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Old 08-25-2017, 12:06 PM
 
Location: NW Nevada
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There's a link to an incident in current events to a story of a hiker killed by a Grizzly in Yellowstone. Pretty gruesome incident. The man was partially consumed and covered. Something these bears do when they intend to come back later for the rest of a kill. There seems to be a sentiment that this is an acceptable thing being as the man was "in the bears territory." Lets discuss the nature of the phenomena of man eaters.


Grizzles (or Brown Bear and Silvertip in some regions) and Mountain Lions are the prime offenders in this category in the US, Lions and leapords in African nations, and tigers in India. We are all I would think familiar enough with the history in the latter two but there seems to be a lack of knowledge regarding North America. Grizzlies and Mountain Lions have a notable history easily searchable. As are African lions and leapords and Indian tigers.


There seems to be a discussion regarding whether or not humans can coexist with serious apex predators turned man eater. The general consensus is that man eating is not an instinctive act by such animals. Actively seeking humans as prey is something that these animals just don't do as a normal thing. But when they do, they do not stop and will keep killing to the point of stalking communities and any place that humans congregate.


The worst case I can bring to mind is the incident in the Tsavo region of Africa made famous by the movie The Ghost and the Darkness. Not a particularly historically accurate film but the general storyline was close. These animals killed hundreds and eluded many attempts to kill them. It's a good read if anyone is so inclined to get the real story.


Man eaters will NOT stop. The bear I mentioned earlier will be tracked down, identified and shot dead. Properly so in my opinion. It ate the man it killed. It will do so again, and eventually start raiding crowded areas of the park if just left to its devices. There is some debate as to what exactly causes an animal to start killing humans regularly as food. There's no theory that can actually stick other than it seems that once they start they won't stop so it's undebatable that they like doing so. For whatever reason.


The only way to make them quit is to track them down and make them. An action they are quite willing to contest. So, this practice is under fire from certain quarters as not being proper. Personally I feel otherwise but some do take a different view. Having studied a bit on the historical aspect of man eaters I'm wondering how these folks feel the situation should be handled. Trank them and put them in a zoo? Relocate them perhaps? I see serious problems with both these possibilities. Need I list them? I think not. The history of man eating predators is lengthy but well worth the time to study if you're a nature oriented, serious outdoor type that ventures into the stomping grounds of apex predator animals or if you live in proximity.


Never have I dealt with an animal that has killed humans, (I'm quite thankful for that) but I have dealt with habitual stock killers. Another developed habit that these critters just won't quit. There was an incident near Auburn CA in the late 80s where a woman was killed by a Mountain Lion on a jogging path. The cat drug her off as food for her cubs. Oh my. There was an 80s version of a gofundme for her family, a husband and three children, which raised around $5000.00 dollars $500.00 dollars of which came from the shop I worked at in Reno. There was also such an effort for the two cubs. The she cat was shot dead. Incredibly this raised $25000.00 dollars.


Wow. So I have to wonder what people who would think like this see as proper action in the case of man eaters. This mentality seems to be confined to the US, as in Africa and India the solution is obvious and beyond contestation. It seems an interesting nature related discussion to me. I am not trying to spark heated and insult ridden rhetoric here. I am looking for a more scientific approach to debate based on history and knowledge of the phenomena of man eaters and what methodology people see as being proper in application to the issue when it arises.


There are a lot of things to consider when forming an opinion on such animals so please no uninformed and emotion driven commentary. I will ask the mods to delete such postings as inflammatory and off topic. I would like historical, scientific and real world experience with apex predators, that habitually stalk humans. Those who have knowledge and experience with habitual stock killers as well since the phenomena is similar in nature. Reasons animals turn this way can often be discovered when the animal is brought down. Injuries, age and such are factors. But some just do it because they seem to like it. It's an interesting if a bit morbid and gruesome topic. I'm quite interested in hearing some good commentary.
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Old 08-25-2017, 01:05 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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I'm not sure it would be necessary to hunt down and kill a man-eater in a true wilderness setting (such as one of the huge and rarely-visited Arctic national parks), because the likelihood of a second incident occurring would be extremely low. But most places on earth these days don't fit that description, so I have no problem with killing an animal that has been confirmed to be a man-eater. (Or relocating it to a zoo, if that can be safely done. Either is fine, it just can't be allowed to run around free where it will be able to attack other people.)

