Deadly polar bear attack in Alaska: an extremely rare case

Deadly polar bear attack in Alaska: an extremely rare case

By Le Figaro with AFP

Posted 1 hour ago, Updated 1 hour ago

Due to climate change and human presence, polar bears face many difficulties in feeding themselves. STEVEN C. AMSTRUP / POLAR BEARS INTERNATIONAL / AFP

A young woman and her baby were killed after a polar bear invaded their village. The Ursid does not typically venture into inhabited areas.

An attack that raises many questions. A 24-year-old woman and her child were killed by a polar bear in a remote Alaskan village, state officials said Jan. 18. The event is extremely rare for this species, which is particularly threatened by climate change. The bear entered Wales on Tuesday, a small town on the banks of the Bering Strait, “and chased several residents,” according to the first elements released by that American state’s police force in a press release.

“The attack allegedly took place in the village near the school” and “the animal was shot by a resident” as she attacked young woman Summer Myomick and her one-year-old son Clyde Ongtowasruk, she said. Police and specialized agents must be sent to this village of about 150 people, inhabited by the Inupiat tribe. However, according to the press release, they are currently facing “poor weather conditions” that prevent them from going there.

“Historically, it’s very rare for a polar bear to attack and kill a person anywhere in the Arctic,” Geoff York of NGO Polar Bears International told Geoff York. “It’s even rarer for this to happen in mid-January in the northern Arctic, where ice is plentiful and polar bears are usually out on the pack ice to hunt seals.”

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threat of climate change

According to the NGO, 20 people were killed in a total of 73 polar bear attacks worldwide between 1870 and 2014. The last fatal attack in Alaska dates back to 1990, according to Geoff York. In general, the melting of sea ice caused by global warming is pushing sea turtles onto the continent more regularly and “increasing the frequency of interactions between polar bears and humans,” the scientist continues.

But “historically, most of the attacks happened between late July and early December, during the ice-free period,” added Geoff York. The attacks are usually from “young bears (…) who are ravenous because their bodies need energy for their growth” or “end-of-life bears who have difficulty finding good hunting grounds with the other bears fight, performed,” he summarized.

Evidenced by the case of a French tourist attacked by a polar bear last summer in Svalbard, a territory belonging to Norway. The person was attacked in their camp. Dispelled with gunshots, the animal had to be killed – injured. A situation that Christian Kempf denounces in the columns of Figaro. The specialist in this large animal called for better regulation of tourism in the region and reported an alarming situation. “[Les ours] are threatened by the simple destruction of their habitat, the sea ice (…) In twenty years the consequences will be dramatic.”

In the case of Wales, one has to wait until the investigation has run its course to really understand what happened. In Alaska, polar bears are found only on the extreme north and west coasts of the state. As on Spitsbergen, climate change is threatening the Ursids, which are melting their main habitat, the pack ice.

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