Don't Feed the Bears

One of my brothers forwarded this to me with the caption: “Isn’t it comforting to know that when you are about to become a bear’s breakfast, your buddy is standing there taking photos?”


  1. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

    While working in Churchill many moons ago, some co-workers and I went skating on some ponds. Then I said I had not seen any bears yet. So we drove towards the Rocket Range and found some wrestling along the shore. A couple of us walked closer to take some photos. Then we heard the women screaming from the car.
    No. 48 (painted on behind) was walking between us and the car. He was not hungry. We waited until he passed.

  2. deadwood
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    Good thing it was just a cub!

  3. kim
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    C’mon, that bear just wants to audit his internal data.

  4. Tim
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    sort of off subject, while making some copies in kinko’s yesterday i heard some women relating an anecdote to the worker of her daughter who was up north somewhere, and that polar bears were coming down further for food near villages, and this was somehow proof of global warming. ??? anyone ever heard of this, last i heard 9 of the 11 species were steady or increasing in number, not drowning in the arctic as Al Gore had foretold.

    ps. if you can check out washington post’s article where they declare him the Goracle, and all the senators check out visions of the future by questioning him

    • David L. Hagen
      Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

      Re: Tim (#4),
      Probably getting to frosty up north, so the bears are headed south to warm up.

    • Gerald Machnee
      Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 4:42 PM | Permalink

      Re: Tim (#4),
      The place you are likely referring to is Arviat, formerly Eskimo Point on the western shore of Hudson Bay. In the fall the Polar Bears go out on the ice after freeze up to hunt seals. They leave their denning area on the south shore. The bears on the western side move northwestward and as soon as the ice is thick enough they go on the ice. If it takes longer to freeze they will wander a little longer along the shore line. The problem is we put towns in THEIR territory. They smell the garbage and cooking and think they have found a MacDonalds. So as the towns get bigger as with Arviat they smell more food. And behold, global warming is to blame because it took a little longer for the ice to freeze. By spring they have done a clockwise loop and are back to their denning area. The eastern Hudson Bay bears do a counterclockwise loop.
      When the bears wandered into Churchill some were put in pens (Bear jail) and some were flown back southeast. I think number 48 was flown and came back for another free ride.

  5. woodNfish
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    Re: Tim (#4), Bears are scavengers, Tim. Anyone who lives where bears frequent know this, and polar bears are no different, just bigger than the rest.

    I also read something or heard something on radio or TV about how the bears were coming into village dumps and eating because AGW is causing them to starve. It’s just nonsense for stupid city slickers and PETA morons to lap up because they are too dumb to do a little research.

  6. Mark T.
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

    I was out walking with a friend through the “open space”* behind his house last spring. As we rounded a corner he said “ok, be quiet, this is where I saw the bear last week.” At which point I promptly began talking to him at the top of my lungs, i.e., yelling loudly. Hangin’ wit da bears ain’t my game.


    *open space is a CO thing for protected public lands, and it generally lines neighborhoods along water ways a.k.a. dry gullies except during storms.

  7. oakgeo
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

    Bears have always scavenged in dumps; however, my understanding is that polar bears have been known to hunt down humans for food with far greater frequency than other bears. I received the same email some time ago and while chuckling at it I could also understand the terror that guy probably felt. I’ve come face-to-face with bears three times in the bush (within ten metres) and thank God they’ve been more afraid than I was. That polar bear in the images doesn’t seem very frightened to me.

  8. Gary
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    That sequence cries out for a caption contest or dialog balloons.

  9. Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    Going into bear country armed only with a camera on a tripod is like coming to a gunfight armed only with a knife.

    So, how did this end? He could get into one of the trucks and wait for the bear to break into it, I suppose; or keep circling the trucks until the bear gets tired (assume the one in fear of death has more stamina than the one looking for a meal, I guess).

    • Jeff Alberts
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:08 AM | Permalink

      Re: Micajah (#10),

      I’d say it’s more like coming unarmed, period. Pummeling a bear with a camera is useless, whereas if you can get close enough with a knife in a gunfight you can still do damage.

  10. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    If they’re chillian’ like a villian’ ’round the cars, they probably have learned to ignore us puny little hairless things.

  11. Phillip Bratby
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    But they’re so cute! Gotta sacrifice a few humans to save them.

