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-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-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.