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Deadly Polar bear attack II

The fatal attack of a polar bear that led to the death of a 17-year old on Friday (August 05) took place in the early morning hours while the group was still asleep, thus coming as a total surprise. The very aggressive bear attacked a tent (several ones?), killing one person and injuring another four, two out of these seriously in the face.

The bear was a male weighing 250 kg.

Next to shock and the sadness about the loss of a person, the question of how the deadly attack could happen remains to be answered. We need to wait until further details will be published before final conclusions can be drawn regarding the situation and its implications for risk assessment and safety measures.

Generally speaking, when camping in polar bear country it is important:

  • put up a trip wire (alarm fence) around the camp with sufficient distance from the tents. A correct setup is important to make the system work well. You should, however, bear in mind that this technical measure is known to have failed before and bears have been seen just stepping over or kreeping under the wire.
  • it is better to have a polar dog (sledge dog) who will warn you in case a polar bear is approaching the camp during the night.
  • or to keep careful watch night watch, if the group size allows this.
  • avoid camping at exposed sites such as near the shore or on small islands.
  • food, especially fresh items and meat, should not be stored inside tents.
  • even if all safety measures are carefully and correctly applied, a small risk will always remain as always in life. Camping in polar bear country will never be completely risk-free, just taking part in car traffic where it is common to accept a (small) remaining risk that cannot be controlled by the individual.

Camping in polar bear country. The risk of a potentially dangerous polar bear visit can be minimized, but never reduced to absolute zero.

Deadly Polar bear attack II - Camping in polar bear country

P.S. last official statements confirm that the alarm mines did not explode when the polar bear entered the camp. So far, the reason for this is unknown.

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last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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