But people need to understand that if we wish to continue to co-exist with apex predators, we also need to change our ways in order to minimize the chances of conflict. (My pet peeve: people who are careless with food in bear country. A Snickers bar left out on a picnic table is just as deadly as a bullet to a bear; it just takes a bit longer to kill.)
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Old 08-25-2017, 01:33 PM
 
Location: NW Nevada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
I'm not sure it would be necessary to hunt down and kill a man-eater in a true wilderness setting (such as one of the huge and rarely-visited Arctic national parks), because the likelihood of a second incident occurring would be extremely low. But most places on earth these days don't fit that description, so I have no problem with killing an animal that has been confirmed to be a man-eater. (Or relocating it to a zoo, if that can be safely done. Either is fine, it just can't be allowed to run around free where it will be able to attack other people.)

But people need to understand that if we wish to continue to co-exist with apex predators, we also need to change our ways in order to minimize the chances of conflict. (My pet peeve: people who are careless with food in bear country. A Snickers bar left out on a picnic table is just as deadly as a bullet to a bear; it just takes a bit longer to kill.)

Careless and ignorant action in areas that knock up against wildlife , particularly large predators can and does result in attacks. Backcountry excursions should not be undertaken by novices unguided by a pro. However attacks and actually killing and eating humans are totally different matters. To the subject of attacks, there is an interesting thing that jumps out at me in the statistics of bear incidents with campers/hikers. A large number involved are women.


I discussed bear attacks with a ranger once and what he told me just made absolute sense. Women are often attacked because they venture into bear country at a certain time of the month. Jut NOT a good idea. So there are a great many reasons that explain simple attacks. But not near so many that explain the active pursuit of humans as prey habitually. Animals that do so more often than not will do so just because they can.
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Old 08-25-2017, 01:45 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Originally Posted by NVplumber View Post
So there are a great many reasons that explain simple attacks. But not near so many that explain the active pursuit of humans as prey habitually. Animals that do so more often than not will do so just because they can.
I think with grizzly bears in particular, an attack can start off as defensive and then turn predatory after the person is severely injured or killed. Which makes a certain morbid sense: the bear may not have intended to mortally injure the person initially, but having done so, why waste the valuable protein? And I'm not entirely sure that those sort of "hybrid" attacks lead to later purely-predatory attacks. I just don't think we have enough data to draw firm conclusions there. (OTOH, lethal black bear attacks always seem to be predatory from the start. Which also makes sense, as a black bear's defensive response is to run away rather than stand its grounds as a grizzly does.)

But certainly large felines can and do become persistent man-eaters, and sometimes for no other reason than that people are just so darned easy to kill. And in that case leaving the cat alive is just too big a risk.

The big question is how to educate a public which all too often doesn't want to be educated (certainly not if it inconveniences them, ore requires more than sound-bite levels of thought.) We may never be able to 100% prevent predatory attacks on people, and this may lead to a small number of animals needing to be shot, but we can certainly reduce the number of tragedies by teaching people how to avoid trouble in the first place.
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Old 08-25-2017, 02:05 PM
 
Location: NW Nevada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
I think with grizzly bears in particular, an attack can start off as defensive and then turn predatory after the person is severely injured or killed. Which makes a certain morbid sense: the bear may not have intended to mortally injure the person initially, but having done so, why waste the valuable protein? And I'm not entirely sure that those sort of "hybrid" attacks lead to later purely-predatory attacks. I just don't think we have enough data to draw firm conclusions there. (OTOH, lethal black bear attacks always seem to be predatory from the start. Which also makes sense, as a black bear's defensive response is to run away rather than stand its grounds as a grizzly does.)

But certainly large felines can and do become persistent man-eaters, and sometimes for no other reason than that people are just so darned easy to kill. And in that case leaving the cat alive is just too big a risk.

The big question is how to educate a public which all too often doesn't want to be educated (certainly not if it inconveniences them, ore requires more than sound-bite levels of thought.) We may never be able to 100% prevent predatory attacks on people, and this may lead to a small number of animals needing to be shot, but we can certainly reduce the number of tragedies by teaching people how to avoid trouble in the first place.

Very true. At least that would be a contributing factor here in the US. But as you say. folks don't want to learn or, in many cases, think they know it all. Large felines are historically more significant man eaters. Even when looking at US history the Mountain Lion sticks out more. In Africa and India they are severely problematic. In Tsavo today lions are responsible for a significant number of human deaths. The particular species indigenous to that region are prone to killing humans. The males are maneless. A very...intriguing ...subspecies of lion.
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Old 08-25-2017, 02:16 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Unfortunately, I think with some problematic species/subspecies (like the Tsavo population of lions), preserving them means keeping nearly all people OUT of their habitat. But as the population of humanity swells, that gets harder and harder to do. Those species/subspecies are probably doomed (at least in the wild).

