Polar bears are North America’s largest land carnivore. They can be distinguished from a Black and Grizzly bear because they are white and huge! If you see one and it hasn’t seen you, quickly and calmly leave the area.

The average adult male is 2.6 metres long and weighs over 400 kilograms. The females are 2 metres long and over 225 kilograms.

They spend their entire life near the Arctic pack ice. They are excellent swimmers and will swim from ice floe to ice floe. They have been seen swimming 80 kilometres from any ice or land and at a speed of up to 5 kilometres per hour. They are rarely found more than 110 kilometres from shore.


The polar bear is the most deadly of all bears. While their meal of choice is a seal, they have been known to stalk, hunt and attack humans.  The First Nations peoples of the north have a great respect for the animals and have lived in harmony for centuries.  When you are in polar bear habitat, carry a firearm… harmony won’t save you when attacked by a hungry and determined carnivore the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, and claws bigger than Freddy Krueger’s.

Avoid Attacks

Consider the following:
  • Be Alert,
  • Polar bears are unpredictable,
  • Keep away from food sources,
  • Keep a clean camp,
  • Carry a weapon,
  • Travel with others,
  • Do not approach them for any reason,
  • Use a bear fence,
  • Have an armed sentry when sleeping (not a joke),
  • Do not get between a female and her cubs.

An Encounter

Consider the following:
  • Get into a vehicle and leave,
  • Do not run. Stand your ground unless you can move away slowly to a safe shelter,
  • Drop your pack or items of clothing, and slowly move away,
  • Gather together in a group, and make yourself look bigger by holding a jacket over your head,
  • Shout, blow a whistle, and make noise,
  • Prepare your will!

The Bear Attacks

Consider the following:
  • Find safe shelter,
  • Defend yourself,
  • If you become between a mother and her cubs, attempt to remove yourself as a threat to the cubs. Do not fight back,
  • Pray!

Reference: Polar Bears International



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