Yellowstone Death Does Not Mean Grizzlies Are Coming for You

This has been a bad summer for national parks. Between waterfall drownings, hiking falls, and grizzly bear attacks, it seems your chances of being killed out in the wild have gone up exponentially this year. But it only seems that way.

Just last month, there was a grizzly attack in Yellowstone National Park. Soon after, there were three waterfall deaths. And then on Monday, another hiker was found dead after being attacked by a bear.

Obviously, it's tragic every time it happens, but even though it makes national headlines, the fact remains grizzly bear deaths aren't exactly common. In fact, the last time it happened in Yellowstone prior to this summer was in 1986.


So why are there two this year when there haven't been any in 25 prior to this? It's unclear. It could be coincidence. It could be human error. What is clear is this isn't the movie Jaws only with bears.

In fact, the biggest danger when hiking or running or enjoying the great outdoors is human mistakes. In Yellowstone alone this year, there have been 17 deaths, only two of which were from bears. Five were from natural causes and the other 12 were from accidents such as falling off cliffs and being swept over waterfalls, most of which occurred when hikers and explorers failed to heed warning signs.

The only time in my life I ever feared bears while hiking was when I was in Alaska, and you better believe I carried bear spray, among other defensive devices. I also made a lot of noise and heeded all warning signs. And I didn't get eaten. This puts me in the grand, grand majority of the world who has managed not to get eaten by bears.

Be scared, yes. Be in awe for sure. Nature is powerful, and yes, it can kill you. But don't think you will necessarily be innocently walking along when a bear with a thirst for blood will attack. It could happen, but you are much, much more likely to meet your end in another way.

Of course it doesn't make it any less sad. But just being sad and scary doesn't make it likely to happen to you.

Does this scare you?

Image via ilashdesigns/Flickr

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