Which Bear Is The Most Dangerous?
With 8 feet and 1,600 pounds, bears are one of the biggest mammals on the planet. For months, some bears can go without eating, drinking, or even pooping.
However, when it’s time to feed, these bears hunt like the apex predator that they are. Of course, that also makes them very dangerous and aggressive.
But then, this aggression varies from bear to bear. So, in this article, we will compare different species of bears to find out which is the most dangerous and most friendly.
But first, let’s ask:
How Many Species of Bears Are There?
In the world today, we have 8 different species of bears. And all of them are mighty, ferocious, omnivorous, and scavengers.
Although, about 6 of these bears are facing the threat of extinction. To save time, let’s run through a quick list of the bear species and subspecies that we have on our planet, Earth:
- Brown Bears.
Other names: Grizzly Bears, Ursus arctos
Habitat Range: Northern North America, Alaska, Russia, Asia, Europe, and Western Canada.
Status: Least concerned; 110,000+ individuals worldwide.
Size: 1,200 pounds max
Cousins and Subspecies:
i. ABC Islands Bear
Ii. Syrian Brown Bear
Iii. Himalayan Brown
Iv. Dall Island Brown Bear
v. Alaska Peninsula Bear
Vi. Atlas Bear
Vii. California Grizzly Bear and others.
- Asiatic Black Bears.
Other Names: Ursus thibetanus
Habitat Range: Asia, Indonesia, Northern India, China, and Japan
Status: Vulnerable; 50,000 or much lesser.
Size: 340 pounds max.
Cousins and Subspecies: Has only 7 subspecies namely:
I. Formosan Black Bear
Ii. Indochinese Black Bear
Iii. Tibetan Black Bear
Iv. Ussuri Black Bear
V. Himalayan Black Bear
Vi. Balochistan Black Bear
Vii. Japanese Black Bear
- Sloth Bears.
Other Names: Melursus ursinus
Habitat Range: Endemic to Indian zones like Sri-Lanka, Bhutan, and Terai of Nepal.
Status: Vulnerable; Total size uncertain.
Size: 430 pounds max.
Cousin and Subspecies:
- Indian Sloth Bear
- Sri-Lankan Sloth Bear
READ MORE: Are Bears Nocturnal? – All The Facts And Information.
- Giant Panda Bears.
Other Names: Panda Bear, Ailuropoda melanoleuca
Habitat Range: Endemic to South Central China
Status: Vulnerable, but conservation reliant.
Size: 400 pounds max.
Cousin and Subspecies:
- The Qinling Panda
- The Sichuan Panda
- Spectacled Bear.
Other Names: Andean Bear, Mountain Bear, Short-faced Bear, Jukumari, Spectacled Bear, Tremarctos ornatus.
Habitat Range: Endemic to South America regions like Panama, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Northern Argentina, Ecuador
Size: The largest meat-eating animal in South America; up to 450 pounds.
Cousin and Subspecies: None; only species in their family.
- Malayan Sun Bear.
Other Names: Honey Bear, Helarctos malayanus
Habitat Range: Endemic to Indonesia and Malaysia
Status: Vulnerable; 50,000.
Size: Smallest bears on the planet today; 110 pounds max.
Cousin and Subspecies:
- Bornean Sun Bear
- Malaysian Sun Bear
- Polar Bear.
Other Names: Ursus maritimus,
Habitat Range: In the Arctic circle, Greenland, and Canada.
Status: Vulnerable; less than 30,000 individuals.
Size: Largest bears on the planet; up to 1600 pounds.
Cousin and Subspecies: Previously there were two species of polar bears namely:
- American Polar Bear
- Siberian Polar Bear
- North American Black Bear.
Other Names: Ursus americanus, Black Bear
Habitat Range: Endemic to North America
Status: Least concerned; about 476,000.
Size: Medium-sized; 325 pounds max.
