Say you’re hanging around your garden when suddenly a group of youths enter uninvited and begin acting like they own the place and you’re the intruder. What do you do?
Let’s make it clearer …
Your garden is in a remote area that requires a great deal of effort to reach, therefore visitors are very rare. Not only is this where you hang, it also provides all your food and shelter and needs constant vigilance as life is very difficult, resources spare, and defending what you have is the only chance of survival for you and your family. Historically, trespassers create havoc, steal what little food can be found and leave a mess.
So … do you welcome this surprise visit? Do you greet the interlopers with open arms and a comfy cushion, then go hide in your room so as not to annoy them with your presence?
If you happen to be a polar bear whose garden is the frozen north of Norway, you might not.
As today’s news shows, hospitality may be lacking, and the cost of a less-than-warm welcome is high.
Four victims of an Arctic polar bear attack that left a 17-year-old British boy dead are recovering, according to the UK’s ambassador to Norway.
Jane Owen, who visited the survivors in hospital, said they were talking and responding well to treatment.
Horatio Chapple, 17, from Wiltshire, was killed during a British Schools Exploring Society trip near a glacier on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.
The four who were hurt – two severely – included two leaders of the trip.
While some of the uninvited are recovering, the bear, of course, is dead.
Yes, I feel sorry for the dead kid, for his family, for those wounded, and find the whole situation tragic, but I’m also sorry for the bear, for its family, and can’t help but be more than a bit pissed off about the idea that an experience for humans too often comes as the cost of life for the creatures who inhabit the small spaces left available.
Contrary to popular thought, the world is not Disneyland and not everything on the planet needs to include people, even when they can afford the E Ticket.
Lars Erik Alfheim, vice-governor of Svalbard, said polar bears were common in the area, adding that they are “extremely dangerous” and can “attack without any notice”.
Mr Alfheim said there was no policy to ban travelling to the islands, but he added it was a wild environment and there were “a number of precautions that one needs to take when travelling here”.
And some of those “precautions” just might include being ready to kiss your ass goodbye if the locals take issue with your presence. Seems appropriate prep for a group who, ” … organises scientific expeditions to remote areas to develop teamwork and a spirit of adventure.”
Where humans and polar bears cross, bears lose, and lose big time:
Between 1980 and 1985 in Alaska, there was only one recorded injury caused by a polar bear, and no deaths
Over a 15-year period in Svalbard, Norway, other researchers documented polar bears killing one person and injuring three others. At least 46 polar bears were killed by people in the same time frame
In a 20-year period in Canada, six human deaths and 14 injuries were attributed to polar bears. During the same period, 251 bears were killed by people “in defence of life and property”
The spirit of a bear dead in the cause of a “spirit of adventure” makes no sense to me, and I can’t help but think teamwork could have been just as easily developed through a scavenger hunt on the Jungle Cruise. After all, it is in Adventureland.