What’s More Likely to Get You? A Bear or a Vending Machine? The Answer May Surprise You
By Matthew Carroll
While admittedly most of us would like to think we could easily wrestle a black bear in a one-on-one fight, the reality is most people exhibit a borderline irrational fear of the great animals. There are many theories online that suggest what to do if you come across a black bear. Some suggest making a lot of noise, some suggest making yourself appear larger, and others suggest lying on the ground and playing dead. Much of that does depend on what type of bear you encounter: black or grizzly. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll look at just black bear encounters.
And at least with a black bear, you typically have options.
If you happen to be one of the 2.18 annual victims of falling vending machines, what are you really going to do? Vending machines, unlike bears, are deceitful because they often lure their victims into thinking that they are getting a salty snack, when in reality they are getting served 900 pounds of unrelenting gravity.
Black bears have resulted in the deaths of approximately 60 people in North America…since 1900. Some quick math will tell you that this is less than one casualty a year. It’s important to keep in mind that in many of these scenarios, the bear acted defensively to a person who was displaying inappropriate conduct towards the animal. Often times, the victim of an attack forgets that a bear is wildlife and attempts to approach the bear the way one might approach a dog at the park. Should the bear then feel unsafe, or that its cubs are in danger, then the bear might respond with violence.
Compare this to the 37 victims who died from falling vending machines just between the years 1978 and 1995 and there is a higher statistical likelihood that you will fall victim to a falling vending machine. Again, to be fair, in many cases, it was the misuse of the vending machine that resulted in tragedy–much as it is often the misconduct of outdoor recreationists that results in bear attacks.
The takeaway lesson from this is to be careful around both vending machines and black bears. However, if you had to let your guard down around one, all we are saying is that more people are victims of vending machines than bears. Do what you will with this information.