Polar bear attack in Svalbard: victim survives, polar bear does not

Reposted from Polar Bear Science

Posted on March 2, 2021 

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.”

According to a story in IcePeople (2 March 2021), my bold:

A man working on a film project was injured by a polar bear Tuesday morning during a scouting excursion with a co-worker to Mohnbukta in east Spitsbergen, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

“The polar bear has been shot and killed,” an announcement at the governor’s website states. “The governor was notified of the incident at 9:25 a.m. today. The man who was attacked by the polar bear is slightly injured. He is now being treated at Longyearbyen Hospital.”

The man was one of two employees at Polar X, owned by local film producer Jason Roberts, and they were measuring the ice thickness in the area about 70 kilometers east of Longyearbyen when they were attacked from behind, Svalbardposten reported.

“He is doing well, he is not seriously injured,” Roberts told the newspaper, adding it is the first time in his 30 years here a polar bear has attacked an employee. He said both employees are experienced in the field, but their snowmobiles were running so they may not have heard the bear’s approach.

The man attacked suffered slight head injuries. His colleague fatally shot the bear.

The injured man was transported to Longyearbyen Hospital at about 11 a.m. Officials from the governor’s office returned to the attack site Tuesday afternoon as part of their routine investigation into a polar bear encounter resulting in injuries or fatalities to people or bears. The 250-kilogram [about 550 lbs] male bear is scheduled to be autopsied this evening.

The east coast of Spitsbergen is one of the most popular travel destinations during the winter/spring because there are typically numerous bears that can be observed on the sea ice in the area, in contrast to the west coast where ice has been scant in most recent years. Travellers in the area sharing their experiences on social media in recent weeks have reported seeing numerous tracks, if not always bears.

Read the whole story here.

Ice conditions around Svalbard on 2 March 2021:

REFERENCES

Crockford, S.J. 2019The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and ebook formats.

Crockford, S.J. 2021. The State of the Polar Bear Report 2020. Global Warming Policy Foundation Report 48, London. pdf here.

Wilder, J.M., Vongraven, D., Atwood, T., Hansen, B., Jessen, A., Kochnev, A., York, G., Vallender, R., Hedman, D. and Gibbons, M. 2017. Polar bear attacks on humans: implications of a changing climate. Wildlife Society Bulletin, in press. DOI: 10.1002/wsb.783 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wsb.783/full

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Honesty
March 6, 2021 6:05 am

Yet Beluga wales now come down to the UK (FROM A LATITUDE OF 70*N more often each couple of years. Colder water due to solar minimum?? The thames froze over this year too which I predicted back in August 2020 would occur.

TheFinalNail
Reply to  Honesty
March 6, 2021 11:53 am

Winter 2020-21 in the UK this year was just fractionally cooler (-0.3C) than the 1981-2010 average, according to the UK Met Office. Well within the normal range over that base line: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/maps-and-data/uk-and-regional-series

Bruce Ranta
Reply to  TheFinalNail
March 6, 2021 3:04 pm

But a 1 degree change is massive!

fred250
Reply to  TheFinalNail
March 6, 2021 3:52 pm

Poor rusty, still hanging on by a tiny bit of rusty scale !!

Hilarious 🙂

ATheoK
Reply to  fred250
March 7, 2021 6:33 pm

And using the old comparison years 1981-2010… Never mind that 0.3°C is a large movement negative.

Scissor
March 6, 2021 6:13 am

Should a congressional camping contingent be sent to investigate? Jerry Nadler could help sustain the local population.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  Scissor
March 6, 2021 6:24 am

You don’t think much of the bears’ discretion. Buzzards will. fly away from that rotting corpse, dead or alive.

ATheoK
Reply to  Doug Huffman
March 7, 2021 6:54 pm

Buzzards may eat road kill. Polar bears feast on dead, very long dead whales. Up close and personal with puffy swelling whales.

I doubt the bears would notice any difference between rotting whales and rotten nads nadler.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Scissor
March 6, 2021 6:32 am

Penguins in the Arctic?

