How Often Do Grizzly Bear Attacks Happen in Banff National Park?

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: October 11, 2023
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The grizzly bear is one of the most iconic animals in Banff National Park. They love to eat, but they also love to share their food with others. It’s not uncommon for them to invite other animals over for dinner. They’ve been known to invite deer, elk, moose — even wolves! If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these bears in person (and we hope you do!), please remember that these animals are wild and should be treated with respect. If you see one eating or sharing their food with another animal, do not approach them or try to take photos without permission from Parks Canada officials.

Bear attacks in bear countries can be inevitable, especially given that human settlements are now expanding into their territories. This leaves us with the question: how often do grizzly bear attacks happen in Banff National Park? 

Background on Grizzly Bears

grizzly bear

Grizzly bears can grow up to six and a half feet long and weigh up to 900 pounds.

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Grizzly bears are enormous creatures known to have a huge appetite and an even bigger heart. They can grow up to six and a half feet long and weigh up to 900 pounds. They are excellent swimmers and can be found in almost any habitat, including mountains, forests, and tundra. Their diet consists mostly of meat, but they will also eat berries and plants if they need to supplement their food supply.

How Often Do Grizzly Bear Attacks Occur in Banff National Park?

The Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, has been home to grizzly bears for over 100 years. The bears live in the park year-round and are known to be friendly and non-aggressive toward humans. However, in 2022, there was a spike in grizzly bear attacks on humans in Banff, resulting in one fatality and three injured people.

The attacks made some people question how safe it is to visit Banff National Park. However, many people have visited the park since then — and so far, there have been no incidents involving grizzly bears attacking humans.

How Dangerous Are Grizzly Bears?

North American grizzly bear

Grizzly bears are dangerous.

©Dennis W Donohue/

Though not every bear poses a threat, you should take precautions to avoid them. Grizzly bears are dangerous animals, especially if you get too close. Not only are they stronger than humans, but their bites are so strong (975 PSI) that they can split your body in two in a matter of seconds. They won’t attack unless they are angry or surprised. Female grizzly bears will immediately attack you if they think their cubs are in danger.

Do Grizzly Bears Eat Humans?

While not included in their primary food source, grizzlies are among the species that are likely to hunt and eat humans. Fortunately, this happens very rarely. 

Grizzly bears have been known to attack humans on occasion. Although attacks are rare, the danger of being mauled by one of these powerful predators is very real. These bears are generally less aggressive than black bears, and they rarely attack humans unless they feel threatened or provoked. However, if you encounter a bear in the wild that appears agitated or aggressive, it is best to leave the area as quickly as possible. If you encounter a grizzly bear in the wild, stay calm and do not run away. Make sure it knows you’re there by talking loudly or singing at it. If possible, move away slowly without turning your back on the bear or making any sudden movements that might startle it into attacking you.

When Is the Best Time to See Bears in Banff?

Bears are most active in the morning, early evening, and at night. The best time of day to see grizzly bears is in the late afternoon when they come down from higher elevations to feed on alpine vegetation.

They may also be seen feeding on berry bushes or digging for roots during this period. If you’re lucky enough to encounter a black bear, you’ll likely see one during daylight hours as they forage for food.

What Do Grizzly Bears Eat?

What Do Grizzly Bears Eat
As omnivores, grizzly bears include plants, insects, small mammals, and fish in their diet.

Grizzly bears are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals, having a varied diet that includes berries, plants, insects, and small mammals. They eat army cutworm moths, whitebark pine nuts, ungulates, and cutthroat trout the most. These items provide the most nutrition for the least amount of hunting time. Grizzly bears’ diets change yearly because some foods aren’t always available.

These bears are opportunistic eaters. They will eat about anything they can find, including plants, grasses, and berries. They also love salmon during their spawning season. The animals that grizzly bears typically consume include moose, elk, deer, small mammals such as beavers and porcupines, and fish.

Bears also eat mushrooms, deer carcasses, and even garbage if they can find it.

How to Avoid Grizzly Bear Attacks

Communities in the grizzly bear territory have developed bear awareness programs to educate the public and reduce the likelihood of encounters with black bears as well as grizzly bears. The primary goal of these initiatives is to instruct people on how to properly store and prepare goods that would attract bears.

These programs also teach people how to react in the event that they encounter a bear, as well as what actions should be taken if one is hit by a car. Bear awareness campaigns encourage people to take precautions against bears, such as properly securing rubbish, picking fruit at the peak of ripeness, keeping livestock behind electric fences, and bringing pet food indoors.

You can also be safe from attacks as long as you follow some simple rules:

– Don’t hike alone.

– Hike in groups of four or more people and make noise while hiking.

– Make sure you have bear spray and know how to use it before going on any hikes.

– Look for signs of bears, such as scat or tracks, before entering their territory.

– Do not approach a bear.

– If you see one, slowly back away and leave the area.

– Never turn your back on a bear or run from it; this will encourage it to chase you.

What Wild Animals Can a Human Defeat Barehanded?

Grizzly in Water

In polls, the general consensus is that humans feel the least confident in fighting a grizzly bear barehanded.

©Jack Nevitt/

As we’ve discussed, grizzly bear attacks are not very common, however, the grizzly bear is a fearsome foe for a human to encounter. But how likely is a human to defeat a grizzly bear in an encounter? Or, what other wild animals could a human triumph over in hand-to-hand (or paw) combat? People don’t like to purposely put themselves in harm’s way, as our instinct, just like wild animals, is survival. While gladiators put themselves in jeopardy by battling wild animals in ancient times, we modern-day folks can only imagine what animals we think we could beat out.

An interesting poll was taken of Americans by YouGov asking them what animals they believed they could beat in a fight. The results were as follows:

As you can see, grizzly bears are the lowest on the list of animals humans believe they can conquer in a fight. The number one animal most Americans think they can defeat is a rat! Ha! Also, “house cat” is an interesting label, as it leaves out feral cats. Those poor domestic kitties!

While people, especially men, enjoy imagining what wild animals they could kill barehanded, we’d like to give props to Travis Kaufman, a Colorado jogger who was attacked by a mountain lion while jogging and actually killed the animal with his bare hands! The attack happened in 2019, and his battle made national news. We now know that it is possible for a human to kill a mountain lion with his bare hands. Amazing!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Scott E Read/

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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