If Sasquatch do indeed exist, then they are going to come across bears. It is inevitable. So what happens when these two goliaths meet? How do they interact with each other? To me this is a serious question for which the answer seems poorly understood and documented. Do Bigfoot and bears mostly avoid each other, ignore each other, fear each other, or become aggressive? It seems that according to some accounts these encounters can occasionally erupt into epic battles between these heavyweight powerhouses of the wild. While there is little good documentation on interactions between bears and Bigfoot, if these reports are anything to go by it does seem apparent that they are at least not above a good scrap from time to time, and the few such cases there are can perhaps offer us some fascinating insights into how Bigfoot and bears might regard each other, as well as their effect upon each other within their shared domain. Let’s take a look.
It seems that if Bigfoot are indeed real, then their shared habitat with bears would invariably lead to encounters between the two, and these seem to have the potential to perhaps turn violent under the right circumstances. Although there are a few reports that seem to suggest that the two creatures typically mostly avoid each other and that bears will even flee from an approaching Bigfoot, there are a variety of reasons for why they might come to blows. It may be over territory, protecting their young, or perhaps friction due to dwindling habitats. If the two species share similar diets, violent encounters may erupt over competition for dwindling food resources as well. It could even be something as simple as one being startled by the other and going into aggressive mode.
So, if for the sake of this discussion we were to for a moment forget the debate about whether they are real or not and assume that Bigfoot do exist, and recognize that there could be instances where they might fight with bears, then how do the two stack up physically? I tend to think that black bears would be too small to really pose much threat to a Bigfoot, so for this article I am focusing on the more physically imposing brown bears and grizzlies. In one corner you have the brown bear, with an average length for an adult male being around 198 cm (6.50 ft) in length and weighing 180–360 kg (400–790 lb), but with exceptionally large individuals attaining heights of 3 meters (9.8 ft) standing on their hind legs and a massive 680 kg (1,500 lb). With their formidable sharp teeth and claws, a brown bear or grizzly bear is a frightening force to be reckoned with. In the other corner you have the Bigfoot, which allegedly reaches typical reported heights of 8 to 10 feet tall and probably weighs somewhere around 800 pounds or more. While they may lack the prominent claws of bears, there can be no doubt that Bigfoot would be extremely powerful creatures and could make up for this with their presumably superior intelligence. All things considered, it seems like a fairly even match physically.
Of course, even if we assume Sasquatch are real, that they might have reason to fight with bears, and that they are physical matches for each other, we are left with the question of whether there are any reported instances of these two hulking brutes actually engaging in combat. Although not particularly common, there are indeed some accounts of Bigfoot fighting bears. One report from Bigfoot Encounters describes the experience of a J.G. Wells, who was out hunting for brown bear in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. The hunter had been tracking a very large bear described as being an impressively muscular and blocky specimen measuring 9’10” in length and weighing an estimated 1,400 lbs. across the remote wilderness for 4 days when he and his hunting companions came across a rather unusual sight. At an area near a creek which was overrun with strawberry bushes there was evidence that a furious fight had taken place between two very large creatures, with snapped or leveled saplings, thrashed bushes, and scattered tufts and clumps of fur everywhere. The scene was described by the hunter as looking as if “2 bulldozers had gone at each other.” The hunters at first presumed that the bear they had been hunting had gotten into a territorial confrontation with another bear, and they continued to track their quarry.
The following day, the hunters finally came across the bear hiding in a deep thicket, but it was behaving quite strangely, moving slowly and erratically. The hunter did what he was there to do and shot the great beast, and it was upon inspection of the carcass that things took a turn for the bizarre. The bear exhibited horrific wounds that, while not fatal, suggested that the bear had been beaten up pretty badly. Additionally, the wounds themselves were very unusual for a bear fight, with huge tracts of fur pulled out along the stomach and chest, as well as claw marks on the chest, and bite marks on the back of the neck and shoulders, as if something very powerful had grabbed it from behind, wrapped arms around the bear, and fiercely bitten it. It at first was assumed that it may have been attacked by a tiger, as in Siberia it is not unheard of for brown bears to have altercations with Siberian tigers, and the tigers are even known to actively hunt the bears from time to time, but other details seemed to defy this idea. For one, the five claw marks were too wide and shallow to be those of a tiger, and one seemed to be in an opposable thumb position. Additionally the missing patches of hair seemed to have been pulled out as if by a large hand, and neither a tiger nor another bear would have been able to grab chunks of hair to yank out like that. The bite marks were also found to be quite round and “molar-like,” and were in a wide, horseshoe shaped arrangement more similar to that of a human or ape than the narrower and pointier pattern of a bear or tiger.
