These are the worst bear attacks to have ever occurred on humans. These creatures’ killing capabilities are absolutely unreal.
7: Susan Chalfant
December, 2013: Florida resident Susan Chalfant narrowly escapes a bear attack while walking her dogs in her gated community. During her daily stroll, a black bear jumped out of nowhere & began attacking her. Neighbors watched the horrendous incident unfold as it began mauling Susan. After one of the bystanders immediately called 911, she was finally able to escape to a neighbor’s house.
Upon arriving at the hospital, workers discovered that she was bleeding from the head. It turns out that the bear had bit her face. Susan was later able to recall the event, stating that the black bear knocked her down, circled around as if to block her escape route, then attacked again by biting her face. She fought back by trying to gouge its eyes out, which successfully helped in fending the bear off.
Authorities were able to catch the bear & it’s been living in captivity ever since. Wildlife officials speculate it was a mother bear that mistook Chalfant & her dogs as a threat to her cubs, and was ultimately acting to protect her offspring; although they have not ruled out the possibility of it being a predatory attack either.
6: The Sankebetsu Brown Bear Incident
The Sankebetsu Brown Bear Incident is considered to be the worst bear attack in Japan’s history. Between December 9th and December 14th, 1915, seven Japanese settlers were killed by a brown bear named Kesagake, who awoke early from hibernation. A group of people initially shot at this same bear less than two weeks earlier on November 30th, hoping that it would scare away after the shooting.
On December 9th, however, Kesagake appeared at the home of a farmer named Hasumi Mikko. The bear managed to kill the farmer by biting his skull, then attacked his wife, Abe Mayu. The wife tossed firewood at the bear but was eventually killed & dragged off into the forest. The next day, a group of villagers went looking for the bear in order to kill it. They began shooting upon finding it, but only one of them managed to hit the beast. While they were able to escape the ordeal unharmed, they did manage to find the remains of Mayu, the farmer’s wife. This confirmed that the bear was indeed dangerous.
Knowing the bear’s savage tendencies, they plotted to kill it by setting a trap. This, however, did not stop Kesagake. It went on to kill a mother & her children after breaking into their hut & mauling the victims to death. Nearby guardsmen shot at the beast several times & missed, thus allowing it to escape the village unharmed.
The villagers enlisted famed bear hunter Yamamoto Heikigachi to track down & kill Kesagake. After trailing it for a day or so, the old hunter managed to land two shots on the bear, after which it finally went down.
5: Wapiti Sow
In July & August of 2011, several hikers were killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. This sparked an investigation to find the bear responsible for the deaths, which eventually led to the capture of the bear, known as Wapiti Sow. It was eventually put down via lethal injection.
According to a story in the Washington Post, Yellowstone National Park saw no fatalities from bear attacks for nearly 30 years. But as the bear population increased along with the number of visitors to the park, that all changed in 2010 when a bear attacked a campground & killed two people. Then in 2011, one of the mother bear’s victims was Lance Crosby, an experienced hiker who worked part time at the park. After going missing during a hike, rescuers eventually found his body half a mile from the nearest trail. He had been mauled to death & partially eaten by a bear.
Another victim was Brian Matayoshi who—along with his wife—stumbled upon Wapiti Sow & her cubs. Brian tried running away, but the bear chased him down & bit his legs. His wife, Marilyn, survived by pretending to be dead. She tried saving her husband after the bear left but it was too late. He bled to death before help could even arrive.
The bear also claimed the life of John Wallace, a self-described grizzly expert according to Outside Online. He suffered a similar fate to Lance Crosby & Brian Matayoshi while hiking & was found dead meters away from the trail with bite marks on his arms, indicating attempts to defend himself.
Slate Magazine reported that during an investigation, wildlife experts gathered bear DNA evidence from the victims. This allowed them to make a positive identification on the bear when they trapped her & her cubs. While Wapiti Sow was ultimately put down after much deliberation & consultation with wildlife experts, the cubs were sent to a zoo to be cared for.
4: The Grizzly Man
Timothy Treadwell became known as “The Grizzly Man” as the subject of the 2005 documentary of the same title. The film was directed by Werner Herzog & chronicles the life & times of Treadwell as well as his passion & devotion towards studying grizzly bears. In 2003, however, Treadwell & girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed & eaten by a grizzly.
Treadwell was known for founding an organization meant to protect bears called “Grizzly People.” He would travel to Alaska every year for 13 years to live with the grizzly bears of Katmai National Park. It was here in which his death occurred on October 5th, 2003 while he & Amie were camping near a salmon stream that bears are known to feed at. Amie was apparently scared of bears & did not want to be anywhere near them. Her fears proved fatal, as their remains were discovered the next day by a pilot that was supposed to pick them up.
The pilot saw the abandoned camp site guarded by a large grizzly bear & proceeded to notify park rangers. A search-and-rescue team was deployed, which found the remains of Timothy & Amie. The team killed the bear & upon examination, found human remains in its stomach. As it turns out, the couple left a video camera running when the attack took place. Because the lens was still covered, only audio of the attack was recorded. The audio was never actually released to the public as director Werner Herzog—who was filmed listening to it during the documentary—gave the tape to the couple’s friend & asked that it never be released.
3: Phillip Vetter
September 12th, 1892: avid buffalo hunter Phillip Vetter is killed by a bear in his cabin near Greybull River, Wyoming. He was, in fact, in the middle of a bear-hunting trip when one burst into his cabin & mauled him to death. His dead body was discovered one week later by another hunter who was seeking shelter from the rain.
This same hunter also discovered an old newspaper containing a note written in Vetter’s blood describing his battle to the death with the bear. The note ended with “I’m dying.” The hunter went looking for the bear responsible for killing Vetter but could only find his hat & a rifle with a shell jammed into the chamber. Vetter apparently tried shooting the bear but was unable to since the gun was jammed. Although he survived the actual attack & managed to write the note with his blood, he died soon after from the wounds that were inflicted.
2: The Porterfield Children
May 19th, 1901: the three young Porterfield siblings are out gathering flowers one Sunday afternoon in Job, West Virginia when suddenly, they were attacked by a bear. After not returning home, a search party was called upon to find the whereabouts of three-year-old Mary, five-year-old Willie, & seven-year-old Henry. Their bodies were eventually discovered near a large black bear, which was shot & killed by a member of the search party who happened to be a hunter named John Weldon.
While searching for the children, Weldon noticed a hat & what he believed to be evidence of a body being dragged into a thicket. He & another man followed the tracks & found the remains of the small children. Upon seeing the bear, Weldon took aim & shot it down. One account in particular described how the children’s bones were crushed by the bear & their skin was ripped off, after which it was feasting on their flesh.
1: Darsh Patel
September 21st, 2014: Rutgers University student Darsh Patel is hiking with a group of friends in the Apshawa Preserve in West Milford, New Jersey when they spot a 300 pound black bear in the distance. Upon seeing the beast, the group initially began snapping photos. But the bear started coming in closer & pictures recovered from Patel’s phone show that it was only about 100 feet away at the time.
As the bear came even closer it closed in on the group of friends, who tried leaving by dispersing in different directions. Everyone from the group escaped safely except for Patel, who was tracked down by the large bear. According to his friends, Patel lost a shoe during the scramble & climbed up a rock formation while telling his friends to run & seek help. The group left the woods & immediately called 911.
Rescuers returned to the woods only to find Patel’s remains. A police officer shot & killed the bear in question. They later found human remains inside its stomach as well as in its claws. According to NJ.com, this was the first confirmed fatal bear attack case that’s ever taken place in the state of New Jersey.