Polar bears: Close encounters between Arctic animals and humans on the rise | Alaska Dispatch
Nunavut, Canada -- Daisy Arnaquq is used to seeing polar bears on the hour-long boat ride to her cabin near the community of Qikiqtarjuaq, located on the southeast coast of Baffin Island, the largest island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. In the last five years, she and her family would encounter about one polar bear every summer, and "they would just take off right away," she said.
But this year three female bears with cubs paid them visits.
"The dogs would start barking, and we'd look out the window and see the mother with two cubs coming into our camp ... It's scary. You don't know what they are going to do -- attack you, destroy your property."
Internationally, three people have been killed by polar bears in the last three months, including a British teenager on Norway's Spitsbergen island, a 33-year-old man in the eastern Russia region of Chukotka and a technician working at a weather station in Russia's Franz Josef Land.
Polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher of the University of Alberta blames melting ice and climate change.
From July 2010 to July 2011, about 48 problem bears were killed in Nunavut.
Increases in bears sighted in or near communities can also be linked to lower harvest numbers and timing of polar bear hunts, he said. If hunters go out earlier, bears are harvested before they can reach the community.