Bears are big and dangerous. Certainly, they don’t typically go out looking for people, but people continue to go further into bear habitats, increasing the chances of injury.
This paper in the journal Injury describes bear attack patients who presented to a tertiary center in Kashmir and injury patterns they sustained. They made sure to exclude injuries received from fleeing, and only those caused directly by bears. Importantly, the attacks were from the Asiatic black bear, which is known for its aggression. All patients were alone when they were attacked, reportedly collecting firewood or reaping corncobs. They do not comment if they were campers or simply villagers. Rabies prophylaxis was given to all patients, the rationale was “none of them had been able to kill the attacking bear and hence the rabies status of the animal was unknown.”
They do comment on the attacks themselves, and the pertinent information included:
- 28 of the attacks were in people trying to scare the bear away
- 4 recalled a bear with cubs
- Most attacks (26) occurred June-October (attributed to pre-hibernation foraging)
- Significant transportation delays occurred, with only 2 patients presenting within 6 hours
- Majority upper extremity injuries
- 18 open fractures of various grades
- 1 lower extremity injury
- 4 eye injuries
- 2 mandibular fractures, and 2 skull fractures
- Finger amputations and muscle avulsions were common
- Head and neck injuries were from teeth, but arm injuries were from claws
- Eleven patients developed infections of their wounds, all were mixed flora.