One Man's Horrific Encounter With A Bear

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According to the New York Post, a German man was viciously attacked by a bear while filming rare birds in the Carpathian Mountains of Central Europe on May 14, 2023. The man, Andreas Kieling, was bird-watching in the forest when the bear suddenly attacked him. The bear mauled the man, biting him several times on the head and body.

The man was able to fight off the bear and escape, but he was seriously injured. The man has said he believes he was attacked because he entered the bear’s territory. The bear might have been guarding a deer carcass or protecting its cubs.

He has also said that he is grateful to be alive.

snarling bear up close

While bear attacks make the news, they are rare. According to, at least 30 deaths from dog bites in the United States yearly.

By comparison, according to Statista, bears don’t even rank in the top 10 for deaths by animal globally.

When bear attacks do happen, they make the news.

One of the most popular movies of 2023 was “Cocaine Bear.” The movie was inspired by a true story of a bear that got into a pack of cocaine. I enjoyed the movie. It’s a parody of “Jaws” featuring a bear. The deaths are over-the-top, but I was reminded this morning that actual bear attacks are so gruesome they make “Cocaine Bear” seem like a Looney-Tunes cartoon.

cute bear in a meadow

A bear in Japan was seen walking around with a pair of fishing waders in its mouth. Meanwhile, a fisherman who had been dropped off in the area was reported missing.

And then Somebody found a human head. It’s believed to be the head of the missing fisherman.

As scary as bear attacks are, they are exceptionally rare.

The Appalachian Trail is America’s most famous and popular hiking trail. There are many black bears on the AT.

Yet, the Trail averages one death per decade from bears.

Alaska has more bear attacks than any other state in the US, and even Alaska has only had 6 deaths from bears in a decade. While bears can crush a bowling ball with their jaws, they should not keep you from enjoying the outdoors. What you need to do is to follow some basic tips, and you will be able to camp in bear country.

5 Tips For Being Outdoors In Bear Territory

a lake in the mountains of California

Make Noise

Bears are most likely to attack when they are surprised. Making noise allows bears to hear you coming and avoid an encounter. Noise can also help to scare bears away. Some good ways to make noise outdoors around bears include talking and playing audiobooks or podcasts. Bears are curious, so if you only play music, they might come for a closer look.

Keep Food Away From Your Tent

My friend Rich lives in Colorado. He has backpacked into Rocky National Park. And he has been awakened by the sounds of bears walking past his tent. Bears are not hunting humans. They are looking for food.

This is why you don’t want to keep food or any toiletries in your tent. This is a good idea even if you are not camping around bears. My friend Randall had a raccoon chew through a tent to get a Snickers candy bar in his backpack.

If you are camping at a prepared campground in bear territory, use the provided bear lockers. If you are backpacking, you should use a container or an approved bear sack. Talk to the park staff to ensure you carry the proper gear.

You can also use a bear-resistant cooler. My cooler even contains holes where you can put bolts or locks to strengthen the cooler from being opened by bears.

bear walking across a road in Big Bend National Park

Hike In Groups Of 3 Or More

If you study bear attacks, you learn most are like the filmmaker or fisherman from earlier in this article. The victims are people who were alone in the woods. They are also frequently trying to be quiet. This is why hunters are often attacked: they are trying to be quiet, not on a trail, and not actively looking for bears.

If you are going for a hike, you should hike with at least one more person and ideally two people. There are several reasons for this.

While hiking on Cumberland Island, I discovered the island was full of wild horses.

Horses are beautiful, but as with any large wild animal, they can be dangerous. One of the members of our group was chased by a horse at one of our rest stops.

When you encounter a large wild animal, whether it’s a pig, horse, or bear, the larger you can present yourself, the safer you will be.

To my recollection, there are no known bear attacks involving three or more people.

Be Extra Vigilant With Your Dog

In a hiking Facebook group, a woman said she liked to hike with her dogs in bear territory. I mentioned that she needed to be careful with the dogs. She snapped at me, saying when she and her dogs come upon a bear, the dogs run off.

This is dangerous because when a dog (or a human) runs, the bear’s predator instinct can kick in and chase after the dog.

While the dog might be able to run faster than the bear, you are not going to outrun the bear.

Or, as the joke goes: Always take someone slower with you when you go into the outdoors because bears are fast but not picky.

On a serious note, per ABC News, 50% of bear attacks involve dogs. Thus, keep your dog on a leash and under control if you encounter a bear.

Bears are beautiful creatures that we must treat with respect.

When I backpacked Big Bend National Park, I hoped to see a bear on the trail because Big Bend is currently the only place where a bear population exists in Texas. There are rumors of bears coming to east Texas, but the population is not established yet.

Anyway, while I saw lots of bear poop on the trail, I didn’t see any bears until our final day.

When we were eating lunch outside the visitor’s center after our hike, a bear walked out of the woods and got his lunch from the dumpster.