You somehow got between a surly old she-bear and her cubs. What do you do?

Well, for starters, know that it could be worse. You could be staring down a hungry young boar.

That’s one conclusion of a century’s worth of fatal bear attacks, reported today in Toronto’s Globe and Mail. Investigators with the University of Calgary, Brigham Young University and the Massachusetts Fish and Game studied 59 fatal black bear incidents across North America from 1900 to 2009 and arrived at these surprising findings:

  • The most common aggressor is a lone male bear, not a sow with cubs. Only 8 percent of attacks were attributed to mama bears.

  • Food availability seems to be a determining factor in black bear attacks. In years of poor berry crops, incidents of aggressive bears nearly double.

  • Attractive nuisances can result in fatal bear attacks. The study revealed that improperly stored food or garbage was a likely attractant in over a third of the fatalities.

  • Pepper spray was not deployed in any of the 63 fatalities. Whether or not it might have deterred the attack wasn’t investigated, but it’s a good guess that man of the victims had no warning of the attack.

  • In nearly 90 percent of the fatal attacks, the victim was either alone or with only one other person.

  • Nearly 60 percent of the fatalities occurred in Canada. This proves a point that I’ve suspected for years: Canadians have better taste than Yankees. Eh?

Photo: Styro