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 in Advocacy, Polar bear attacks, Sea ice habitat
Tagged attack, dangerous, fatal, polar bear, problem bears, sea ice, subadult, Svalbard, tragedy
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.
Posted in Polar bear attacks, Sea ice habitat
Tagged attack, dangerous, invasion, Labrador, polar bear, safety, sea ice, sighting, St. Lewis, threat, winter
More ‘bears on shore’ news today, this time involving a young polar bear that came ashore in the village of Puvirnituq, northern Quebec and was shot for safety reasons by a local hunter.
This incident is reminiscent of one last year a bit further north (Ivujivik) in early March, which I reported here. Both involved young bears from the large and stable Foxe Basin subpopulation. As I’ve pointed out before, most bears in late winter are at their lowest weight and this can make them very dangerous if they come ashore looking for food.
But unlike the Ivujivik incident, was the first time a bear had ever come into the village of Puvirnituq, making it more like the visit in late February 2017 of a young female bear in Inukjuak further south along the coast, the first such visit of a polar bear to that community in more than 30 years.
The exception to lean condition in late winter being the norm are bears in the Davis Strait subpopulation that have harp seals to feed on by February and are often in good condition by early March, as was the bear reported ashore yesterday in Newfoundland.
Puvirnituq, northern Quebec. Polar bears in this region are part of the Foxe Basin subpopulation.
The news today came via an English language blog post that got an essential detail wrong1, so I turned to Google Translate to offer this version of the original, in French (Journal de Montreal, 7 March 2018):
As I’ve pointed out previously, polar bears are leanest – and thus, hungriest and potentially the most dangerous to humans – at the end of winter (i.e. March).
That is why the unexpected prospect of hundreds of lean and hungry polar bears coming ashore in early March hunting available human prey would be a truly terrifying and daunting experience. Such a speculative scenario stands in marked contrast to an actual incident in July that involved a single well-fed bear that attacked a man asleep in a tent because he and his companions had chosen to dismiss the known risk.
Any predatory attack by a polar bear is terrifying but which is potentially the more deadly? One you can reasonably expect (and thus prepare for) or one that comes out of the blue and catches everyone unprepared?
Posted in Book review, Life History, Polar bear attacks
Tagged attacks, battle between man, beast and Nature, bears starve, climate change, dangerous, Davis Strait, deadly, Eaten, facts, Fogo Island, global warming, harrowing encounter, hungry polar bear attacks, ice melts, March, Meltdown, Newfoundland, novel, polar bear, predatory, scary, sea ice, speculative fiction, spring