Human-polar bear conflict is on the rise

In a devastating turn of events this week, a polar bear ...

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 6:46 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 6:46 PM

In a devastating turn of events this week, a polar bear was killed by a cruise line employee, after the bear attacked a spotter looking for the predator in advance of a shore excursion in the Svalbard archipelago.

Although the cause of the attack in Svalbard is still under investigation, we already know human-polar bear conflict is on the rise. For instance, nine polar bear conflicts were registered in all of Greenland in 2007. Last year, there were 21 conflicts between August and December in the village of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland, alone.

Animals

Arctic

Bears

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Climate change

Continents and regions

Cruises

Energy and environment

Energy and utilities

Environment and natural resources

Europe

Greenland

Life forms

Mammals

North America

Northern Europe

Norway

Polar bears

The Americas

Tourism

Travel and tourism

Wildlife

This will only increase as the changing climate shrinks polar bears' sea-ice habitat, and as humans take advantage of that ice loss to put more vessels of all kinds (from tourism to natural resource development to shipping) in Arctic waters in pursuit of economic opportunity.

Governments and industry leaders in Arctic countries must take responsibility and support ways for their citizens and employees to live and work safely together with potentially dangerous animals like polar bears. People living and working in the region need education, training and the necessary tools to protect themselves when faced with a polar bear in their vicinity.

A marine mammal, polar bears' beautiful white fur -- the feature that draws tourists in the first place -- allows them to blend into the sea ice, which they use as a platform to hunt for seals, their main source of food. But as ice diminishes, recent research has shown polar bears are exhibiting signs of stress, including decreases in body condition and declines in cub production, as they travel farther and work harder for nourishment.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature predicts the global polar bear population will decline by more than 30% by 2050 due to sea-ice habitat loss.

As climate change radically alters the north, and as hungry bears spend more time on land, the World Wildlife Fund has been working with local communities to establish polar bear patrols in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia. Using bright lights, loud noises and sometimes even rubber bullets, patrollers help to safely scare away bears that may wander into their streets.

This fall, testing will get underway in Greenland on new camera technology that will provide early detection to warn people when polar bears enter their communities, and trials in Alaska have already begun on polar-bear-proof food storage containers. But governments need to make a more serious effort to assist Arctic communities with safe and clean waste disposal, which is often lacking in the Arctic.

But it's not just about protecting human life; it's also important to keep wildlife safe. Ecosystems only function naturally if the top predator is present in that ecosystem. Without polar bears hunting seals, there could be a chain reaction throughout the Arctic food web. That's why WWF worked with the Arctic Expedition Cruise Organization, known as AECO, to create strict guidelines to ensure people who want to see polar bears in their natural habitat do so without putting Arctic wildlife in danger. For instance, if they spot a bear, they don't go ashore, and they must not pursue, follow or lure polar bears.

But more ships and private yachts are visiting the region than ever -- cruise traffic in Svalbard went up 20% between 2016 and 2017 -- and it is inexperienced and unguided visitors on land that end up in most deadly conflicts with polar bears. Authorities have their work cut out for them ensuring that all ship- and land-based visitors abide by guidelines as stringent as those followed by the AECO, and in educating visitors on how to behave in polar bear habitats in a way that's safe for people and thus for polar bears.

There's more to be done on the national level as well. The five states with polar bear populations -- the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark/Greenland -- have renewed their commitment to work together on a 10-year plan to manage all aspects of polar-bear conservation, including protecting critical habitats. Development of a network of specially managed areas, which WWF works toward in all Arctic nations, is fundamental to safeguarding the survival of Arctic ecosystems for people and wildlife to enjoy.

Still, solutions must involve ordinary people outside the Arctic, too. And not just tourists. We all have a role to play.

By actively supporting the shift to a low-carbon economy, by embracing renewable energy and by reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions to slow planetary warming, we are each helping protect the sea ice habitat that polar bears and other magnificent marine mammals like narwhal, bowhead and beluga whales all depend on. As individuals, most of us will never get to see a polar bear in its natural habitat. But we can do our part to ensure their habitat continues to exist.

That's something the cruise industry and the rest of us can get on board with.

West Lafayette
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 34°
Kokomo
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 34°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 31°
Fowler
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 34°
Williamsport
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 34°
Crawfordsville
Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 32°
Frankfort
Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 32°
Delphi
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 36°
Monticello
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 36°
Logansport
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 31°
A few showers, then much warmer weather is ahead...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1084488

Reported Deaths: 17386
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1425562217
Lake705171220
Allen64347862
Hamilton49481481
St. Joseph48135639
Elkhart39011536
Vanderburgh33874494
Tippecanoe29863271
Johnson26876463
Hendricks25548379
Porter24683380
Madison20440444
Clark19785275
Vigo18609308
LaPorte16638260
Monroe16237217
Delaware16230286
Howard16181310
Kosciusko13763162
Hancock12644184
Bartholomew12544188
Warrick11889189
Wayne11794264
Floyd11792225
Grant11484233
Morgan10134188
Boone9576120
Noble8921121
Henry8917163
Marshall8792146
Dearborn875798
Dubois8673138
Shelby7958127
Cass7907126
Lawrence7861182
DeKalb7416106
Jackson738093
Huntington7280107
Gibson6922118
Montgomery6830122
Harrison680696
Knox6779113
Steuben641185
Miami6384106
Whitley631160
Putnam626582
Clinton614176
Wabash5958108
Jasper591991
Jefferson5617102
Ripley540892
Adams527881
Daviess4964116
Scott475978
Wells462998
White459967
Greene458399
Clay452162
Decatur4491109
Jennings434666
Fayette429094
LaGrange413890
Posey398344
Washington380654
Randolph3770107
Fountain364962
Spencer353446
Fulton352270
Starke343672
Sullivan342454
Owen341676
Orange320270
Jay315450
Rush293332
Carroll287037
Franklin283544
Perry281453
Vermillion277557
Parke244930
Tipton244664
Pike241744
Blackford213944
Pulaski203158
Newton176552
Brown169850
Crawford167129
Benton160517
Martin149219
Switzerland143712
Warren131416
Union115416
Ohio90513
Unassigned0581

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events