Tuesday, March 30, 2021

News You Can Use: What To Do If You Meet A Polar Bear

The thing to remember is: polar bears are stone cold killers. It's what they do.

From the New York Post, August 29, 2020:

Get naked, and other advice to fend off a polar bear attack 

The other day, a polar bear killed a 38-year-old Dutch man who was camping in Norway’s remote Svalbard Islands.

Now, many of us wouldn’t consider camping in Svalbard, but more of us are going to islands. In the past five years, the area has had a spike in “arctic tourism” as we rush to see the polar bears and ice caps before they disappear forever.

Polar bear tours in places like Churchill, Canada, are kitted out with mobile viewing units that look like elongated tanks, but there are still many places where tourists and locals can — and do — accidentally come face-to-face with the bears that may look cuddly — but are deadly.

I have been to the Arctic four times — in Greenland and Canada — and each time the warning is the same: Stay away from bears. However, should you run into one, there are three things you can do to protect yourself.

  1. Mace. Three years ago, during a Vintage Air Rally across the Arctic, I visited the abandoned Air Force base Bluie East Two on Greenland’s rugged East Coast. While walking around, I had to carry bear spray, which is mace for bears. According to several Air Greenland pilots I talked to beforehand, the spray does work; however, when you spray you have to be close and upwind, otherwise “it doesn’t go so well.”
  2. Gun. Always carry a gun — or travel with someone who has a firearm. While no one wants to kill a polar bear, you might have to if you want to save your own life. Sick and desperate bears are the ones that often come close to humans. During the air rally, I spent the night in Kulusuk. The day after we left, a half-starved polar bear wandered into town and had to be shot at close range, to save several school children nearby.
  3. Get Naked. There is no way you can outrun a polar bear. But they are, according to word of mouth, easily distractible. “Polar bears are very curious,” Sarah Woodall, a tourism destination manager for Visit South Greenland told me during my first trip to the country in 2015. To that end, if you should come face-to-face with one, back away (slowly at first), while peeling off your clothes one item at a time. The bears are very curious so they should stop, sniff, and perhaps play with each item as they come across it, leaving you free to run somewhere across the Arctic buck naked. Until they catch up with you, of course. Or you die of exposure. Either way — what an experience!....

A couple weeks prior to this article the Post had some advice from the National Park Service on what to do if you meet the polar bear's terrestrial cousins [the polar bear is Ursus maritimus] the brown, grizzly or Kodiak bears.

READ: Please don’t run from bears or push your slower friends down in attempts of saving yourself,”
they began in an update posted on Wednesday.

Well there goes that strategy.

There's more but that was the advice from the National Park Service that sort of stuck out.