  12. David Lott
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

    “If there is a bear . . . “

  13. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 3:35 PM | Permalink

    The buddy’s choice was to take pictures or become the bear’s lunch and dinner.

  14. William Hughes
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    Born and grew up in Churchill Manitoba. My dad worked on tracking radars (synchro-servos – there is hardcore engineering for you) for the people shooting rockets up into the aurora borealis. When bears like that one see a person they see a seal that is way, way too far away from the water. No fear of people at all those things. None.

    I remember the bear patrol was always near us (schoolkids in the playground) in pickup trucks. They were on the lookout for bears and ready to chase them off with flares, firecrackers, and finally rifles if the bears didn’t figure it out. Saw it happen a few times.

    My mom (nurse) brought my little brother and I to the hospital late one night to see a full size one close up. I have no idea why it was in the hospital. I was only ten or so, so I would remember it bigger than it was, but it absolutely filled the emergency room.

    I remember the smell, and the teeth, and the sheer appalling size of it.

    Thanks for triggering off those old memories! Feel sorry for the guy playing ring around the truck. He won’t enjoy those memories, I can tell you. It’ll be the memory of the teeth and the smell that bug him the most!

  15. Jack Wedel
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    There have been polar bear at the Churchill dump every fall since the dump began. Once the ice makes, they go out to sea to threaten the continued existence of seals – including new mummies and their cute little white offspring. Kill the bears to protect those cute seals! A .357 magnum elephant gun works well.

  16. Larry Sheldon
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

    I have no idea what the Paul Harvey is here, and I have a profound and abiding respect for all animals, especially those that are bigger than me, out-number me, sre stronger than me, or smarter than me.

    But I have to wonder if that bear was really hungry or really angry, or was playing.

  17. Ed
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

    Bear gotta eat!

  18. Fred Harwood
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    That clip comes from a website about polar bears. The guy made it back into the truck, and lived. The website is near or in Churchill, and tries to do a reputable job about the bears during their season of working the ice. National Geo, if memory serves, was supposed to finance a webcam for the moment, but failed to bring it on this past season. Those who run the website seemed to have immense respect for those cute bears.

  19. Fred
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

    Having seen what Polar bears can do to a seal or caribou, that guy is very, very lucky to be alive. They are very quick and kill humans very easily.

    Anyone who has ever been on the old DEW Line sites knows about Bear Protocols.

  20. tty
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

    Re 17

    I tend to agree with your suspicion that the bear is only curious and/or playful because nobody outruns a hungry Polar Bear. They may seem slow and clumsy, but they aren’t (I’ve seen a number).

    Still, they are most definitely on my list of animal that I feel respect for too. I also have a list of animals I’m really afraid of, but that only has two species on it: Homo sapiens and Plasmodium falciparum.

  21. joshua corning
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

    But I have to wonder if that bear was really hungry or really angry, or was playing.

    Watching a house cat play with a string and later with a mouse I have hard time really thinking that for predatory mammals there really is a difference between “playing” and “hungry”.

    and I am sure displays of anger are really only reserved for members of its own species.

  22. joshua corning
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    I tend to agree with your suspicion that the bear is only curious and/or playful because nobody outruns a hungry Polar Bear.

    People really underestimate the strategic abilities, compared to other animals, of the human mind.

    Look at the last two photos. the ability to get around the truck is different then being able to figure out what your prey/predator is going to do before they even know they are going to do it. The man can do that sort of mental proccessing…the bear cannot.

  23. christopher booker
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    Steve, that really is cheating us! How did the story end, for heaven’s sake?

  24. AnonyMoose
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

    This seems to have originally come from KTVA, but the URL is obsolete: “Polar bear chases man in Kaktovik – KTVA”

  25. George
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

    Hah quadrupeds can’t turn on a dime.

    o/ The biped and our ability to plant and go.

  26. AnonyMoose
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

    Assorted polar bear-man interaction commentary in blog entry at “Polar Bear Control”

  27. Joseph
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

    The bear may have just wanted to play, but their idea of play is a little too rough for me. Check out this video of polar bears playing with sled dogs.

    Does that brown and white dog look happy about the situation? I dunno…

  28. theduke
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

    A few weeks ago I was sent the same sequence of photos. I forwarded it to my father. He came back with a succinct response:

    “Brrrrrrr and Grrrrrr.

  29. Urederra
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

    I prefer beers.

  30. jae
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 6:15 PM | Permalink

    There are some times when you should NOT lock your truck.

