was home to the famous “Trio of Grizzly Bears”, Adam, Griz and Yosemite. Griz was put down when the authorities arrived in order to retrieve Benjamin’s body. The center made press releases about the shock and sadness that they were experiencing after losing Benjamin and Griz. This seems to have been a tragic accident that resulted in two untimely deaths.
7 Fatal Bear Attack on Forest Ranger in Chhattisgarh, India, 2015
The heavily forested Indian province of Chhattisgarh was the location of a deadly bear attack, caught on camera, in late 2014. According to reports, the female wild bear had found her way into a local village and, after causing massive destruction to huts and homes in the area, killed a local. When the forest guards were called in to investigate and subdue the animal, one of the guards was savagely attacked and fatally injured. The attack, which was captured on one of the other guards’ cell phones, led locals to believe that the bear might’ve been suffering from mental illness. Her level of aggression was uncommon, even for bears of the area. A second team of officials were dispatched to the scene, and the bear was subsequently shot dead to avoid any additional trouble.
6 Hunter Attacked Twice by Same Bear in Montana, 2016
Todd Orr, a Montana hunter, had not one but two brushes with death, when the same bear attacked him twice in a span of minutes in the Madison County. The 50-year-old was hiking and hunting for elk, when a bear, with her two young cubs trailing along, pounced on Orr. Before the momma bear was able to make contact, Orr was able to spray a bear repellant in her direction, but that did little to slow the attack. She made contact with Orr’s neck, and continued to bite him over and over when he fell face first, to the ground. Still able to walk, Orr started the 3 mile trek back to his truck, when the bear came back for round 2. This time, she bit his arms, back and head; leaving Orr a bloody, damaged mess. Shockingly, he made it back to his truck and drove 17 miles to the nearest hospital where he was treated for his serious wounds. He lived to tell the tale, and share his bloody battle wounds on his Facebook page, as well.
5 Man Leaves Behind Photo of Bear on His Camera After Being Mauled in New Jersey, 2014
New Jersey is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking of savage bear attacks. Unfortunately, 22-year-old Darsh Patel was not able to escape death when he was attacked by a black bear while hiking in the forest with three of his friends. This was, in fact, the first time that anyone was killed by a bear in New Jersey. The four men bumped into a couple who were also hiking in the forest and alerted them to the bear. The couple were afraid and left the premises quickly, while the four men were curious about the bear and wanted to stick around to take photos. This idea proved fatal for Patel, whose camera was later recovered and included many photos of the large bear, each one showcasing the bear getting closer and closer. When the bear was within approximately 15 feet of the group, they all ran off in different directions. The bear followed Patel and fatally attacked him. The bear was later shot and killed by a police officer.
4 Bear Enthusiast Couple Die By Bear Attack in Alaska, 2003
Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were the most outdoorsy, bear-obsessed couple you could imagine. Treadwell had many experiences getting up close and personal with bears, playing with them and studying them was his passion. He gained a certain notoriety for his bizarre obsession, and even appeared on the Discovery Channel and Late Night With David Letterman. Sadly, a bear-watching and camping trip with his girlfriend Amie would turn tragic, for both of them. A large grizzly attacked, killed and ate Timothy, while Amie watched in horror. With nowhere to go, Amie was the next victim. When a helicopter meant to pick the couple up arrived, the couples’ remains were found and the bear was shot and killed. A video camera captured the last six minutes of the attack’s audio.
3 Couple Survive Brutal Calgary Attack, 2016
This menacing-looking grizzly was the culprit in a savage attack on a young Canadian couple in 2016. James and Lisa Hayworth were enjoying a leisurely afternoon by the Ghost River in the Waiparous area, near Calgary. Although the couple was aware that the area had bears, they never expected to come face to face with a mother grizzly. They had cans of bear spray with them, but the grizzly charged at them so quickly, they didn’t have time to react. Lisa, who was the more gravely injured of the two, was dragged several metres by the bear. The couple tried to escape by jumping into the river, but the bear followed them in and continued attacking. Very luckily, another group was close by and heard their screams for help. Coleman Blair drove down to the site of the attack and helped the couple get to safety.
2 Inuit Man Attacked By Polar Bear in Tent While Sleeping, 2003
Talk about a horrifying way to wake up! Kootoo Shaw was guiding a group of American caribou hunters in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, in 2003, when a near-fatal polar bear attack transpired. Asleep in his tent, Kootoo woke up to an aggressive male polar bear pulling him outside of his tent and attacking him with his claws and teeth. The only thing that saved Shaw’s life was another hunter who heard the commotion and got up with his rifle, killing the polar bear and liberating Shaw from the bear’s grasp. He was airlifted to a hospital where he was treated for some pretty serious wounds. He had broken ribs, scratches and bites covering his entire body, and was nearly scalped by the bear’s sharp teeth. It took Shaw close to a decade to recover, physically and emotionally, from his attack. When he went back to the scene of the attack in 2010, the ripped tent was still standing. Creepy.
1 Grizzly Attacks Two Canadian Hunters, 2015
Hunting can be a dangerous sport, even if you are armed with the best rifles money can buy. Two hunters were seriously injured when they were attacked by a grizzly bear, close to Fort Nelson, British Columbia, in 2015. The grizzly mom snuck up on the hunters, who were hunting sheep and oblivious to the bear behind them. One man was attacked immediately, and the second was attacked when he tried to intervene. Due to the remote location of the attack, the hunters were forced to spend an entire night camped out, waiting to be rescued. Luckily, the medical and police teams were aware that the men were out hunting, and soon after sent rescue helicopters. The men were seriously and critically injured, with lacerations to their heads and necks, but miraculously, made full recoveries.