Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Polar bear attacks: scientists warn of fresh dangers in warming Arctic

Two people injured in latest attack as hungry bears deprived of access to sea ice increasingly look for food on land

A polar bear attack in Canada that left two people injured has brought new warnings from scientists of a dangerous rise in human-bear encounters in a warming Arctic.

The friends had just walked out of the door in the pre-dawn hours after a party when the young polar bear crept up behind them, unheard and unseen.

By the time, the bear was driven off by neighbours wielding a shovel, banging pots and pans, and firing multiple rounds from a shotgun, two people were badly mauled: the young woman who was the original target of the attack and an older male neighbour who tried to come to her rescue.

The episode – the second violent human-bear encounter since September – has deeply shaken this small town of 900 on Hudson Bay, known as the polar bear capital of the world.

It has also prompted new warnings from scientists of the rising risks of human-polar bear encounters because of climate change, with starving bears coming off the ice and onto land looking for food.

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