By Peter JonesIn his latest blog post, Peter Jones, a scientist at the University of Montana, discusses his research on grizzly bear attacks, which are increasing across the western United States.
In the past few years, researchers have been focusing on the threat posed by bears to people and wildlife in Yellowstone National Park, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, and the Great Basin National Park and other national parks.
A bear attack in a forest is a highly lethal event, Jones says.
“It’s very dangerous and it is incredibly painful and can kill,” he writes.
It’s important to remember that the risk of being attacked by a grizzly in a protected area is very low.
The number of grizzly attacks on people has increased, according to Jones, because the number of people in the western US who live in areas that are under threat from grizzly predation has increased.
Bears have been observed attacking people, often using their teeth or claws to crush their skulls, and sometimes leaving their victims for dead.
But in the last five years, the rate of grizzlies attacking humans has dropped substantially.
In 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, just three attacks occurred in Yellowstone, the park’s highest population.
The last attack in the park was in 2013, and there were five attacks in the 1970s.
In the last 20 years, there were six incidents in Yellowstone and five in Tennessee.
Jones’ research on bear attacks was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
He is an assistant professor of science and director of the Center for Wildlife Biology at the Montana Department of Natural Resources.