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Half of the large carnivore attacks are due to the imprudence of human behavior

The study recommends to educate about risks and follow some rules of coexisting that allow humans to enjoy nature without being hurt or affecting the health of animals

Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

"To go running when is dark, leaving children unattended in carnivore zones, approaching a female with young, approaching wounded animal in hunting and walking with an unleashed dog along the said areas, are the main causes of the attacks" explain the CSIC researcher Vincenzo Pentariani, Doñana Biological Station.

According to the study, after decades of minimal interaction between humans and large carnivores in many regions of developed countries, many people involved in outdoor activities may lack knowledge about how to avoid risky encounters with large carnivores and what to do when such encounters occur. "For this reason, the attacks can decrease a lot if we learn how to act when we are in nature. It is not to limit the access to public in large carnivore's areas or, as we made in the past, pursuing them, it is to coexist with them. We can't go out into the countryside as we go to "the shopping center", the researcher adds.

To avoid these attacks, the authors of the article recommend to inform and educate about real risks and respect some basic rules when we visit zones where large carnivore inhabits, for example, avoid to go alone at night, attend children, try to go in groups and do not try to approach wild animals.

The case of Spain

In spite of the increase of human visits to large carnivores habitat, specifies the study, the encounters with large carnivores that result in attacks are not frequent in documented countries (700 along 60 years). In the case of Spain, in the last 40 years have been registered only 38 cases of attacks of brown bears in Cantabrian Mountains, and in none of them we have identified abusive or depravity behaviors on the part of bears.

"All the cases can be attributed to a defensive behavior as an answer for approaching a female with young and other stress factors, like walking with an unleashed dog or that the bear were previously hurt, could cause a defensive answer", Penteriani concludes.


Vincenzo Penteriani, María del Mar Delgado, Francesco Pinchera, Javier Naves, Fernández-Gil Alberto, Ilpo Kojola, Sauli Härkönen, Harri Norberg, Jens Frank, José María Fedriani, Veronica Sahlén, Ole-Gunnar Støen, Jon E. Swenson, Petter Wabakken, Mario Pellegrini, Stephen Herrero & José Vicente López-Bao. Human behaviour can trigger large carnivore attacks in developed countries. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep20552.

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