Bear Biologist Makes Hyperbolic Claim about Bear Mauling and Lightning Strikes

Image courtesy Dean Weingarten

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- In a March 15, 2020 article about a bear encounter by Caroline Wellbery, a bear biologist makes a hyperbolic claim. It is not unusual for people to make hyperbolic claims about bears, which are not founded in facts or data. It is irresponsible for experts in the field to do so. From the washingtonpost.com:

There is a bigger chance of getting hit twice by lightning, Craighead says, than being mauled by a bear.

As with any statistical assessment, it depends on a number of assumptions. If you are talking about the United States as a whole, Craighead's claim is false.

Over the last decade, the number of people killed by lightning per year, according to weather.gov, has been 26. The number of people struck by lightning is about 10 times that number, or about 260 a year, or about 1 out of 1.27 million in a year. The number struck by lightning has been falling.  The expected lifespan in the United States is about 79 years.

Assuming that each person has half of their life to live after the first strike, at any one time, there are about 79/2 x 260 people who have been struck by lightning once, or 10,270 living in the United States. Each of those, in a given year, has a chance of being struck by lightning again. Because the odds are so small, they are, essentially, additive, so, for a given year, they are very close to 10,270/1.27 million, or .008 per year, or about 1 person every 123 years.

There are a couple of people in existence who have been struck by lightning more than once, so the odds may be a little greater.  Then again, the number of people struck by lightning has been falling, while the number of people mauled by bears has been rising.

There are many times as many people alive who have been mauled by a bear, as have been struck by lightning twice.

According to research in Alaska, there are about seven bear attacks requiring at least one day in the hospital for each fatal bear attack. There are other people who only need stitches and are released, or who have other, minor injuries.

There have been 18 fatal bear attacks in the United States in the last decade.

7 x 18 is 126, or about 12 bear maulings requiring at least 1 day in the hospital each year, on average. That does not count the people attacked by a bear who can be released from the hospital the same day. Over the same time period, the number of people being hit, twice, by lightning would be .008 x 10 or about .08 people per decade.

In the United States, your chance of getting mauled by a bear is about 1500 times as great as being struck by lightning, twice.

Craighead is not just wrong in his estimate, he is off by three orders of magnitude.

The comparison of lightning strikes to bear attacks is a frivolous, Orwellian exercise. All risks should be taken in context. In some contexts, bear attacks are a serious risk. In most, they are not. In the backwoods of Yellowstone park, the chance of being in an automobile accident are very small, but the chance of being killed by a bear is significant, about the same at that of being in a fatal automobile accident in the rest of the United States.

Where most bear attacks occur, deaths by bear can be more frequent than deaths by lightning strike. They are clearly more common than being hit twice by lightning. Seven of the eighteen fatal bear attacks in the United States in the last decade occurred in Alaska. There were no recorded deaths by lightning in Alaska during that decade.

Humans are, generally, far more dangerous to other humans than are bears. Bears may kill, over the entire world, a dozen humans or less in a year (there are more bear attacks in Asia than in North America, and almost as many in Europe). Humans kill about half a million humans in a year.

In the backcountry of Yellowstone park, bears kill more humans than humans do.

Humans learn from others and learn how to prevent attacks and exposure to lightning strikes. A person who has been struck by lightning may be careful to expose themselves less.

Long experience with bears has resulted in people knowing how to effectively avoid and/or stop a bear attack. It is likely about 10 bears are killed for each bear that attacks and injures a human. The chance of a bear mauling is not the same as the chance of a bear attack. Bear attacks occur much more frequently. They mostly fail, and the bear is killed or driven off.

In my research, handguns are shown to be about 97% effective in stopping bear attacks.


About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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StLPro2A
StLPro2A
5 months ago

Whatever the actual probabilities are is pretty irrelevant. Personally I’ll take a pass on being bear mauled or lightning struck. But, that’s just a really, really old guy pondering.

Oldman
Oldman
5 months ago

@Yak, How did you decide to drag me into this Bullshit? I give you the same credit as my youngest grandson who has to stand in the corner , whining all the time.

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago
Reply to  Oldman

Oldman: I just popped some more corn and sat back and watched the show. It was just a matter of time.