Scissor
Reply to  Rich Davis
March 6, 2021 6:37 am

John Garrett
Reply to  Scissor
March 6, 2021 6:55 am

Excellent idea !!

Send Al Gore. He’s plump and ought to be a good source of protein.

Michael “Piltdown” Mann, John Kerry, Gina McCarthy, Bill McKibben and Leonardo DiCaprio should be sent out on the ice individually as special observers.

Last edited 3 months ago by John Garrett
Chaswarnertoo
Reply to  John Garrett
March 6, 2021 8:47 am

Strap a side of beef to their backs.

Jon Salmi
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
March 6, 2021 12:52 pm

Nice touch.

lee riffee
Reply to  John Garrett
March 6, 2021 10:50 am

Michael Moore would also make a tasty meal for a hungry polar bear….

commieBob
March 6, 2021 6:32 am

1 – Depending on light conditions, polar bears are nearly invisible.
2 – I’ve never heard the sound of a polar bear walking. It didn’t matter that the snowmobile was running, they wouldn’t have heard the bear anyway.
3 – If they haven’t encountered humans before, polar bears see us as some kind of funny looking snack.
4 – In the light of 1, 2, and 3 above, of course the people were armed.

Last edited 3 months ago by commieBob
Stephen Skinner
March 6, 2021 6:37 am

“..a three year old male fatally attacked a camper in August 2020 just outside Longyearbyen,”
A camper? In a TENT, camping in an area where there are Polar Bears? double-u-tee-eff!

Scissor
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
March 6, 2021 6:45 am

Perhaps he’d be interested in swimming with the crocodiles in Humpty Doo.

Jeff Labute
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
March 6, 2021 7:52 am

Tent of fools.
AND, in regards to the story, only an activist would shoot a polar bear. (sarc)

Scissor
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
March 6, 2021 8:09 am

It seems obvious that Polar bears would be drawn to the smell of roasting marshmallows and wieners over the camp fire.

H.R.
Reply to  Scissor
March 6, 2021 10:40 am

And particularly if the campers were drinking Coke. I know polar bears like Coca-Cola because I’ve seen it on TV. It must be true.

Stephen Skinner
Reply to  H.R.
March 6, 2021 3:54 pm

I thought Coca-cola want people to be less white?

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Stephen Skinner
March 6, 2021 6:00 pm

They are, hence the attacks by deeply offended polar bears.

Like the saying goes; Go Woke, Get Attacked By Bears.

lee
Reply to  H.R.
March 6, 2021 6:41 pm

Only as a mixer for Bundaberg Rum
comment image

Reply to  Stephen Skinner
March 6, 2021 10:22 pm
ATheoK
Reply to  Jan kjetil Andersen
March 7, 2021 7:32 pm

I’ve taken urbanites camping in the wilderness.
They tend to have trouble sleeping at night.

Singing to them doesn’t seem to help.

  • Lions N Tigers N Bears,
  • Lions N Tigers N Bears…
Coeur de Lion
March 6, 2021 6:56 am

Read ‘Arctic Dreams’ (forget who by) for magical chapter on polar bears and their adaptation. Remaining Darwinian question- why the black nose?

Monna Manhas
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 6, 2021 7:36 am

Polar bears have black skin under their white fur. If you look it up, you will be told that it helps them absorb as much solar radiation as possible, keeping them warmer.
I don’t think I’m alone in honestly wondering how solar radiation penetrates all that white fur, but I’m not a scientist.

Last edited 3 months ago by Monna Manhas
Reply to  Monna Manhas
March 6, 2021 9:25 am

The hair of polarbears are hallow, to conduct sun’s heat to the black skin.

MarkW
Reply to  Krishna Gans
March 6, 2021 10:27 am

Sacred hair???