Cousin and Subspecies: These include:
I. The Olympic black bear
II.New Mexico Black bear
III. Eastern Black bear
IV. Glacier Bear
V. East Mexican Black Bear
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Are All Bears Dangerous?
Worldwide, many people think that bears are adorable. However, when provoked, bears attack with so much ferocity that can kill a man. Not only that; bears are also built to attack in almost every habitat.
In the icy regions, we have the Michael Phelps of the bear family – the polar bears. Hop over to the tropics, you will find the great climbers – the black bears.
So, in whatever habitats you find them, bears are always atop the food chain. So, regardless of the species, bears are built to be the perfect killing machines.
However, under mundane circumstances, bears don’t attack innocent people. This is because some bears, like pandas, are herbivores. And some bears prefer eating berries, honey, and grapes to tearing flesh for food.
That means, they can only feed on plants, often bamboo leaves and carrots, despite the scary fact that they have powerful jaws and killer claws.
But as gentle as some bears can be, none of them (even pandas) would stay cool when threatened. Such cases happen when baby bears are harmed or disturbed.
However, some bears tend to launch both offensive and defensive attacks compared to others. For instance, a grizzly bear is more likely to attack you than a giant panda. But try to watch out in both cases.
Which Bears Are the Most Dangerous and Aggressive?
Among all bears, the grizzly bears and the polar bears are by far the most dangerous. On one hand, polar bears are much larger than grizzly bears. As such, their metabolism is higher. Likewise, they require more meat than grizzly bears.
In fact, as shocking as it may be, grizzly bears are one of the bears that prefer eating berries and other plants to eating flesh. Then again, polar bears, unlike grizzly bears, remain active all year, even during winter. Of course, that gives them a better survival instinct than grizzlies.
However, on many recorded occasions, polar bears prefer not to go tooth-a-tooth with grizzlies. In fact, when they both lock horns, the polar bears would rather walk away. But then, it’s very rare to see these two together.
This is because polar bears and grizzly bears live in two different habitats. One lives in the woodlands and prairies. The other is found in the arctic circle. As we all know, these two habitats rarely overlap.
So, for us to determine which one of the two bears is more dangerous, let’s examine the fatalities they’ve caused over the years. Between 1870 and 2014, polar bears killed over 20 people and injured 69. In each encounter, at least two people were attacked at a go.
Now, let’s remember that polar bears rarely come in contact with people. So, looking at these stats, we can say that polar bears are more aggressive than grizzly bears.
However, the liver of polar bears is poisonous to humans. If you eat it, you risk the chance of dying from vitamin A poisoning.
In North America only and between 2000 – 2015, there have been 664 attacks by grizzly bears. Annually, about 2 -5 people die from these attacks. Of course, that not only makes grizzly bears dangerous; it also makes them the deadliest.
Black Bears Vs. Brown Bears; Which is the Most Dangerous?
Brown bears can weigh up to 860 pounds. They can reach about 9 feet in height, max out at 35 mph and bite with a force of 1200 psi on a 3-inch fang.
On the other hand, black bears weigh only 590 pounds. They can barely reach 7 feet in height. Their maximum speed is rated at 30 mph. And they can only bite with a force of 975 psi on a 2.3-inch fang.
Now, in the animal world, the bigger you are, the better, and fiercer. Not only that, if you look at the profiles above, you’ll notice that brown bears are even faster and with a stronger bite force than black bears. Of course, that makes brown bears physically more dangerous and aggressive than black bears.
However, both the black bears and the brown bears attack with similar strategies. Oftentimes, they start by stalking their prey till they get very close. On getting close, they launch an ambush attack.
However, a black bear would walk away from a fight that poses no significant threat. A brown bear would not. In fact, a bear brown will continue to attack until any sign of threat has been annihilated.
If the threat is human and a bear got the chance to attack, a brown bear would continue biting and mauling down the victim until it’s dead. Oftentimes, many people have to play dead to escape a fatal end from a brown bear attack.
