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What are the Chances of Getting Hurt by a Grizzly?

Wilderness—with or without the Great Bear—is a perilous place where a person can slip on a rock, be buried in an avalanche, drown or die of hypothermia.  According to The Great American Bear by Jeff Thorne, a person is twelve times more likely to be killed by a bee sting, than by a grizzly bear.  Moreover, for every person killed by a grizzly bear, 64 are killed by domestic dogs and over 90,000 by fellow humans.  Following are some more specific statistics from Yellowstone Park.

Some Facts:


  • A study conducted in Yellowstone National Park between 1980 and 2015 showed that with about 104 million visitors to the Park, 38 people were injured by grizzlies. 

  • Between 1872 and 2015 (145 years), a total of 8 people were killed by bears in Yellowstone Park. More people were killed by drownings, burns (by falling into hot pools), and suicides. 


  • During the last 20 years, there has been only one grizzly bear-caused human injury within a developed area in the Park.  By contrast, human injuries from grizzly bears in developed areas averaged approximately one per year during the 1930’s through the 1950’s and four per year during the 1960’s.  (Many were caused by garbage-conditioned bears.)


  • Human injuries from grizzly bears in the backcountry, a rare occurrence before 1970, increased to an average of approximately one per year during the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s.  This slight increase may be related to the increase in backcountry recreational use in Yellowstone since the early 1970’s.

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Image © Roger Hayden - all rights reserved

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The top ten causes of human mortality in Yellowstone National Park from 1839-1994 were:


    1.)  Drowning                       101

    2.)  Falls                                 24

    3.)  Airplane crashes           20       

    4.)  Hot spring burns          19

    5.)  Suicide                            16

    6.)  Hypothermia                 17

    7.)  Horse drawn carriage   9

    8.)  Indian battle                   7

    9.)  Horses                             7

    10.)  Shootings                      7


Five people were killed by grizzly bears during this same time period. 

(Grizzlies were in 17th place in the list of primary causes of human mortality in Yellowstone).


The chance of being injured by a bear while in the Park is approximately one in 2.7 million.

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