  31. RDunn
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

    I thought it was a new Tums commercial –

  32. Jim Arndt
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    Our friend the polar bear

  33. DaveCF
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 7:57 PM | Permalink

    I consider myself lucky that my closest meeting with polar bears has been from an aircraft! I participated in a polar bear count up the eastern side of Hudson’s Bay many years ago; we counted 54 polar bears. There were huge depressions where generations of bears had scooped out the earth to get to cooler ground below. On another flight up the western side of Baffin Island I saw a mother and cub standing on top of a 3,000-foot cliff looking over the edge; no fear of heights those creatures but, then again, I don’t think they fear anything. On that same trip a myopic male was on his hind legs swinging at the aircraft – I guess his depth perception was a bit off and he thought we were a seagull. I’ve lived in the bush and had close encounters with black bears but I will keep a respectful distance from ursa maritimus…

  34. Steve H.
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

    The bear, “All I want is your coat,,, It’c gotten colder around here.”

  35. Les Johnson
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 9:01 PM | Permalink

    We had a lot of bears around the drilling rigs in the arctic, in the 70s and 80s.

    We did have dogs as early warning systems, which would work, until the wolves would eat the dogs.

    The feds didn’t allow weapons on the rigs…

    …until bears dragged a few guys off and ate them.

    • jae
      Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

      Re: Les Johnson (#38),

      “We had a lot of bears around the drilling rigs in the arctic, in the 70s and 80s.

      We did have dogs as early warning systems, which would work, until the wolves would eat the dogs.

      The feds didn’t allow weapons on the rigs…

      …until bears dragged a few guys off and ate them.”

      LOL. [self snip]

  36. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:10 PM | Permalink

    A reader suggested a dialog contest. How about balloon captions for this photo:

    Keep them witty. Avoid hackneyed comments.

  37. Les Johnson
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

    pure plagiarism on my part, but here goes my caption…

    “I love these things! Crunchy on the outside, and chewy and tasty on the inside!”

  38. tetris
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:19 PM | Permalink

    Steve Mc:

    I hunt for the freezer [no apologies included]: that includes clean [no-fish] upland black bear. From a cullinary perspective, should any of your readers know what wild boar tastes like, black bear is roughly that.

    Bears are very intelligent and hard-wired to do learn in a very focused way: show them something once and they’ve got it. As an example of a fundamental outdoors rule-of-thumb when dealing with bears: if you were to find yourself 10 ft away from an imaginary door and the bear is at 50 ft, you will not make it to the door. In the spirit of personal safety, I suggest nobody try to prove that advisory wrong..

    I have had black bears turn the tables on me in the bush in the most unexpected and unbelievable ways: tracks stopping dead in the snow. Having looked all around only to find a 4 ft vertical / side ways jump into some shrubs and the track then curving back around my own… [there is a lot to be said for carrying a 300 Win Mag in those circumstances…].

    Whoever are in the pictures in your post are very fortunate indeed to be alive. No ifs, buts or whats. Maybe hard to gauge from big city North America, but I would never have put myself or anyone I care about in that situation. Fact is, the polar bear is the black bear’s second most powerful cousin [on par with the grizzly and ranking behind the Alaskan Kodiak for sheer power], and crucially that polar bear is NOT playing. To him/her your folks are breakfast/lunch/dinner, as the case may be.

    And if I might add, listening to what the “boots on the ground” have to teach us both from Canada, US/Alaska, Norway and Russia, as opposed to the messages of various environmental groups [WFF, et. al.] there are plenty of polar bears around, populations generally in good health, and growing.

  39. page48
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:21 PM | Permalink

    Caption. Bear to Person, “You lost?”

  40. J. Peden
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:36 PM | Permalink


    Bear says to man, “What are you worried about, I’m the one who’s endangered.”

  41. Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

    Caption: Awh! C’mon! I just want a hug!

  42. Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

    Or bear to person: Your turn to drive!

  43. Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:52 PM | Permalink

    from my odd humor –



    Arctic warming explained

  44. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:52 PM | Permalink

    #45, 46. Pretty good.

  45. John Andrews
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 10:58 PM | Permalink

    Is that you, Mr. Gore?

