Increase in attacks:
Over the past few years, sea-ice loss has led to increased polar bear sightings in northern coastal communities.
At the same time, more people are working in polar-bear country. The combination has elevated the number of human-to-polar-bear encounters.
Some of these have had tragic endings, for both humans and the bears—but more frequently for the bears.
Dr. Tom Smith, an expert on human-to-polar-bear conflicts, says when in polar-bear country, you can avoid negative outcomes by taking a few simple precautions:
Minimize attractants (items with strong odors, including food and some chemicals).
Stay alert to your surroundings.
Carry pepper spray (100% effective), a firearm (76% effective), or other non-lethal deterrents (flares, bear bangers).
If the bear is out of spray range, use deterrents like a flare or banger.
If camping, string a trip-wire alarm system and/or an electric fence around your campsite. If you have to camp in an area with polar-bear activity, set a watch.
Always travel in groups of two or more and stay together if a bear approaches.
Watch polar bears as they travel across the sea ice to hunt seals.
Polar Bear FAQ
We answer the most frequently asked polar bear questions.