SEMPAI
SEMPAI
5 months ago
Reply to  RoyD


Hola

RoyD
RoyD
5 months ago
Reply to  RoyD

I don’t mind playing; but, not when it’s too deep. I got another thousand 165gr 40 cals that I loaded up in 40 S&W cases after modifying their hollowpoints and then there is the daily seven mile bike ride and the ducks at the pond that get excited if I don’t feed them every day. And going to the stores and ordering another Glock conversion barrel (10mm for my G30) and some glock parts. Like I have said before, it is good to be retired and have disposable income. But I will continue to contribute as long as conditions permit… Read more »

American Patriot
American Patriot
5 months ago

Don’t leave your house without your brain…..If your a liberal stay away from dirt places!

rotten-ron
rotten-ron
5 months ago

It’s a well known fact that 78.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot!!!

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  rotten-ron

, that is funny! LOL

SEMPAI
SEMPAI
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

.

Heed the Call-up
Heed the Call-up
5 months ago
Reply to  rotten-ron

Ron, that is not true, it is closer to 90%, but I don’t have the facts to prove it. 🙂

Quatermain
Quatermain
5 months ago

I can’t find the Craighead quote in the provided WAP.O.S article link, but I suspect it is very old and may have been more accurate 40 years ago when the Craighead’s were active. As a retired wildlife biologist who was active 40 years ago when the bear had not extended their range far into North Idaho, I never once saw G Bear sign in the Selway Bitterroot. So I indeed was more worried about lightning. That being said the Craigheads liberal environmentalist bent was obvious then. Today I don’t venture out in the hills without being armed.

gregs
gregs
5 months ago

I believe he prefers gerbils.

Finnky
Finnky
5 months ago

@Jac – As any good writer, Dean writes about things he understands. When he writes about bear attacks he is specifically addressing attacks on our rights which begin with false narrative around bear attacks. If you actually comprehend his writing, he generalizes from firearms used In protection from bear attacks to the far more frequent uses in protection from humans. Dean presents clear, supported statistics demonstrating fallacies from our attackers, and showing positive effects of carrying firearms. Particularly like his explanation of how odds depend upon situation and location. No one needs to carry a pistol in NYC for bear… Read more »

Finnky
Finnky
5 months ago
Reply to  Finnky

@J337 – Perhaps like me he considers that given his personal circumstances an animal attack is more likely than having to fight off humans. It has been years since I’ve suffered even a threat of violence from a human, but a few days ago a coyote followed me and my dogs on our walk. Fortunately he had the sense to stick with walking rather than stalking or attempting to approach. My snuggly pups may not be in the best shape, but the small one is twice the size of a coyote and they are both in touch with their inner… Read more »

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago

@Yakup, First, do you really expect to post opinions here and not have people disagree or at least question you? Second, aren’t you that guy that wanted everyone to support a statutory change that would clear the way for your gun purchase? Some gratitude. Finally, your choice of word use reveals the inner workings of your mind.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@Yakup, It is the pictures you draw and words that you use that I object to. If perverted sex dominates your mind, then keep it to yourself.
How do you know if you hurt anyone’s feelings? Are you a long distance mind reader, now?
If you have not seen me here it is because there is ranch work to do. Ranch work is not scheduled by a supervisor.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@Yak, East Texas.

Finnky
Finnky
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@WB – Any issues getting stock to market these days?

Media likes to portray unusual anecdotes as the norm. These days they show a dairy farmer dumping milk and a hog farmer slaughtering excess pork because neither can currently market their products – media implies that these occurrences are unique to this time and occurring with a majority of producers. Just as with gun use, we need to get at the real statistics instead of relying upon a few sensationalized stories. So I’m looking for another individual story, hoping it is a counter point to media’s spin.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Finnky

@Finnky, I encountered a city dwelling troll on this site whose unprepossessing comments convinced me to stop sending my cows to slaughter. I like my cows. I hated the thought of them feeding the city troll. By the grace of God, I am in a financial position to let my cows retire in peace. Nope, I have no market problems.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

, Maybe, he’ll try to steal the ranch.

Finnky
Finnky
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@wjd – Most kids mature considerably over an eight year period. Yes it is a reflection on who he is, but I wouldn’t totally judge someone like @Jak by a single event like that. In his case his frequent incoherent attacks on other ammoland members tells me more about him than his criminal record. On the other hand, twenty year old misdeeds by someone pushing eighty cannot be written off as youthful indiscretion nor can one easily believe said miscreant turned their behavior around after learning from their misdeeds. Biden cannot claim to have learned from his mistakes, he can… Read more »

PMinFl
PMinFl
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

With self control issues like you exhibit it’s no wonder you’re a prohibited person.

Knute
Knute
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

No, Its scheduled by your cows! 🙂 They’re the bosses in my yard. If they run out of feed or want milked they start kicking the house!

