In Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, known as the polar bear capital of the world, a man who used his cellphone light to scare off a 400-pound polar bear says he’s lucky to be alive with only a few superficial puncture wounds and scratches.
Garett Kolsun was walking home early Saturday morning in the Hudson Bay community of Churchill after celebrating the end of the work week with friends. He said he caught something out of the corner of his eye while he walked down the Manitoba town’s main drag.
“I turned and looked, and it was a polar bear charging towards me,” Kolsun, 40, said in an interview Monday. “I started running from it, looking for some place to go and get away from this bear.”
Businesses in the town of about 1,000 were all closed, so Kolsun had nowhere to hide.
“I stopped and I turned around to face the bear,” he said. “It was already there, right on top of me. I started shouting, yelling, screaming, waving my arms, running backwards to keep my eye on the bear.”
Kolsun said he ended up trapped on the porch of a bakery with the bear he believes was still young because of its size. It pinned him against the door and swiped at him with his paw. The bruin, which stood about five feet tall, also sank his teeth into Kolsun’s hip, although Kolsun says that, at the time, he didn’t even realize the bear had punctured his skin.
“The bear’s nose was inches away from me. I didn’t know where else to go. I was just (thinking), ‘what can I do to get away from this bear?’ That’s all I kept thinking about. I didn’t want to be a stat.”
Kolsun fished into his pocket and pulled out his cellphone. He turned the power on and turned the screen toward the bear.
“I was hoping anything I would do would give me an opportunity to get away from it,” he explained. “I was trying anything at that point. I was screaming, yelling, waving my arms, trying everything and it just kept chasing me and chasing me. I was just hoping for the best and, luckily, it worked.”
The lit screen startled the bear briefly and it took a step back, Kolsun said. It hit a flower pot on the porch and looked away for an instant.
“When it turned its head, I just turned and ran as fast as I could.”
Kolsun said he ran several blocks, looking for a home with its lights on. He saw some people sitting on a deck and ran to them. When he turned around, the polar bear was gone.
“The bear had stopped chasing me some place along the way there.”
Kolsun took a cab to a health center where staff cleaned his wounds, bandaged them and gave him a tetanus shot. He was released several hours later. Monday morning, he was back on the job as a Canadian Border Services guard.
“I was definitely very lucky,” Kolsun said. “He could have hurt me worse.”
The bear was captured later on Saturday and taken to the provincial polar bear jail, a transformed military warehouse with 28 holding cells for stray bears, in Churchill. Conservation Manitoba says the animal is being assessed.
Polar bears killing humans is still very rare. The last fatal attack in Churchill was in 1983, when a resident who scavenged packages of ground beef from a burned-out hotel ran into a bear.
Kolsun said he has a new-found respect for the bears, which can reach 1000 pounds and run as fast as 25 miles an hour.
“Don’t walk alone after dark, make sure you catch a ride or drive or go in a cab,” he said. “Unfortunately, I learned the hard way.”
The panda cub born last month at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is female, zoo staff announced Thursday, Sept. 5. Not-to-mention, really, really cute ^_^
Through genetic testing, Smithsonian scientists confirmed the sex of the cub, born on Aug. 23 to panda mom Mei Xiang. A paternity test also revealed that the baby bear’s father is Tian Tian, the zoo’s male panda.
Both mom and the tiny female cub appear to be healthy, but keepers are maintaining a close watch over the pair, mostly through a camera that’s always turned on in the panda den. The cub will be named when she is 100 days old, in keeping with Chinese tradition.
Conservationists estimate that there are just 1,600 pandas left in the wild. Captive breeding is one way to help bolster the species’ population numbers and boost genetic diversity. Two other panda cubs were born this year in the United States. Zoo Atlanta’s female bear Lun Lun gave birth to twin panda cubs, both male, on July 15. Every panda birth is one step closer to saving the species.
The return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, may be leading to an improvement in the diet of grizzly bears, a study suggests, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.
When wolves were eradicated from Yellowstone in the early 20th Century, the elk population boomed, devastating berry-shrubs relied upon by bears. A team from Oregon and Washington links the reintroduction of predatory wolves with a decline in over-browsing by elk.
There is a consequent recovery in the availability of late-summer berries, the favoured pre-hibernation food of the grizzly bear. The study indicates that the number of berries measured in bear droppings has doubled as elk numbers have decreased, following the wolves’ return in the 1990s. The complex interactions of the Yellowstone ecosystem were revealed in data measured before and after the reintroduction of wolves.
David Mattson, a US Geological Survey (USGS) wildlife biologist, commented previously on Yellowstone: “It’s a complex system and grizzly bears are a kind of consummate connector of all of the species in that system.”
The study shows that berry shrubs have increased since elk populations declined, and as shrubs recover from over-browsing the fruit consumption of bears has increased.
William Ripple, lead author, commented: “Wild fruit is typically an important part of grizzly bear diet, especially in late summer when they are trying to gain weight as rapidly as possible before winter hibernation”.
“Elk browsing reducing berry production is well known in Europe as well,” said Atle Mysterud, an ecologist from the University of Oslo.
“The study shows that new patches of berries have formed after the wolves were reintroduced. It is clear that berry production is very important for bears.”
“This is an interesting paper and it is important that we understand the consequences of wolf recovery”, Dr Middleton added.
The latest results demonstrate that acknowledging the many inter-relationships between species and environments in these systems is key to understanding that complexity.
The Airline, WestJet, published a video today about their new “furry family” program, that lets anybody take any animal on the plane with them. So thoughtful.
Halloween may be over, but there are still extra pumpkins everywhere, so here’s what San Diego’s Sea World polar bears and otters did with them. So Cute!
Happy Ottersday ^_^
According to a new study done in Minnesota, published in the scientific journal Animal Behavior, bears just may rival primates in their cognitive abilities.
Their research shows that captive bears could perform numerical tasks, including distinguishing the number of dots on an image. Even though bears have the largest relative brain size of any carnivore (still not as big as primates), surprisingly little research has been done on their cognitive abilities. Until Now.
Dave Garshelis, bear project leader at the Minnesota Dept. of Resources, said “the bears may have found it relatively easy to respond to the color of the dots because they resemble berries, one of the black bear’s main food sources. For instance, black bears are able to discern the preferred ripe blackberries, which are black, from unripe blackberries, which are red.”
Overall, the finding may open up possibilities for comparing the cognitive abilities of bears and primates.
“It is exciting to consider,” the study said, “that such divergent species can be tested in the same way to promote a fuller picture” of animal smarts.