Apparently, that’s a thing. Yeah. I know. I couldn’t believe it either when I heard it on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me during one of my long runs, so I had to google it. And my search bore fruit (albeit it must be some real fermented fruit); according to a study, six percent of Americans really do believe they have a chance against a 600-pound knives-for-claws 35-miles-per-hour fast animal that’s definitely not coming in for a friendly hug.
A YouGov survey pitched 34 animals, including humans, against each other in a hypothetical head-on-head combat and wouldn’t you believe it, the human egos are out there for our wilder cousins.
And grizzly bears shouldn’t be the only ones afraid, oh no. Apparently, eight percent of Americans would bet their lives on winning against lions, gorillas, and even elephants. My man, have you ever seen an elephant? Lions are scared of them. 12 percent believe they have a chance against a wolf and 14 percent would take on a kangaroo.
And I just wanna have a little talk with you here, okay? Come here. Real close. Let me whisper a little advice in your ear…
DO NOT FIGHT GRIZZLY BEARS!
(Or any of the other animals, for that matter.)
Actually, fighting is the very last thing you want to do if you’re trying to survive your encounter.
Let’s see what the National Park Service has to say about this. You know, the guys who definitely know a bit more about grizzly bears (and the wild in general) than the average American:
“If you are attacked by a brown/grizzly bear, leave your pack on and PLAY DEAD. Lay ﬂat on your stomach with your hands clasped behind your neck. Spread your legs to make it harder for the bear to turn you over. Remain still until the bear leaves the area. Fighting back usually increases the intensity of such attacks.”National Park Service
Yes, if the bear is really persistent on killing you even after you follow through with this, you should “fight back vigorously. Use whatever you have at hand to hit the bear in the face,” but let’s be honest, your chances of surviving are so close to zero you’d win the lottery six times before you win a fight against a grizzly bear. (That number is completely made up. It might be higher. It probably is. I tried to do the math but there wasn’t enough information on what percent of people who actively fought grizzly bears survived. I wonder why.)
You still think you could win a fight with a grizzly? Boy, do I have news for you.
While, yes, humans are the most ‘dangerous’ mammals out there, causing the death of roughly 635,000 people a year (source), you still shouldn’t test your luck with a grizzly, especially since grizzly and polar bears are the most dangerous of bears. A grizzly in Yellowstone literally ate a hiker (source); no bad feelings here man, you’re not following the park rules and I gotta feed the family somehow, I guess. (The bear had to be euthanized by the park to prevent further incidents.)
Grizzlies have a better sense of smell than dogs, are good swimmers and great runners, and are highly intelligent. They can stand 8 feet (2.5 meters) tall and weigh up to 800 pounds (360 kg). Not even Usain Bolt would outrun them at their 35 mph (55 km/h), let alone you, on uneven ground. And if you think your concealed carry will help you, here’s a huge nope for you. A handgun will only enrage the bear further. It might cause its death eventually; and a slow and painful one at that — but it won’t save your life and will only cause suffering.
So, please. I can’t believe I have to say this but don’t fight bears. Unless, you know, you’re literally about to die because the techniques discussed above didn’t work.
(Also, I can’t not elude back to elephants. They kill between 100 and 500 people a year, and not all those are intentional — a lot of times, they just step on people when they get in the way while the elephant is panicked and running away. And if it can kill you so easily when not even trying, how can you think you’ve got any chance at all at fighting it?!)
That’s all from me today. I’m gonna go and keep facepalming because… How can six whole percent of Americans think they’d stand a chance against a grizzly bear?!