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Which Bears Have Killed the Most Humans?
In recorded history, Grizzly bears or brown bears have attacked and killed the highest number of humans. This is mostly because they are unpredictable. And at any chance of slight provocations, these bears will attack any human until death separates them.
But, some other species of bears like the black bears and the polar bears are also notorious human killers. Below, we compiled detailed stats on how many people they’ve attacked and killed over the years.
1) Brown bears.
In North America alone and between 2000 – 2015, there have been 664 attacks by grizzly bears. Annually, about 2 -5 people die from these attacks. Oftentimes, these bears attack humans because of hunger and threat to cubs.
2) Polar Bears.
Between 1870 and 2014 alone, polar bears killed over 20 people and injured 69. In each encounter, at least two people were attacked at a go. In some cases, hungry male polar bears consider humans as prey for food.
3) American Black Bears.
Between 1900 to 1980, American black bears killed 23 people. But in 1964 and 1976 alone, over 1,000 black bear attacks and 107 injuries were reported at the National Park in the Great Smoky Mountains.
4) Sloth Bears.
Between 1964 and 1989 alone, sloth bears killed 48 and injured 686 in Madhya Pradesh alone. On one occasion, a single sloth bear killed 12 and injured 2 others.
5) Asian Black Bears.
In Japan, black bears killed 9 between 1979 and 1989.
Which Bear Is the Most Friendly?
All bears are born to be aggressive and all are meant to be dangerous. So, it’s safe to assume that no species of bears are friendly.
However, among bears, the giant pandas are generally considered to be the least hostile. This is because pandas are herbivores. They prefer to eat a carrot, bamboo leaf, and any flowering plant.
Although once upon a time, pandas were carnivores. That means, somewhere in them, they still have the instincts of a predator.
Now, at the other end of the spectrum, we have the polar bears, which are the least friendly to humans. This is because, unlike other bears, polar bears are the only species that consider humans as prey to hunt for food.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is the most dangerous bear in North Alaska?
Of all bears in Alaska, the Alaskan brown bears or grizzly bears are the most dangerous. The next in line are the black bears.
- What’s the most dangerous bear in Canada?
The most dangerous bear(also the most dangerous animal) in Canada is the polar bear. Remember we said earlier that polar bears hunt humans as prey. Canadians are among those that polar bears consider fresh blood.
- What is the most dangerous bear in North America?
The American black bear is the most dangerous in North America. Although compared to grizzly bears and polar bears, these bears are less dangerous.
Are Koala Bears, Asian Bearcats, and Red Pandas True Bears?
Let’s analyze these three supposedly types of bears in tandem. For one, Koala bears, or simply koalas, are not true bears. Although, they have some features in common with ordinary bears. Instead, Koalas are classified as Marsupials.
In case you don’t know, marsupials are animals whose babies complete their embryonic development in a pouch. Oftentimes, this pouch is attached to the body of the mother. Other common examples aside from Koalas are Kangaroos, Wallabies, Wombats, and Tasmanian Devils.
Like Koalas, the Asian Bearcats, aka Binturong, are “fake bears.” Neither are they cats. Instead, they are classified into another family of mammals called Viverridae. Other animals that are in the same family as the bearcats are genets and civets.
While ordinary giant pandas are indeed bears, their misconceived cousins, the Red Pandas are not. Instead, the red pandas are classified into another family of mammals called Ailuridae. Although a long time ago, red pandas and giant pandas were considered to be relatives.
As such, they are both grouped as bears. But after a series of DNA analyses that lasted even up to 2020, finally; the red pandas were disqualified as family members of the bears.
So generally, all bears are dangerous. The most aggressive and dangerous bears are the grizzly bear or the brown bears. The most friendly bears are the pandas and the ones that hunt humans for food are the polar bears.
But all in all, try your best to avoid an encounter with any of them even if you consider them adorable.