Polar bear assault in Greenland blamed on latest “warmth wave” for no cause – Watts Up With That?

From polar bear science

A polar bear bit a member of a film team near the Danish military base Daneborg in East Greenland on Monday (2. There are of course no concrete indications of cause and effect. The news agency reporting on the incident quotes some unspecified “experts”, which provide the general excuse “warming causes polar bears to starve or behave badly”, which doesn’t make sense in this particular case.

Here’s what the news report (Aug 3rd) had to say, my emphasis:

Early Monday, while the sun does not set in summer at this latitude, the bear stuck his head through a poorly closed window of a research station where the documentary team was about 400 meters from the small Daneborg base.

A Danish Arctic military unit based in Greenland said the bear bit one of the three male team members on the hand before they used warning pistols to force the animal to flee.

First transported to Daneborg, the injured documentary filmmaker had to be evacuated to Akureyri, a town in Iceland.

Already blamed for five incidents so far, the bear returned later in the morning and then again overnight from Monday to Tuesday when it broke a window of the research station before fleeing.

“The local authorities have now classified the bear as ‘problematic’, which allows it to be shot on its return,” said the Danish military unit.

Daneborg is marked on the map below:

Any bear that causes problems in this region would have just come off the ice, as three weeks ago there was still a lot of ice off the coast a little north (see graphic below for July 7th). Virtually all bears are in great shape this time of year, with the exception of young, inexperienced, sick or injured bears. Warm temperatures would not make a bear desperate for food unless it was desperate for some other reason (sick, injured, or an undernourished cub). However, nothing is said in this report about the bear’s physical condition, approximate age, or gender, although it has been seen several times. Young male bears, for example, are much more likely to be a problem near communities than any other age group (Wilder et al. 2017) because these bears have to compete with older, larger bears to keep the seals they kill.

Note that at the end of the same news report, relying on unnamed “experts”:

Experts say that the retreat of pack ice, the polar bears’ hunting ground, is forcing them to stay on land more often and having a harder time finding food and maintaining a species already considered endangered.

Although still rare, close encounters with humans are on the rise as bears move closer to inhabited areas in search of food, environmental officials say.

What a general mush! The community has a problem that the northern Arctic communities are constantly grappling with. Even if there were ice off the coast, there is a possibility that bears could come ashore and cause problems.

There’s also the topic that nobody wants to talk about because it has nothing to do with decreasing sea ice: with more bears, more problem bears come.


Wilder, JM, Vongraven, D., Atwood, T., Hansen, B., Jessen, A., Kochnev, A., York, G., Vallender, R., Hedman, D. and Gibbons, M. 2017. Polar Bear Attacks on Humans: Effects of a Changing Climate. Wildlife Society Bulletin, in press. DOI: 10.1002 / wsb.783 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wsb.783/full

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