Do Grizzly Bears Eat Humans? (5 Questions Worth Asking!)

Grizzly bears are one of the most aggressive species of bears. They stand their ground to defend their young ones from all threats.

This may get you wondering if grizzly bears eat humans. 

Here’s a quick answer –

NO! Grizzly bears do not normally eat humans. In fact, they naturally prevent getting in contact with us.

About 70% of known grizzly bear attacks are a result of disturbing the bear or coming in close contact with them.

It rarely attacks humans but when they do, it is in a bid to protect its cub; this is prevalent with their female species. 

While grizzly bears do not typically eat humans, there’s still a small chance that they will!

Let’s take a look at 3 possible reasons they would eat a human.

Table of Contents

Why Do Grizzly Bears Eat Humans?

To Protect Their Cub

In most cases, a grizzly bear would avoid human beings as much as possible. 

But they can also attack us when we come too close to their young ones. As a result, a grizzly may accidentally eat human flesh just to defend its cubs.

This is predominant with female grizzly bears. They care so much about their babies and wouldn’t mind risking their lives!

When They Don’t Find Food

Naturally, grizzly bears prefer to eat fruits, grasses, salmon, and other lower animals. 

But when they can’t find any of these to eat, they might settle for human meat to avoid starvation.

Grizzly bears are opportunistic when it involves feeding. Thus, they take advantage of any slightest food source they can access.

For Self-Defense

The grizzly bear is a powerful and fearless animal with physical features to protect itself. 

It doesn’t get terrified by attacks from other apex predators or humans, it will always fight back to defend itself whenever confronted.

What Body Part Would a Grizzly Bear Eat First on a Human?

Two grizzly bears eating a dead human body.
Credit to Kristen A. Schmitt

A grizzly bear kills humans by biting them on the neck, and back, or using its long paws to strike them.

When it is done killing, it starts eating the dead body from the chest region down to the hip. 

After that, It proceeds to the human’s internal organs like the intestine, bladder, guts, rectum, etc. 

Sometimes if the grizzly bear gets tired of eating the meat, it will preserve the remaining parts by digging up the soil to bury it where no other animal can find it.

Are There Reports About Bears Eating Humans?

There have been several incidents of bear attacks, both on camping sites and outside. Here are a few reports from the past.

The Death Of Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell was well known in Alaska as the friend of grizzly bears because of his love and obsession for the creature.

He kept making publicity of his timeout and interactions with the animal, thus it brought him so much fame.

Timothy was featured on TV shows and magazines as a grizzly bear friend and protector. Though he did not have expertise in wildlife, he did not stop seeing them as pets.

October 5, 2003, was the end of Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard (his girlfriend). Shockingly, they were killed and eaten by a hungry grizzly bear after they were playing and filming with it.

Glacier Night Of Grizzlies

This grizzly bear attack happened on the 12th of August, 1967, in the Glacier National Park of  Montana.

Two female workers in the park between the age of 19 – 20 were attacked and killed at different times by a grizzly bear. 

Unknown to them, these bears had been seen a few weeks ago foraging at night. 

They come out near campsites and lodges and are drawn to leftover foods by careless campers.

The girls went hiking overnight with their friends. Unfortunately, a hungry grizzly bear sighted them, killed and ate them before they could call out for help. 

The Sankebetsu (Japan) Bear Attack

This is recorded as the worst bear attack since the creation of Japan. 

In December 1915, a brown bear of about 9ft in height and 750 Ibs in weight woke from hibernation, going after and killing people in their houses.

The starving and aggressive bear visited each day for 6 days and killed a total of 7 persons including a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

The federal security squad was called in to kill the bear but they were unable to do so after several gunshots. Finally, it was bear hunters that killed it.

How to Avoid Being Eaten By Grizzly

Before you go hiking and camping, you must know what to do when you encounter a grizzly bear.

In such an incident, the first thing that comes to your mind is running. 

However, it is not advisable to run because the bear can perceive you as a threat and begin to pursue you.

Here’s an expert guideline to maximize your chances of surviving when you encounter a grizzly bear.

  1. Keep your distance from the bear, avoid making eye contact and then stand still.
  2. If you mistakenly make a sound and it turns, don’t shake, hold your ground because you cannot outrun the grizzly bear even if you decide to run.
  3. Don’t yell or scream, do your best to make the bear understand that you are a person and not a threat.
  4. You can wave your hands for it to notice you.
  5. Also, you can use pepper spray on the grizzly bear if you have it on you in case it tries to attack you.
  6. However, if that tactic did not work, roll up into a ball or lie flat on your tummy. Keep quiet and don’t make any sound while doing this.
  7. Maintain the quietness and that position until the bear has left the area. 
  8. Additionally, be sure it has left the area before you stand up to shout for help.

Do Grizzly Bears Like The Taste Of Humans?

No, grizzly bears do not like the taste of human meat.

This is because it is not their primary diet, and they only eat it when they are pretty starving or trying to defend themselves and their cub.

Aside from these situations, they shy away from human beings knowing they can kill them.

Final Thoughts

To recap, grizzly bears do not eat humans because it’s not on their diet. In addition, the chances of a bear eating a human is very low.

However, the following can trigger the bears to do this:

  • self-defense, 
  • intense hunger
  • protecting their cubs.

Many news of bear attacks have been reported, hence the reason why this article has explained ‘what should you do when you encounter a grizzly bear.

Read our article ‘’Do Grizzly Bears Eat Meat’’ to know more.