Potvin Newsly

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bear Attack Week: The Bear Lethality Index

Many arguments erupt over which bears are “best.” One can only assume that “best” means “deadliest” or “most lethal” when talking about bears. What other criteria could be used to determine which bear is best? Exactly – none.

I will traverse the vast many species of bears to discover which bear is indeed the best bear of them all.

Koala Bear – This bear ranks extremely low in lethality, due to the fact that it is neither a bear nor lethal.

Panda Bear – Panda bears are probably “capable” of killing people, but are they capable of killing other bears? The deadliest bears are. The panda is barely worth mentioning, if not for that time a zoo panda in China mauled a teen when he jumped into “gentle Gu Gu’s” pen. What’s worse than getting attacked by a bear? Surviving and having to tell your friends it was a panda named Gu Gu.

Spectacled Bear – So named because it kind of looks like this bear’s wearing glasses. If that isn’t dis-alarming enough, this bear isn’t even thought to actually be carnivorous. No deaths have ever been reported. Weak.

Sun Bear – This bear has sharp, sickle-shaped claws and formidable teeth; quite scary. But, this bear is also only four feet long and usually weighs less than 145 pounds. Losing some cool points there, bear. This bear isn’t expected to be a threat to anybody who’s reached puberty, and, being the smallest member of the bear family, is sometimes hunted by the Asian black bear. Extra weak.

Sloth Bear – Now, this isn’t a group of bears this time, but this bear was once actually thought to be a sloth, and was known as the bear sloth. It makes one think that if it’s not “beary” enough to be thought of as a bear right off the bat, then how could it be considered for world’s deadliest bear?

Sloth bears are said (by whom I don’t know) to be the most aggressive and least predictable of all Asian bears. And the bears are deadly: during a six year period in one central Indian state, sloth bears killed 48 people. For a comparison, consider that grizzlies killed about 50 people in the whole of North America from 1900-2003.

One creature in particular, the sloth bear of Mysore, was credited with killing 12 people and mauling another 2 dozen in predominately unprovoked attacks. Survivors often lost one or both eyes, and those killed by the bear usually had their faces entirely removed from their head, usually. Sick. This bear only partially ate three people, so he was pretty much killing just for the fuck of it. The sloth bear of Mysore, and indeed all sloth bears, score pretty high on the lethalmeter.

Asian Black Bear – This bear is very similar to the American black bear, with one notable exception: excessive aggressiveness. Some “experts” say this might be due to their more frequent contact with humans, but I say it’s their revenge for the bile-harvesting from their gallbladders. Asian black bears are not fans of traditional Chinese medicine. These bears are deemed to have “above average lethality”.

American Black Bear – These cunning agents of death are known for conducting more predatory attacks than their larger cousins, the brown bears. These guys are the velociraptors of bears. In mid-1992, a black bear entered a retreat cabin occupied by Army Captain Michael Staver and his wife, Darcy. The beast crawled through the window, so Michael and Darcy climbed onto the roof, where they remained marooned. Michael, upon agreement with his wife, ran to their boat to go get help. When he returned with authorities and guns, the bear was found feasting on Darcy’s remains on the ground; it had apparently climbed a tree next to the house and forced her off the roof. From her wounds, it was seen that she had fought the bear with an intrepid spirit to no avail. Michael kept the bear as a pet; it later ate his cat.

In May, 1978, George & Mark Halfkenny and William Rhindress, 12, 14, and 16 years old, respectively, where spending a day fishing in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. William’s older brother, Richard, 18, had taken them out for a day of outdoor activities and other stuff. Anyway, nearing the evening hours, a black bear attacked George Halfkenny whilst he was fishing. Sneak attack, from behind. When Mark Halfkenny and William Rhindress went out to search for their comrade, they too were stalked by the murderous bear. They were both found with broken necks. Richard Rhindress then went about searching for the trio, but saw no sign of them. He left and enlisted the help of the authorities who found the bear guarding the boys’ bodies for later meals.

In August of 1993, a black bear ripped off the door to Colin McClelland’s trailer then crushed his skull. When the brute strength of a bear is tied to the tenacity of a bear and the cunning of a bear, then you have a very dangerous bear. You then have an American Black Bear.

Polar Bears – These bears are, on average, the largest specimens. Certain subspecies of the brown bear may reach sizes that exceed polar bears, but the average brown bear should be slightly smaller than a polar bear. Polar bears have distinctly shaped claws that help them grip the ice and capture their large prey. These claws are designed for killing more so than any another bear. Also, the polar bear’s canines are the largest and sharpest of any bear, although the polar bear’s jaw is usually smaller than a brown bear’s. Polar bear attacks are pretty rare, but they are almost always lethal, as opposed to Brown bears, who typically just maul a person and walk away, whether or not they killed you. The polar bear’s large size, specially made “deathclaws” and “murderteef,” added with it’s tendency to totally go sickhouse on somebody’s ass, gives them a high lethality index.

Brown Bears – The largest of the brown bears are the largest of the bears, period. Kodiak grizzlies and their close cousins, the Kamchatka grizzlies, regularly approach sizes equaling or exceeding that of polar bears. These bears rarely turn into man-eaters, but killing you and leaving you by the wayside might just be more brutal.

In the spring of 1987, Charles Gibbs was photographing a female with cubs in Glacier National Park. This was the last time he was seen alive. Investigators did recover his camera, and developed film of the bear approaching in attack mode at 50 yards. That’s some serious Bear Witch Project shit right there.

Audelio Luis Cortes was working in Alaska with a seismic crew in February of 1998, when a brown bear killed him with a single bite to the head. Viciously brutal.

Julie Helgeson was 19 in the summer of 1967, when she decided to go camping in Glacier National Park. Around the same time, a grizzly decided to drag her sleeping bag from her tent into the woods. Julie’s problem was that she was inside the sleeping bag. The bear did not like this.

Conclusion – Which bear is best deadliest? While Asian black bears and sloth bears score high marks in the number of fatalities, they cannot be regarded as the best bears because they are not apex predators. Asian black bears could account for up to 7% of Siberian tigers’ diets where the two animals live together. Sloth bears are even worse when it comes to being eaten by other animals.

That pretty much narrows it down to the American black bear, the brown bear, and the polar bear. American black bears tend to be more predatory towards people than brown bears, but there’s nearly ten times more black bears than brown ones in North America, and black bears don’t create a significantly greater amount of fatalities to demonstrate this. Hell, half the time brown bears aren’t even trying to kill people, it just happens accidentally when you go into their mechanic shop and they give you a total overmaul. Also, head to head, brown bears beat black bears like silly billies. Killings of black bears by brown ones are extremely rare, but do occur.

So how’s brownie compare to the polar bear? Both bears are extremely well suited for killing people, but brown bears do it more often. Score one there. Brown bears and polar bears don’t interact too often, but brown bears tend to dominate polar bears in disputes over carcasses. That being said, I crown the brown bear as The Best Bear.

Added bonus points: brown bears have reportedly eaten panda bears. Check it out in the Great Bear Almanac.