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  Monna Manhas
March 6, 2021 9:31 am

The white fur actually acts as a light-pipe, funneling the light to the skin. Remarkable natural fiber-optics.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 6, 2021 9:23 am

It’s told, when waiting for pride, they hide the nose 😀

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 6, 2021 9:44 am

A pink-skinned nose would be liable to sunburn?

lee riffee
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
March 6, 2021 10:54 am

That would be my guess also….too much UV radiation in the summertime. Bare skin w/o melanin would burn. Also, most Arctic mammals tend to have very dark eyes (as well as noses), presumably to protect against UV radiation.

H. D. Hoese
March 6, 2021 7:06 am

Ecologists have a term for it– “Extended Foraging.” Read about it in coyotes and hyenas, probably ‘more common than thought.’ Simply stated hunger drives taking unusual risks and prey. Shark attacks?

Michael E McHenry
March 6, 2021 7:26 am

Facebook climate facts says polar bears are in decline because of climate change

Mr.
Reply to  Michael E McHenry
March 6, 2021 8:08 am

So do most of the school teachers.
What chance do kids have these days?

Michael 63
Reply to  Michael E McHenry
March 6, 2021 8:39 am

Yep, the decrease is quite substantial since the low ot the 1960ies (?) – it was down to an estimated 5,000 I think. Presently the decrease is a whopping -35,000 – -40,000! 🙂

Chaswarnertoo
Reply to  Michael 63
March 6, 2021 8:50 am

In my lifetime polar bear numbers have, sadly, increased 7 fold despite humans killing around 1000 every year.

rah
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
March 7, 2021 4:17 am

A big reason for the increase was Canada and Alaska cutting down considerably on the number of hunting tags they issued.

“Tex” Johnson, the test pilot, was a life long hunter and as his means increased did more and more big game hunting. Later in his career he went on a Polar bear hunt in Siberia because that was the last of the big animal trophies he lacked. He said the hunt was so canned he was totally disgusted and when I got back he sold off his considerable collection of hunting rifles and never hunted again.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Michael E McHenry
March 7, 2021 3:25 am

the words fkbook n fact should NEVER be used in the same sentence

fretslider
March 6, 2021 7:27 am

A man was attacked from behind this morning by a small male polar bear on the east coast of Svalbard

My question is this: Was the polar bear ‘forced’ to use four times as much energy in the attack?

Polar bears and narwhals are using up to four times as much energy to survive because of major ice loss in the Arctic, according to scientists. Once perfectly evolved for polar life, apex predators are struggling as their habitats shrink and unique adaptations become less suited to an increasingly ice-free Arctic, researchers say.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/24/arctic-ice-loss-forces-polar-bears-to-use-four-times-as-much-energy-to-survive-study

I’m willing to bet it wasn’t.

Last edited 3 months ago by fretslider
Pat from kerbob
Reply to  fretslider
March 6, 2021 7:32 am

If it’s warmer they expend less energy
The narwhal part is pure fantasy?
Their “air holes might shift”?
With less ice there are more airholes and far more food

Last edited 3 months ago by Pat from kerbob
Reply to  fretslider
March 6, 2021 8:30 am

Mammals (like us) are designed for involuntary fasting periods, otherwise they wouldn’t be here.

philincalifornia
Reply to  fretslider
March 6, 2021 9:15 am

NSIDC is now back up, sort of, and if you hit the show all years button, it’s pretty apparent that recent years, at this time of year, are pretty normal and greater than more than a decade ago. For example, look at 2012, which is already there, and 2006:

https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/

Any blame for effects on polar bears and Arctic sea ice at this time of year is the usual scientific fraud we have come to expect from these pernicious nitwits.

ATheoK
Reply to  philincalifornia
March 7, 2021 7:11 pm

Looks like NSIDC’s fixing the “processing issues” is an utter failure. Instead they’re propping bad numbers and pretending.

Reply to  fretslider
March 6, 2021 9:59 am

At least the link has griff “quality”comment image comment image

Mr.
March 6, 2021 7:37 am

Fake news.
All the polar bears are extinct.
David Attenborough said so.