On top of everything else, the bear was described as having an extremely odd, overpoweringly foul stench exuding from its back that was not typical and which the two avid bear hunters had never experienced. Although wild bears don’t smell particularly nice at the best of times, this odor was allegedly something different and on a whole other level of revolting. The potent, cringe inducing odor was described as smelling like “week-old napalmed water buffalo and wolverine stink.” After a close inspection of the unusual wounds, including skinning the bear and observing the underlying tissue damage, the experienced hunters could not explain what could have possibly attacked it. It was then that one of the local guides came forward claiming to have actually witnessed what had happened.
The guide claimed that the bear had come up to the strawberry bushes and startled a family group of Bigfoot consisting of a big male described as 9’ tall and around 800 lbs., a smaller female, and a juvenile as they were feeding. It was then that the big male Bigfoot had allegedly rushed to clash with the bear without hesitation as the female and youngster fled to a safe place. According to the guide, during the brief but violent encounter, the infuriated male Bigfoot had lashed out at the bear with its hands and stunned it before grabbing it from behind and inflicting a series of vicious bites to neck and shoulders. The bear had then managed to shake the Bigfoot off and proceeded to deliver several ferocious paw swats, as well as a serious bite to its thigh, after which the two wounded beasts both retreated in opposite directions. The locals also claimed that such fights were quite rare but did happen from time to time, especially when the two creatures surprised each other. When the hunter suggested that they track down the wounded Sasquatch and its family, the local guides all adamantly refused to go after what they saw as a wounded, angry, protective, and extremely dangerous creature.
There are other reports of bear versus Sasquatch where the confrontation was not directly seen, but rather implied. In one 2004 report from Clallam County, Washington, the eyewitness, a Rodney Frank Williams, had been in the process of having his house painted when his two daughters told him that they had heard a loud, eerie sound emanating from the forest behind their home which sounded, as one of the girls put it, “like a combination of a whale and a dinosaur.” The following day, on October 12, 2004, one of the house painters reported that two of the surveyors working on the edge of the property had been terrified by loud, vicious growling from the woods which one of them had said sounded like two bears having “one hell of a fight.” It was also claimed that a foul smell was pervading the area and that the surveyors were deeply unsettled by the incident. Williams decided to take his dog out to inspect the general vicinity of the alleged sounds and immediately noticed the rotten stench permeating the woods but could find no sign of garbage, a animal carcass, or anything else that could possibly account for it.
Two days later, when the surveyors returned to work, Williams questioned them about the incident. They claimed that during the whole fight there had been that terrible smell hanging in the air, and that the apparent confrontation had been so violent that a fir tree had been seen to “shake like a twig” from something heavy smashing into it. One of the surveyors claimed that after the fight, one of the creatures, whatever it was, had headed south across the road towards Olympic Mountain in a big hurry, crashing loudly through underbrush as it went although he didn’t get a good look at it. When the surveyors took Williams to the site of where they claimed the fight had taken place, they flat out refused to enter the area without a gun, and Williams went into the brush by himself. The ground and brush there was found to be torn up pretty bad, indicating something big had indeed been fighting there, and it was also noted that several branches had been snapped off of a large fir tree which were so high up that the 6’1” Williams was unable to reach them. An examination of the forest floor turned up a partial footprint that seemed human-like with a clear big toe and reportedly measuring about 15 inches long, 4 inches wide at the heal, and 5 1/2 to 6 inches wide at the top.
As Williams ventured deeper into the forest to an open area nearby, he found more definite similarly sized humanoid prints which had toes that seemed to curl into the wet dirt. Interestingly, there were also bear tracks found, as well as fur from what appeared to be a lynx or cougar pressed down into the forest floor, although whether these had anything to do with the incident or not is anyone’s guess. The strange, haunting vocalizations would continue for several more nights after the incident. Williams later researched recordings of alleged Sasquatch vocalizations and he and his daughters said that what they had heard sounded exactly like a “whooing” sound recorded by Dave Clevlan in a 1972 Bigfoot sighting in Estacada, Oregon.
