Posted onMarch 2, 2021|Comments Off on Polar bear attack in Svalbard: victim survives, polar bear does not
A man was attacked from behind this morning by a small male polar bear on the east coast of Svalbard, Norway, where there is abundant sea ice. His companion shot the bear and the victim escaped with minor head injuries. Most bears are very hungry at this time of year because the seal pupping season has not yet begun.
Young bears are extremely dangerous and the most likely to attack people (Crockford 2019; Wilder et al. 2017): a three year old male fatally attacked a camper in August 2020 just outside Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an incident unfairly blamed on lack of sea ice (Crockford 2021).
UPDATE 3 March 2021:Results of an autopsy conducted on the polar bear killed yesterday revealed it was a 6 year old male that weighed only 231 kg, which is less than usual for an adult bear later in the season but likely typical for a relatively young bear at the end of winter before seal pups are born. See quote from a Norwegian polar bear specialist below [my bold]:
Jon Aars, an institute researcher who has spent many years studying bears in Svalbard, told Svalbardposten the vast majority of bears ages six to 15 will weigh between 350 and 450 kilograms in April, when the spring hunting season is typically at its peak.
“It may have been aggressive because it was thin,” he said. “It is likely. The thinner they are, the greater the chance that they are dangerous. He is at an age where he is not frequently considered as a problem bear – it is mostly among the younger or the very old who have problems.”
Posted onOctober 20, 2020|Comments Off on Ten fat polar bears filmed raiding a stalled Russian garbage truck
From the Siberian Times today (20 October) is a story with few facts but a fabulous video of six fat adults and four fat cubs as they set siege to a stalled open garbage truck in the Russian Arctic. It may have been filmed on Novaya Zemlya but that has not been confirmed.
Posted onOctober 1, 2020|Comments Off on Polar bear damage to parked military helicopter shows their immense power
A polar bear punched out the window of a parked Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue helicopter on 16 September in northern Labrador, which should be a reminder that these bears are extremely powerful and potentially dangerous.
If you ever thought you would be safe in a cabin or vehicle if a polar bear really wanted in, you might want to think again and remember that residents of the Arctic put up with this risk of polar bear attack, intrusion and damage all year long (Crockford 2019). And it’s not because the bears are simply ‘curious’.
Two photos below from Svalbard: of a bear that climbed onboard a boat moored offshore in 2019 while its occupants had lunch on the beach (damaging the hydraulic steering, vinyl seats, heating system, canopy, and an inflatable raft), and of a cabin ransacked by a polar bear in 2017 after it ripped the door off its hinges. Since it is my understanding that cabin owners in Svalbard are not permitted to leave stored food in unoccupied buildings, the attractants in these empty cabins must be other things that contain oil, like cleaning products, vinyl furniture, and candles.
Posted onSeptember 5, 2020|Comments Off on Criminal charges dropped in case of polar bear shot by cruise ship guards in 2018
The guards from a cruise ship who shot an emaciated bear in self-defense in late July 2018 on the remote island of Phippsøya in northern Svalbard have had criminal charges against them dropped. It is illegal to kill polar bears in Norway, so the death of the bear automatically triggered a criminal investigation.
This case, which made international headlines and sparked outrage at the time, also saw charges laid against the cruise ship that employed the guards. However, all charges against the company have also been dropped. See below for details on the decision and my post about the incident in 2018. No information on the condition of the bear was included in the statement about criminal charges.
Posted onAugust 28, 2020|Comments Off on Fatal polar bear attack in Svalbard unfairly blamed on lack of sea ice
A fatal polar bear attack in Svalbard, in the early hours of 28 August 2020 just outside the main town of Longyearbyen, is being unreasonably blamed on lack of sea ice. Details of the attack show it was made by a three year old male: such subadult bears are historically responsible for most attacks on people and they are known to be especially dangerous. It looks to me like someone should have seen this tragedy coming and stepped in to prevent it.
I will update this story as more information comes in but see below for the details known so far.
Posted onMarch 29, 2020|Comments Off on Svalbard finds tranquilizing & removing problem polar bears comes with risks to bears
In Svalbard, Norway, it is routine practice to chase polar bears away from settlements with snow machines and helicopters, then tranquilize and relocate them if necessary but in late January this approach led to the death of a young male bear.
Necropsy results released 26 March 2020 revealed that the two year old bear, who had wandered into and around Longyearbyen multiple times in late January, was captured after a prolonged helicopter chase but died enroute as it was flown north to Nordaustlandet (see map below) from circulatory failure due to administering anesthesia after the prolonged stress of being chased.
