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Wilderness Environ Med. 1999 Summer;10(2):75-87.

Bear-inflicted human injury and fatality.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.


This review attempts to summarize credible scientific information, and to dispel myths, regarding bear attacks. Publications in the scientific literature were sought through a Medline search and by reviewing the bibliographies of related books and scientific articles. Personal experience and interviews with authorities were also used in preparation of this review, although only published articles or books are cited. This is a summary of case series reported or observed elsewhere. Bear-inflicted human injury and death is rare. Brown bear attacks tend to be severe and to occur suddenly, without provocation. Black bear attacks usually result in minor injuries and tend to be predacious. Polar bear attacks are exceedingly rare, and the ferocity of polar bears has probably been overemphasized. Bear-inflicted wounds should be treated as major trauma in accordance with advanced trauma life support guidelines. This information may be useful in counseling patients with regard to prevention of injury or death from bear attack.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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