2021’s Fatal Bear Attacks in North America

Yellowstone Grizzly

For the year 2021, we have been publishing bear attacks in our newsletter and now see the problem is more serious than we thought.  We support the repeal of the the listing of Grizzly’s from the Endangered Species Act.  Although we also support a healthy population, there are limits.

Long-time Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Grizzly Bear Management Specialist Kevin Frey suspected the bear might still be at the scene of the attack. A back country guide and wildlife photographer had been mauled by a grizzly boar in the Baker’s Hole area of Yellowstone National Park and Frey, along with an inter agency crew of bear specialists, was there to investigate. Frey’s suspicion was confirmed when his black mouth cur Loki went on alert—and then suddenly, a huge grizzly came charging out of the brush right at them.

Why Are Grizzly Bears Still Listed Under the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48?

Grizzly bears are responsible for most fatal bear attacks—and dangerous encounters. In Alaska, grizzlies are not a protected species and are subject to state-managed hunts like other big game species. But in the Lower 48, grizzly bears have been listed as threatened by the USFWS since 1975. At that time, there were only between 700 and 800 bruins in the continental U.S. Today, that total has risen to over 2,000 animals. Naturally, the increased grizzly bear population coinciding with increased bear conflict has renewed calls for bear control, which would limit grizzly populations and potentially, conflict.

In the last 15 years, the USFWS twice tried to delist grizzlies in the Yellowstone area. Both attempts were overturned in federal court because of lawsuits from animal-rights and environmental organizations.

The Most Dangerous Time of Year for Bear Attacks is Only Just Beginning

Despite the high-profile bear conflicts that have taken place so far in 2021, the worst may still be yet to come. In autumn, bears enter what’s called hyperphagia, where they go after as much food as possible before going into hibernation. This makes for more active bears—and more encounters with humans. Unfortunately, this period also coincides directly with hunting season.

2021’s Fatal Bear Attacks in North America

April 17: West Yellowstone Grizzly Mauling
Backcountry guide and wildlife photographer Carl Mock was attacked and killed by a grizzly in the Baker’s Hole area of Yellowstone National Park. The old boar was defending a moose carcass. A recently released fatality report suggests that the bruin was likely especially aggressive because it had fought with another grizzly over the kill.

April 30: Black Bear Kills Colorado Woman in Surprising Attack
A woman died in a rare black bear attack in southwest Colorado. The 39-year-old woman was killed while walking her dogs. A 10-year-old sow was responsible for the killing. Human remains were found in the sow’s stomach, and in the stomach of one of the bear’s two yearlings. All three bears were euthanized following the attack. It was the third lethal bear attack in Colorado in the past 50 years.

May 4: Professor Killed by Female Grizzly in Alberta,
University of Calgary professor David Lertzman went missing after a trail run near Waiparous, Alberta. Local officials believe that a female grizzly chased Lertzman from behind and pushed him off a 980-foot embankment to his death. Despite a concerted search and trapping effort, the sow was never located.

May 25: Another Fatal Bear Attack in Alberta,
Just 25-miles away from where David Lertzman was killed, a female grizzly mauled a 68-year-old woman who had been walking on private property near her home near the town of Water Valley. A sow grizzly with worn teeth was put down by local authorities. DNA testing revealed that it was not the same bear that killed Lertzman.

July 6: Camper in Montana Dragged from Tent and Mauled by Grizzly
Leah Davis Lokan was ripped from her tent and killed by a grizzly bear in the middle of the night at a campsite in Ovando, Montana. That night, the bear also raided a local chicken coop. Officials used night vision technology to gun down a big grizzly boar later that week when it returned to another local chicken coop.

July 31: Black Bear Responsible for Alberta’s Third Bear-Related Fatality of the Year
A 26-year-old was mauled by a black bear sow in a remote region of Alberta in the province’s third deadly bear attack of the year. The victim was working for a helicopter company that transports tree planters into isolated regions for reforestation projects. Authorities quickly killed the adult female bear responsible for the attack. The sow did not have any cubs.

2021’s Notable Non-Fatal Bear Attacks

Grizzly on the chargeMay 18: Surveyor Mauled in Alaska
An Alaska surveyor survived a brutal bear attack in which the bear grabbed a quarter of the man’s face between its jaws. He bled profusely from his head alone in the bush for an hour as he waited for help.

May 31: Dog and Bear Conflict in California
A teenager in California sprang into action to save her dogs from a brown-phase black bear sow that wandered into her yard. She pushed the bear off the backyard wall.

June 16: Woman Chased By Bears and Gets Lost
A group of bears forced a woman off a popular hiking trail near Butte, Alaska. She couldn’t find the trail again and went missing for a day and a half before making her way back to a road.

June 16: Girl In Hammock Attacked by Bear
A black bear attacked a 16-year-old girl while she was sleeping in a hammock in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The bruin was quickly euthanized.

June 24: Bear Breaks into California Home
A California man shot a black bear that broke into his home in search of food.

June 27: Man Forced to Jump in River to Escape Bear Attack
An Alaska man’s 13-month-old border collie provoked a mother brown bear to attack, which forced the man to jump into the Kenai River to escape. The dog went missing following the attack.

August 10: Grizzly Attack in Yellowstone
Two hikers fended off a grizzly attack in Montana, just north of Yellowstone National Park, and were able to escape with minor injuries.

August 10: Polar Bear Attack in Nunavut
A group of three locals at a small Nunavut village barely survived a rare polar bear attack.

August 19: Coastal Brown Bear Bites Tech’s Thigh
An Alaska Department of Fish and Game technician was attacked by a coastal brown bear that chomped his thigh. His coworker dropped the bear with a 12-gauge Remington 870.

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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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