Posted onJanuary 2, 2020|Comments Off on Fat adult polar bear shot in Svalbard New Years Eve after persistent visits to Longyearbyen
Another rare winter visit by a polar bear on New Year’s Eve, this time in Svalbard, comes with far more detail than the sighting in Newfoundland that I wrote about yesterday.
The Svalbard problem bear was shot over safety concerns after repeated visits to the downtown streets of the main town of Longyearbyen on the west coast (see map below). Neither of the reports bothered to mention that this was not a starving juvenile bear but a fat, healthy young adult – and no one blamed global warming for the incident because Svalbard has had extensive ice on the west coast this fall for the first time since 2010. The shooting of course sparked an outburst of social media outrage.
UPDATED 16 January 2020: As I predicted would happen (see below), there has been another polar bear incident about 10 km outside of Longyearbyen in Bolterdalen. On Wednesday 15 January, a bear attacked a dogteam loaded with tourists near the end of their trip. The bear was advancing so fast there was no time for the driver to grab his rifle, so he used the heavy rope used to brake the sled to hit the bear across the muzzle several times. This stopped the attack and made the bear run off. Svalbard officials are now chasing the bear well out of the area. From this report:
“Starinsky, a guide for Green Dog Svalbard, located about 10 kilometers east of Longyearbyen, told the newspaper there was no time to grab his rifle as they stopped the sleds within seconds, and the bear got within yards of a sled carrying a mother and her daughter. He grabbed “the first and best” thing he could think of – the noose-shaped brake rope hanging on the front of his sled.”
It turns out the bear’s tracks were spotted the day before just south of town. All that remains of the attack are the tracks of the bear near the dog kennel, below, and the nightmares of the people involved in the days ahead. They were very lucky indeed.
Posted onSeptember 13, 2019|Comments Off on Polar bear at a walrus haulout with cliffs in Russia: Netflix scenario all over again?
In the news this morning is a report out of Russia that a team from WWF and a Russian documentary film crew were approached from the top of the cliff by a polar bear – at what looks suspiciously like the steepest part of the same Chukotka cliff that the infamous Netflix ‘Our Planet’ walrus video was filmed in 2017. The Netflix crew insisted that no polar bears were around when the walrus deaths occurred, despite strong evidence to the contrary (including a polar bear shown in the final seconds of the film!)
Is the cliff above the same one we saw last year as walrus fell to a gruesome death on the rocks below, falsely blamed on lack of sea ice? It is mid-September, the same time of year as the 2017 walrus footage was filmed by the joint Netflix/WWF crew – and surprise, surprise, it looks like WWF are taking other filmmakers back for more of the same.
Or have they found another location with the same features?
Here is the original WWF Behind the Scenes video from the Netflix incident:
Posted onApril 17, 2019|Comments Off on Fat polar bears causing trouble onshore in Labrador plus sightings in Newfoundland
What sounds like a mother and half-grown cub paid a visit to a cabin outside Black Tickle, Labrador and frightened the residents trapped inside. The aggressive female was part of at least 10 bears seen around the community on 14 April 2019 and photos of one of them show a bear in excellent condition. A bear in good condition was also spotted on the north coast of Newfoundland over the weekend, delivered to land by sea ice that’s moving back into the area after winds blew it offshore last month.
Near Black Tickle Labrador, mid-April 2019. Carrie Dyson photo.
Posted onMarch 1, 2019|Comments Off on Polar bear prowling small Labrador town cut off by storm had authorities on high alert
From CBC News late yesterday (28 February 2019) comes the news that a polar bear seen skulking around the homes of a small coastal town in Labrador this week has had residents on edge and authorities on high alert. If tragedy struck, the St. Lewis road was blocked by snow and the only way in or out was by helicopter. Message: polar bears are highly dangerous and a bear prowling a community is a very real threat to safety.
This bear visited Black Tickle in Labrador a few years ago. Edwin Clark photo.
According to a CTV News follow-up, while the road to St. Lewis was cut off because of a recent snowstorm for most of the week, wildlife officers were able to get in today (Friday 1 March). Sighting about 100km north in Charlottetown earlier in the week are believed to be the same bear.
The last sighting of the animal was Thursday morning (28 Feb), so the bear may now have left of its own accord. No one seems to have captured a photo.
However, the fear felt by residents of St. Lewis (population 200) in this story is palpable, especially after the terrifying visuals from the well-publicized invasion by more than 50 polar bears at Belushaya Guba on Novaya Zemlya last month.
St. Lewis is located at the red marker; Charlottetown is the third town to the north. Both are just north of the Strait of Belle Isle that separates Labrador from the island of Newfoundland.