Fortunately with most apex predators, a combination of good public education and culling problem individuals is probably enough to allow long-term coexistence between them and humanity. We're fortunate that most predators are wary of people, and don't attempt to take humans on unless they are starving and desperate, or overconfident due to prior habituating encounters that have reduced their fear of people.
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Old 08-25-2017, 02:19 PM
 
Location: on the wind
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
I think with grizzly bears in particular, an attack can start off as defensive and then turn predatory after the person is severely injured or killed. Which makes a certain morbid sense: the bear may not have intended to mortally injure the person initially, but having done so, why waste the valuable protein? And I'm not entirely sure that those sort of "hybrid" attacks lead to later purely-predatory attacks. I just don't think we have enough data to draw firm conclusions there. (OTOH, lethal black bear attacks always seem to be predatory from the start. Which also makes sense, as a black bear's defensive response is to run away rather than stand its grounds as a grizzly does.)
Yes, this is a likely reason for a grizzly consuming a human they have killed. Outright predatory attacks on humans are incredibly rare. Slightly more common for black bears but still rare enough. Grizzlies may also consume a dead bear. The person/bear who initially triggered a defensive attack becomes carrion; and bears do eat carrion if its available.

However (and here's the problem), its possible that the bear that killed the person isn't the one consuming it later. Bears are not really territorial. A bear will defend a food source but it won't necessarily defend a larger space around it. Another more dominant bear could displace it. Someone would need to identify both the killer and the consumer to be certain.
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Old 08-25-2017, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Originally Posted by AllisonHB View Post
The person/bear who initially triggered a defensive attack becomes carrion; and bears do eat carrion if its available.
Exactly. At no point in the grizzly bear's mind is it hunting; rather, it's defending itself at first, and then scavenging carrion. So I'm not sure a grizzly bear that kills a hiker who has surprised it and then goes on to consume the carcass would later deliberately seek out humans to hunt them down. Big cats, though, are different; generally fatal attacks on humans ARE the result of deliberate hunting behavior, and once the cat has learned that people are both tasty and easy to catch, there's going to be continuing trouble until the cat is shot.

Of course, since most grizzly attacks are happening in places like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and the adjacent national forests which see significant human visitation, and not super remote spots like Gates of the Arctic National Park, I don't blame the authorities in charge of those places for being cautious and hunting down bears responsible for the rare fatal attacks on people. Ultimately, the best way to protect grizzlies long-term is to keep the large, remote parts of Alaska and northern Canada relatively unvisited.
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Old 08-25-2017, 03:21 PM
 
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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I always found it curious that in Banff National Park (Canada), there are signs along all the trails telling you waht to do in case you come across a Grizzley Bear. But in Glacier National Park (in the US), there were none. Can you guess where more attacks, injuries and fatalities occured?
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Old 08-25-2017, 03:26 PM
 
Location: NW Nevada
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Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
Exactly. At no point in the grizzly bear's mind is it hunting; rather, it's defending itself at first, and then scavenging carrion. So I'm not sure a grizzly bear that kills a hiker who has surprised it and then goes on to consume the carcass would later deliberately seek out humans to hunt them down. Big cats, though, are different; generally fatal attacks on humans ARE the result of deliberate hunting behavior, and once the cat has learned that people are both tasty and easy to catch, there's going to be continuing trouble until the cat is shot.

Of course, since most grizzly attacks are happening in places like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and the adjacent national forests which see significant human visitation, and not super remote spots like Gates of the Arctic National Park, I don't blame the authorities in charge of those places for being cautious and hunting down bears responsible for the rare fatal attacks on people. Ultimately, the best way to protect grizzlies long-term is to keep the large, remote parts of Alaska and northern Canada relatively unvisited.

As far as bears go, Polar Bears are considered to be the most dangerous species to humans. That they will attack humans as prey out of hand seems to be a gimme amongst people who know these bears. They are different. Sort of the N American Tsavo animal, so to speak. Staying out of their stomping grounds alone and unarmed is highly discouraged. There are communities that have populations of these animals that come in to feed on their garbage. It's not a good situation. Polars are considered THE apex of apex among bear species.
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