  46. J. Peden
    Posted Jan 30, 2009 at 11:04 PM | Permalink

    Mama Black Bear with two cubs story:

    I was jogging along an old logging road once in a relatively remote area, when all of a sudden I heard some loud scratching-up-a-tree noise almost right in front of me. I knew what it was immediately, but it was too late to do anything but keep going. I looked around to locate and saw two cubs up a tree with Mama at the base about 20 yds. off. Fortuneately, the road was curving away from the bears, so I just kept jogging as if nothing was happening. Nothing did happen.

    I think my composure helped me, along with the fact, possibly, that Mama had a hard time figuring out just what the hell a jogging human actually was. I was packing a .38 pistol, which I usually carried for just such a chance encounter. It comforted me.

    • Bob McDonald
      Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

      Re: J. Peden (#49),

      Question: Was the .38 for the bear, or yourself?

      • Earle Williams
        Posted Feb 2, 2009 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

        Re: Bob McDonald (#70),

        The pistol is to shoot your buddy in the foot, that ensures that he is the slower one! 🙂

  47. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:42 AM | Permalink

    #46. IT is a weird place for a USHCN station – it’s indisputably rural.

  48. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:47 AM | Permalink

    Bear: Are you stuck? Here, let me give your truck a push.

    (I got stuck the other day on a sidestreet outside Starbucks. I parked and was in a snow-ice rut and couldn’t quite get out. One of the servers was shoveling snow and I got him to help push me out. HE pushed from about the same spot as the polar bear.)

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

      Re: Steve McIntyre (#51),

      (I got stuck the other day on a sidestreet outside Starbucks.

      So what trees were you coring that day?

  49. AnonyMoose
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:55 AM | Permalink

    “Thanks for putting the bags in the back, Joe, now get this bear out of the way so we can leave!”
    “This engine is hot. Come here, I want to try cooked food.”
    “It’s fine with me if you call ‘shotgun’ if you mean I’m driving.”
    “Clean your windshield for a buck, mister?”

  50. AnonyMoose
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

    Bear: “Excuse me, have you seen any moose?”

  51. Mikkel
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 3:12 AM | Permalink

    Bear: Have you found the keys???

  52. D. Patterson
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 5:05 AM | Permalink

    Look, all I want is the dataset, and I’ll go away. Really! Would I kid you?

  53. MartinGAtkins
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 5:15 AM | Permalink

    I think the Polar Bears are getting stroppy because penguins are getting all the publicity.

  54. James Erlandson
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:05 AM | Permalink

    Caption: Check the oil?

  55. Jeff Alberts
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 6:17 AM | Permalink

    Lol, didn’t see #59 before posting this…

  56. D. Patterson
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

    Michael? Forgot your hockey stick today, eh?

  57. BradH
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 7:33 AM | Permalink

  58. David Cauthen
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 7:55 AM | Permalink

    I just thank God they got a picture of the last polar bear on Earth! What are the odds?

  59. Bill Crow
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 9:27 AM | Permalink

    This is a great example of an old story — You do not have to be able to outrun a polar bear, You just have to be able to outrun your buddy who is with you.

    • J. Peden
      Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

      Re: Bill Crow (#64),

      A story along those lines, involving two guys I know quite well:

      The faster guy had wounded a bear. He went back and got the slower guy so that they both could track the bear and finish it. They found the bear, which then charged. The faster guy turned tail, taking off like a shot. The slower guy held his ground and finished off the bear. The way the slower guy described it was, “You should have seen the [faster guy’s] tracks up my back.” Sad comment.

  60. tty
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    As for going armed in bear country, here in Sweden bear-hunting is strictly regulated. It is however permissible to kill bears in self-defense, and it is a standing joke here that apparently bears don’t ever attack anybody who isn’t carrying a rifle.

  61. Scott Brim
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    “It was a bear market this year in AGW stock.”

  62. Robert M. Marshall
    Posted Jan 31, 2009 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

    The family and I went to Yellowstone a couple years back and took a photo safari with a park guide. We had a 1 in a million chance to see a Juvenile (5 year old) Grizzly up close and personal. They are agile, very agile. This one liked to hop on all fours to the top of rock peaks and upright logs. We managed to get a closer look, eventually he walked right past our tour bus. The claws impressed me the most, they are huge. The guide explained that the bear had no fear of humans (or anything else) since he ate anything he wanted to and nothing ate him. He further explained that the apparent curriousity these creatures display around humans was merely wondering what we taste like. As soon as I figure out the image posting tricks I’ll post a photo or two.

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