Sunday, July 19, 2009

Polar Bears Are An Extreme Hazard

The title of this post comes from a Parks Canada guide to the Torngat Mountains National Park under the "Wildlife Encounters" section. (See my previous post for details about my forthcoming trip.) The pamphlet states: "Wildlife can be dangerous under certain conditions...When you register to enter the Torngat Mountains, we will show you a safety video about polar bears...We will also provide a copy of Parks Canada's Safety in Polar Bear Country pamphlet...Polar bears are true carnivores and can be a significant risk to human beings. Visitors traveling and camping in the park are in polar bear country and are at high risk of encounters."

In the "Handling an Encounter" section of the Safety in Polar Bear Country pamphlet various scenarios are reviewed, such as:

If the bear does not know you're there (do such and so)...

If the bear knows you are there and shows signs of being curious (do such and so)...

If the bear has been surprised at close range or shows signs of being agitated or threatened (do such and so)...

Here's the one I like:

If the bear shows signs of stalking or hunting you, such as:
-following you or circling you,
-approaching directly, intently and unafraid,
-returning after being scared away, or
-appears wounded, old or thin [i.e, is PISSED OFF!]


-fight back! [or, GET THE F---- OUT OF THERE!] Use any potential weapon,
group together and make loud noises.
-DO NOT RUN. [Hmmh..don't know about that one...]
-be prepared to use deterrents.

If a bear charges:

-stand your ground and be prepared to fight! [Like I'm actually going to do that?]
Bluff charges are rare. [I pray the Lord my soul to keep...]

I confess to having felt relieved when I learned that we will have an Inuit guide accompanying us on this trip (who will be carrying a firearm at all times,i.e, a deterrent.) In addition, an electric fence will be set-up around our camp at night. (What if I need to take a leak?!?)


Anonymous said...

Stand and fight a polar bear??? Does it say how?

I've heard it said that in such situations, it's good to be accompanied by a friend who's out of shape. That way you don't have to outrun the bear... you just have to outrun your friend.

David Heald said...

Excellent suggestion, Dogo...I'm afraid my fellow campers are all in fine shape. Some of us are older and can't run as fast, although I find myself in that category...