Finnky
Finnky
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@Jacob – Split personality? Some days you put together fairly sane posts and manage to interact like a person who can be included in social discussion. Others you become an insulting idiot, who provides great anecdotal evidence supporting maintaining prohibition. While I oppose general blanket infringements, you manage to show yourself to be someone who should not be armed.

ConfusedForeignGirl
ConfusedForeignGirl
5 months ago

I once had the opportunity to photography a grizzly bear in the wild. It was right next to the road and I got out of mine car to take photos. I left the door open and was right next to it and the bear was about 40 feet away. Not one of my best ideas. The bear watched me and when I stood up from where I was crouched it turned and bolted away. I’m 5’3 and slight but I guess I’m scary to a massive grizzly lol

gregs
gregs
5 months ago

j337, now your true self come out. you cannot take any criticism from others and you use ad hominin attacks against a woman. what a man! you should continue to feed the bears as much as you like and I am sure you will be okay. cfg, I understand your confusion. it seems like the prohibited list would be a great thing, but many non-violent felons who have paid their debt to society are unable to get their 2A rights back due to the list. personally, I think violent felons should be on the list, but not non-violent ones. hope… Read more »

Finnky
Finnky
5 months ago
Reply to  gregs

@Gregs – Agree with you – however @Jak’s demeanor goes a long ways towards arguing to keep the prohibitions. Fortunately, judging by his words on this forum – he could be (and should be) adjudicated as mentally ill. Thus he should still be prohibited without his felony record.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago

@CFG, Here is what is wrong: 1. It is not in the Constitution, Amendment II. The Constitution is the basis and framework of our republic. Any statute passed by the Congress or state legislature that is contrary to the Constitution is null and void. 2. When one has “paid their debt to society” their sentence is over. The statute (list) referred to continues to punish a person after they have paid their “debt to society”. After the sentence is served the person is no longer “bad” or a “usual suspect”. He is just a person. What makes the jurisprudence of… Read more »

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

, We will never get back to full constitutional civil rights as long as people like Yackup continue to speak.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@Yackup, but you failed … like I said.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@USA, Ok.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@Yackup, You have it completely backwards.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@USA, I know, that you know, that the First Amendment only applys to government. Ammoland is not an agency of the government and Will is not an agent of the government.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

@USA, We won’t by-pass anything, but we are not required to converse with him.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

, Yes … special. Behind me … no.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago

@CFG, All true, and I am glad that you got that off your chest. But now back to civilized conversation. You have a lot to add!

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago

@Yackup, All those negative waves. You have sloppy impulse control and a great capacity for destroying yourself.

hangemhigh
hangemhigh
5 months ago

Jacob, I just read your exchanges here with others for the first time. I know nothing about you otherwise, so I believe I’m offering an objective, non-biased view. In case it’s of any interest to you, your response to CFG was totally out of line and unwarranted. Prior to your going off on her so offensively with such a misogynistic tone, she said nothing that you should have taken offense to. And even if she did, you turning into a woman hate-fest says more about you than just having a problem being civil with people.

hangemhigh
hangemhigh
5 months ago
Reply to  hangemhigh

Completely missed the point. See ya, chief!

Finnky
Finnky
5 months ago
Reply to  hangemhigh

@hangemhigh – If I’m remembering correctly, @Jac has previously posted opinions that all societies ills started when women got the vote – along with similar statements clearly showing his misogyny. Given his swings between reasonable posts and stuff like the above – I believe he is suffering from serious mental illness.

When in the woods it is best not to feed the bears. Online it is best not to feed the trolls or wackos like @Jak.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago

@Yackup,You would not last a few minutes in a cage with me, either, but I don’t throw it in your face. We don’t think that you lack an ordinary level of courage. We, just, think that you are obnoxious. So knock it off and mind your bearing.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago

@USA, Did you move away from them because they were offensive? I think that you selected the same solution, with regard to your family, that we will select, with regard to Yackup.

Wild Bill
Wild Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Wild Bill

, Miller time … almost!

Finnky
Finnky
5 months ago

@CFG – WOW. I love a woman who steps up to protect herself. My respect for you jumped several levels reading your response to @Jak. Word to the wise though – he’s quite often not worth responding to. His recent string of posts makes me wonder whether he’s schizophrenic. He had made strides toward being able to converse intelligently as though he was a civilized human being – but has returned to his cave man roots. To misquote and paraphrase your earlier post – Please don’t feed the bears. It just habituates them to being close to humans, making them… Read more »

Knute
Knute
5 months ago

Welcome to the world of Jacob the psychotic. Pretends to be a sane person… until he cannot maintain the facade any longer and the hatred roars free.
I avoid such ones as if they were carrying the plague, for they are, indeed, that dangerous.