Polar Bear Attacks on the Rise

Scientists warn that a melting Arctic means more encounters

polar bear statue churchill canada

A polar bear statue, Churchill, Canada.     Photo: Ian Stewart/Wikimedia

Scientists warn that a polar bear attack in Churchill, Canada, last week could be the harbinger for more dangerous encounters between humans and polar bears as Arctic ice melts.

On November 1, a young polar bear attacked a group walking home from a party in the pre-dawn hours. Two people were injured with lacerations to the head, ears, and arms.

"We got about 10 steps out the door when it happened. I turned around, and it was already right there trotting after us," Nikki Pilek, who was in the group, told The Guardian.

The injuries might have been more severe if 69-year-old Bill Ayotte hadn't distracted the bear by beating it with a shovel and chasing it away.

Churchill calls itself the "polar bear capital of the world," as hundreds of polar bears converge there every fall to cross the frozen Hudson Bay in search of seals. The bears are so prolific here that conservation group Explore.org installed a series of live video cameras around Churchill and along the shores of the bay for citizen-scientists to monitor the bears. You can watch the live-streaming video here.

Comments