Updated:
Original:

Climate change could mean polar bears find a new food source – us

Melting ice caps could force the world's largest land predator further inland.
Author:

If you find yourself face-to-face with a hungry polar bear, it's pretty much game over.

And because of the changing climate, there could be more encounters between polar bears and people in the future, as melting Arctic ice could see the bears turn to humans as a source of food.

They are the largest land predators in the world and primarily eat seals. If the globe continues to heat, causing ice melt toward the North Pole, the bears in desperation could look to us as a way of surviving.

That's the prediction made in a scientific paper published this month called "Polar Bear Attacks on Humans: Implications of a Changing Climate," which looks at historic cases of polar bear attacks on humans.

They found 73 instances of attacks by wild polar bears between 1870 and 2014 – spread across Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia and the U.S.

But 15 of those (20 percent) occurred from 2010-2014, a period marked by "historically low summer sea ice extent and long, ice-free periods," the report notes.

When the ice melt is particularly bad, polar bears find it more difficult to hunt the seals they rely upon for sustenance, staking out gaps in the ice floating out in sea that seals use when coming up for air. With warmer temperatures comes less ice, making it easier for seals to escape bears' clutches. This, in turn, could force them to seek food in human encampments.

"A bear's still got to eat," study author Geoff York, of Polar Bears International, told the Washington Post, "They're more likely to try new things, and sometimes, that might be us."

What to do when a polar bear attacks

Now you might know some of the basics of how to act when confronted with a brown bear (stay calm, play dead if attacked) and a black bear (make lots of noise and try to escape/fight back). Things are a little different with polar bears.

The first tip on this Mother Nature Network guide to surviving a polar bear attack is "Good luck," which gives you something of an idea what you're dealing with.

But once you've used up your luck, the website suggests you "don't act like prey" by running away (they're faster than you, so you won't get far).

They do suggest you act like a threat – which it may just ignore anyway if it's hungry, but still it's worth trying.

"Stand up straight, speak loudly and act like it should be scared of you."

Your best bet is using bear spray to ward off any potential threat, but if the bear still attacks the advice is "don't give up."

Playing dead won't stop the bear, as it wants food. And you won't beat a 1-ton polar bear in hand-to-paw combat. So all you can do is keep trying – trying to injure its nose or eyes, and staying clear of its swinging paws that can kill a person in a single strike.

Next Up

mickey moore driver's license shared

Beleaguered Ward 9 city council candidate loses Strib endorsement

Mickey Moore has faced questions in recent days about where he actually lives.

CDC biohazard scientist health work

New clue may explain how rare tropical disease sickened Minnesotan

The disease, known as melioidosis, killed 2 people earlier this year.

Sen Mark Koran crop

MN lawmaker encourages donations for locals charged in Jan. 6 insurrection

"They are a good family!" Sen. Mark Koran wrote Friday.

money

Money Gal Coaching: Mastering the spiritual parts of money

Kelly Blodgett used her passion behind becoming debt free to launch Money Gal Coaching.

University of minnesota sign

U of M will now require proof that employees have been vaccinated for COVID

Previously, only students were required to be vaccinated.

Jim Hagedorn

Report reveals details about ethics investigation into Rep. Hagedorn

The congressman described the report's findings as "unfounded conclusions."

33462769592_d32f34fd48_k

SkyWest cancels hundreds of flights due to server error

More than 80 have been canceled at MSP Airport.

elk

First elk in more than 100 years spotted in parts of southern WI

The elk population was reintroduced to Wisconsin in recent decades.

grand marais

10 beautiful Minnesota cities to visit for outdoor adventures

These places are perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

Related

Study: Climate change could wallop some states' economies

But Minnesota might get one of the softer blows.

Changes at Kraft Foods could mean fewer jobs at New Ulm plant

Kraft Foods Group says it plans to restructure its plants in New Ulm, Minn., Champaign, Ill., and Springfield, Mo. The New Ulm Journal reports the Illinois-based food and beverage conglomerate plans to invest $25 million in new packaging equipment and related infrastructure, but as many as 90 jobs in Minnesota could eliminated. The changes will take place throughout next year.

MN schools could soon start teaching climate change as human-caused

It's part of the draft science education standards proposed by the state.

Askov Finlayson pledges $1M to climate change action groups

The champions of "The North" will donate more than the cost of the company's environmental impact.

Here's what that climate change report means for MN

Sen. Tina Smith is drawing attention to what could happen in the midwest.