в нашем саду живет медведь!
Il y a un ours dans notre jardin!
Det er en bjørn i hagen vår!
There's a bear in our garden!
As mentioned in previous posts, one of the biggest issues that polar bears are facing is a lack of food due to climate change. Increasing global temperatures have caused a huge amount of their environment to disappear (especially during summer months), making it extremely difficult for them to reach their usual prey, and to hunt them if they do manage to reach them.
Not only are they facing a lack of food due to a reduction in their environment, they're also being forced to live further inland, too. Being forced to live inland and being extremely hungry is not a great combination for the humans living nearby. Several countries with Arctic coastlines, such as Russia, Canada, Norway, and the United States, have been facing an increase in issues with polar bears entering human villages in search of food. Recently, in Russia, there was an instance of more than 50 polar bears descending on a village at once.
As I mentioned in my post "Polar Bears - An Overview", polar bears have the ability to smell food from up to 25 miles away. Their incredible sense of smell is now leading them to... bins. I remember being at home when I was about 6 or 7 years old, and seeing a fox knock over and root through the bins in our front garden. My brother was at the next window along, shouting to my Mum "there's a fox in our garden!". If you think we have a problem with foxes over here in the UK, imagine a polar bear rooting through your bins in your front garden instead...
And, they're not stopping there. There has also been an increasing number of reports of polar bears entering people's homes in search of food. This has, inevitably, led to an increase in human-polar bear encounters, too. This has raised concern for the safety of not just the humans, but the polar bears too. If a polar bear enters a human village, the humans are always going to be put before the safety of the bear. However, the bear is only there because they're in need of food, and they can no longer reach their usual food sources because of the actions of humans. In Canada alone, around 20 to 25 polar bears are killed every year in the defence of human life.
Another issue with polar bears eating human rubbish is that they're digesting extremely harmful materials, such as plastics and metals. The video below shows a polar bear pleading for help from a human after getting a tin can stuck in its mouth. Usually, polar bears wouldn't be so non-confrontational around humans.
The smell of the rubbish isn't the only thing attracting polar bears to human villages. There are three animals in the world that will actively hunt humans for food; large snakes, large crocodiles and... polar bears.
Currently, there are a few ways that people are trying to deter polar bears from human areas. One of these is the use of "polar bear patrols". Groups of scientists and armed forces work together in the patrols in order to track the polar bears and deter them from getting close to villages. They do this by using a combination of things such as loud noises, rubber bullets and smoke.
Another way that people are trying to deter the bears from coming into human areas is by managing their waste systems better. With better waste management and less rubbish, polar bears should be less likely to come into the villages in search of food. However, as mentioned, polar bears will actively hunt humans for food, and so I'm not sure how effective waste management strategies will be.
Personally, I don't think the current ways of deterring polar bears from human villages are effective, or particularly ethical. Even just scaring them away using smoke and loud noises, let alone shooting them with rubber bullets, is particularly beneficial to the bears themselves; just to the humans who are being protected, instead. Now, I understand that this is, in a way, protecting the bears because they're less likely to be shot for coming into contact with humans. However, scaring animals who have already been forced into an unknown, uncomfortable environment with a lack of food and basic resources is, in my opinion, completely unacceptable and not the correct way to deal with the issue. It also isn't solving the issue of the lack of food, which is what's causing the polar bears to come into the human villages in the first place.
As I've also stated in the post, polar bears aren't just entering villages becasue of the rubbish. They will actively hunt humans for food, too. Therefore, I can't see how one of the current, main strategies for deterring them (waste management) is going to solve the issue.
I will discuss potential, alternative ideas that I have in a future blog post.