It seems that this case suggests a few possibilities. Either it really was just two bears fighting as the surveyors originally thought, a bear fighting a cougar or lynx as is suggested by the hair found, a Bigfoot fighting a bear or a cougar, or two Bigfoot fighting each other. The problem here is that there is no real conclusive evidence that really points concretely towards any one of these scenarios in particular. The humanoid prints could have been those of a large bow hunter, and even Williams himself at one point suggested this as it was bow hunting season at the time, although it does not explain why a bow hunter would be walking around in the woods barefoot. The bear tracks and cougar fur could have been left at any time and there is no way of knowing if they have anything to do with the reported fight. The shaking fir tree could have been caused by two large bears fighting each other and the broken branches could have been anything. The overwhelming bad smell and the vocalizations are interesting details, but since no one recorded the sounds, we have no way of analyzing them to deduce what they could have been and so it remains intriguing but ultimately circumstantial evidence. Whatever happened here, it sure does fire up the imagination, though.
If these isolated epic battles between possible Sasquatch and bears are impressive enough, it’s perhaps even more so that at least one researcher in Russia claims that the two powerful species are actually locked in a veritable war with each other for food resources. In the Voice of Russia, Oct. 12, 2010, it was reported that the director of the International Center for Hominology, Igor Burtsev, had asserted that there was evidence that what he called Yeti were moving into the Mountain Shoria region of the Siberian taiga in the Kuznetsk region of Russia after mounting an expedition into the area. Some of the evidence claimed to be of Yeti was giant footprints, sightings of the beasts, and strange pyramidal structures made of branches allegedly up to 3 or 4 meters high and supposedly used by Yeti to mark their territory. The expedition also made the claim that the Yeti had likely been driven from their remote home in the Altai region and deep into bear territory by forest fires and an extremely hot 2010 summer, which also incidentally had led to a food shortage for bears in the region. Burtsev alleged that his team had found evidence that the Yeti and bears of the area were engaging in violent fights for supremacy with each other over food resources, although it is unclear how they came to this conclusion. Nevertheless, it was also claimed that the Yeti had the upper hand, and were dominating the bears in this struggle. Burtsev told the Voice of Russia:
It seems that today yetis in Siberia are competing with bears, and the yetis are winning – they are obviously stronger and have rudimentary intellect. If this "war" between yetis and bears continues, there is a risk that bears will not sleep this winter because of a shortage of food, instead going to villages in search of something to eat.
Indeed, bears have been reported to be becoming increasingly malnourished and bold in the region, with the animals venturing into towns to rummage through trash or destroy crops, and it was reported that there has been at least one human death at the hands of bears in the village of Vezhnya Tchova, located in the Komi Republic of Russia, in 2010. It is scary indeed, but whether the bears are really having a struggle for survival with Yeti is unclear, and it is also unknown just what kind of evidence Burstev found to lead him to the conclusion that the Yeti are having a heated war with bears in the first place. Regardless of the claim’s veracity, it’s hard to argue against the fact that it is a pretty cool notion and would probably make a good movie.
To me this is all more than a cool scenario, though. I think if Bigfoot is real, and if it is a flesh and blood creature, then how they interact with other large species in their habitat, such as bears, and how they affect each other is a serious, legitimate area of inquiry that I feel is largely ignored in cryptozoology. Many of the remote forests of the world are already home to powerful beasts in the form of bears. However, what if Sasquatch are out there too? If Bigfoot exist, then invariably they do come across bears. In these situations how do these two large species view each other? Is it mostly with mutual respect, fear, indifference, disdain, or hatred? What is their relationship? Is the wild big enough for the both of them or do they sometimes clash for whatever reasons? If they do, then who has the upper hand, and how do these confrontations ultimately play out? Unfortunately, it is hard to get a good understanding of the interactions between bear and Bigfoot, as eyewitness accounts of these sorts of encounters are noticeably rare and we are for the most part forced to merely speculate about such things. Regardless of what the answers to these questions are, it certainly is intriguing to think about, and seems like an area of Bigfoot studies that I feel is sadly mostly overlooked.