Dangerous animal will kill and eat almost anything
Published 06/08/2011 | 05:00
If they are hungry or feel threatened, they will attack. There are 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in 19 populations across the Arctic, with the animal found in Canada, Greenland, Alaska, Norway and Russia.
Polar bear attacks on humans are very rare, but the results can be disastrous for both parties.
In the Svalbard archipelago, where a population of 2,400 people shares the islands with an estimated 1,500 polar bears, it is compulsory to carry a rifle for protection when leaving any human settlement. Although polar bears do not look upon humans as food, if they are hungry they will kill and eat almost anything, and any bear will attack if it feels threatened. A polar bear's seal hunting technique involves biting them on the head and neck to disable them, then dragging them away from the water to feed.
Sebastian Plur Nilssen (22), a kayaker, was pulled from his tent by a polar bear in Svalbard last summer. The bear dragged him 130ft across rocks and ice before Ludvig Fjeld, Mr Nilssen's travelling companion, killed it with four shots from a rifle. In another attack in 1999, a 60-year-old Canadian woman was mauled to death by a polar bear during a camping trip in Hudson Bay.