Chaswarnertoo
Reply to  Mr.
March 6, 2021 8:49 am

Despite the fact they drive walruses off cliffs….

Reply to  Mr.
March 6, 2021 11:00 am

When they extinct than dying of laughter – listening to David Attenborough

LdB
Reply to  Mr.
March 8, 2021 4:20 am

Griff confirmed it.

March 6, 2021 8:12 am

Can’t these bears read?
Don’t they have laptops?
A lot of bloggers/blogs will tell them that we feel compassion, sympathize with these animals.
They are recognized as the real victims of climate change, by all alarmists.

They shouldn’t attack us.
I’m very disappointed!

Dave Fair
March 6, 2021 8:14 am

Mucking around in bear habitat invites the bears to question your presence. Too bad they had to kill the bear. Compared to a human life, however, no big deal.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Dave Fair
March 6, 2021 12:10 pm

The humans were film makers. Their project wasn’t mentioned, but dollars to donuts, they were creating yet another “poor bears suffering from climate change” propaganda piece.
Ended up killing a bear and now they have a “hunger from climate change drove hm to it” meme to exploit.

rah
March 6, 2021 9:25 am

This is the kind of thing is most likely to happen when people fail to fully accept they are not at the top of the food chain. During my illness I watched a lot of the series ‘ Live Below Zero’. Those people living a life of subsistence to one degree or another near or above the Arctic Circle understand fully that if they are not cautious they could end up as bear or wolf poop!

There is something attractive to me about their self reliance, living primarily on what nature provides, hunting, trapping, fishing, and gathering most all of their food. Building their shelters from spruce and heating by burning wood. In some ways their way of life is one with so much more freedom than the vast majority of us live. Their time clock is nature and the turning of the seasons. Basically summer is spent preparing for the 8-9 coldest months of the year.

It is a hard life for sure, but who is to say it is not a better life? They aren’t obese, and they know what is in the food they eat. Though some have been injured or had health problems requiring they stay in civilization for a time for treatment and recovery, they go back. I have yet to see them show one of them have a dental emergency.

ResourceGuy
March 6, 2021 12:14 pm

Okay, where was David Attenborough at the scene of the crime?

ResourceGuy
March 6, 2021 12:16 pm

Was he wearing a WWF polar bear T-shirt?

Patrick MJD
March 6, 2021 6:04 pm

Where is griff when you need good laugh?

ATheoK
March 7, 2021 6:19 pm

6 year old male that weighed only 231 kg”

only 231 kg”, or 508 pounds. Perhaps a bit small for a polar bear, but it’s still a good sized bear.

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.”

Bears eating seal pups put on weight quickly.
Since, this is before seal pupping season one wonders why the polar bear expert didn’t compare the weight of hungry 6 year old bears to other 6 year old bears in March?

Because it is likely their ‘pity the poor starved polar bear’ tale falls apart when starved polar bears are compared to starved polar bears…

“The man who was attacked by the polar bear is slightly injured. He is now being treated at Longyearbyen Hospital

“…

they were measuring the ice thickness in the area about 70 kilometers east of Longyearbyen when they were attacked from behind, Svalbardposten reported.

He is doing well, he is not seriously injured,” Roberts told the newspaper”

Using standard terms of injury and hospitalization:

  • Intensive care, at risk,
  • Intensive care, stable,
  • Surgery, in danger,
  • Surgery, out of danger,
  • Emergency care, awaiting treatment or results from further tests,
  • Emergency care, entered into the hospital.

Five hundred pound bears tend to use teeth, claws or sheer strength.

The victim has head injuries. Was taken to the hospital and is currently “doing well”.
In spite of the polar bear expert and the news attempts to trivialize the bear, the injuries said bear caused to the man and the man’s health.

Apparently, their polar bear expert and the news services are scared the world will again recognize polar bears as top ranked terrifying carnivores.
No more will fluffy happy polar bears serve as Arctic canaries.

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