• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Polar bear shot dead after attacking cruise ship guard (1 Viewer)

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Why do people need to land to see the Bears?

As Polar Bears are known as one of the few animals that will actively hunt people, it does seem questionable to effectively tease the animal with a potential meal and then kill it for acting like a Polar Bear.

The passengers should not be allowed to land.


A
 

pratincol

Well-known member
Why do people need to land to see the Bears?

As Polar Bears are known as one of the few animals that will actively hunt people, it does seem questionable to effectively tease the animal with a potential meal and then kill it for acting like a Polar Bear.

The passengers should not be allowed to land.


A
Very sad story.
I suspect the incident happened in Ny Alesund, a well established human settlement, which was there long before the cruise ships came. It is occupied throughout the year. Ny Alesund is a small collection of research huts where Scientists base themselves.
The Polar Bears are in the vicinity whether or not a cruise ship is there. Its not a case of there being a cruise ship in port and them being tempted, because there are people around all year.
Passengers are not allowed beyond the limits of the Ny Alesund which is ringed by armed staff from the cruise ships. In this case they are only impinging on Polar Bear territory as much as the people who are living and working there permanently. The settlement is so small it only covers a tiny fraction of the Spitsbergen area.
A few people go off on organised trips but the majority are happy to land on shore for a few hours, walk within the circle of the armed guards, and return to the ship.
It's only the second incident I'm aware of. Many years ago a passenger was killed by a Polar Bear at Ny Alesund, and after that they introduced the circle of armed staff.
We were made aware that few Polar Bears venture close to Ny Alesund, presumably because the vigilant locals have constantly scared them off. So going ashore there wasn't seen as an opportunity to see a Polar Bear.
As part of the cruise, ships sometimes do a trip around the coastline. They might then see a Polar Bear from a respectful distance, whereby they aren't impinging on Polar Bear territory[ the ships don't sail too close to the shore because of rocks and shallower waters].
 
Last edited:
I feel for the polar bear but I would have felt for any human mauled to death by the bear too.

So I am undecided on this.

Views such as 'these humans are invading the natural habitat of the polar bear' can be seen as a contradictory as we, as birders, frequently 'invade' bird habitats all the time.

Okay, so we can hide behind a, well, 'hide' but the birds are still there wading in the water on the other side.

We can use long telephoto lenses as too not disturb the birds, but we're out in the woods and hills and fields - again, in 'their' natural habitat.

And we are all aware that there are the regular boating trips so we can 'sail' around our sea bird colonies or go ashore and 'occupy' their land - as well as rain forest expeditions.

The majority of birders are sensible, nature-loving people, but there is definitely a contradiction here regarding the invasiveness of people when we judge polar bear tourism against bird-watching tourism.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
I feel for the polar bear but I would have felt for any human mauled to death by the bear too.

So I am undecided on this.

Views such as 'these humans are invading the natural habitat of the polar bear' can be seen as a contradictory as we, as birders, frequently 'invade' bird habitats all the time..

There is also the whole issue of planet being overpopulated with humans (and it's going to get worse) and very few wild spaces left.
 

pratincol

Well-known member
I feel for the polar bear but I would have felt for any human mauled to death by the bear too.

So I am undecided on this.

Views such as 'these humans are invading the natural habitat of the polar bear' can be seen as a contradictory as we, as birders, frequently 'invade' bird habitats all the time.

Okay, so we can hide behind a, well, 'hide' but the birds are still there wading in the water on the other side.

We can use long telephoto lenses as too not disturb the birds, but we're out in the woods and hills and fields - again, in 'their' natural habitat.

And we are all aware that there are the regular boating trips so we can 'sail' around our sea bird colonies or go ashore and 'occupy' their land - as well as rain forest expeditions.

The majority of birders are sensible, nature-loving people, but there is definitely a contradiction here regarding the invasiveness of people when we judge polar bear tourism against bird-watching tourism.

As I explained it's most likely this incident occurred in a restricted small settlement which is already occupied by scientists and researchers. It's not, in itself, a particular habitat for Polar Bears, it's just a small collection of wooden huts mainly occupied by the scientists and researchers[ probably one of the areas of research is Polar Bears].
We were told, although it's possible we might see a Polar Bear, the chances were slim so nobody was really expecting to see one.
The passengers have been at sea for two days so it's more an opportunity to get off the ship and stretch their legs rather than a Polar Bear watching expedition. Most passengers milled around for a while and returned to the warmth of the ship by tender boat cos it was so cold[ hovering around 0 degrees centigrade in August- and that was a heatwave apparently]
The Spitzbergen area is so large and little populated, Polar Bears outnumber humans and have vast areas to roam without human disturbance.
 
Last edited:
@pratincol

Yes, I understood your explanation, Polar bears weren't expected and neither was there a real chance of seeing one and there were armed guards just to be safe, but a polar bear did actually appear and attack.

It is without doubt that human 'disturbance' played a major role in this polar bear's reason for what it did and the sad outcome that ensued.

We are on the same side here, but one thing did lead to the other.
 

litebeam

Well-known member
There is also the whole issue of planet being overpopulated with humans (and it's going to get worse) and very few wild spaces left.

For those who haven't driven (or flown over) the western U.S., take the time to do so. While it obviously doesn't represent the planet per se', the amount of 'wild' left in our country alone is staggering, especially given the constant rhetoric to the contrary.
 

Gaz Shilton

Well-known member
One less Polar Bear.
Some humans really are stupid.
If you are in an area where these bears can and do appear, and you get attacked. Tough. You're invading their world. The answer, shoot it!!!!
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
For those who haven't driven (or flown over) the western U.S., take the time to do so. While it obviously doesn't represent the planet per se', the amount of 'wild' left in our country alone is staggering, especially given the constant rhetoric to the contrary.

I've done it by rail. Was very disappointed in the amount of wildlife (especially large mammals) on the journey.


Someone also posed the following question to me a few months back - what percentage of the planets total mammals are human or livestock as a percentage of the whole of the planets complete mammalian biomass? (ie comparing wild animals to man and animals he farms for his use.) I was close, but they were surprised.
 

litebeam

Well-known member
I've done it by rail. Was very disappointed in the amount of wildlife (especially large mammals) on the journey.
I can drive the mountain pass near my home and be 'disappointed in the amount of wildlife,' but the simple truth is that the timber is full of elk, deer, moose and other animals. Just because animals aren't visible doesn't mean they aren't present.
Many of these ungulates are nocturnal as well.

The overall point was alluding to over-population; and the simple truth is that while the coasts are bursting much of the West has very little habitation.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top