Many of us have never had the opportunity to witness a polar bear face to face, largely because they live in the remote regions of the Arctic far away from where humans reside.
If you are one of the lucky few that have seen a polar bear in the flesh, then you’ll know how intimidating and scary they are.
Without seeing a polar bear in the wild it’s easy to assume that these bears are easy-going bears, but fail to realize that these bears are fighting for survival every single day and can be desperate for food.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at polar bears and answer a question many people are interested to learn the answer to. Are polar bears dangerous?
Yes, polar bears are known to be one of the most dangerous animals on the planet. They are incredibly large carnivores and are especially dangerous to humans in their natural habitat. These apex predators are not afraid of humans whatsoever and if hungry they will not hesitate to attack people.
Are Polar Bears Aggressive?
Polar bears are the largest of the land carnivores and are known to be the most aggressive species of bear.
They should never be approached in the wild as there is a high chance that the polar bear may become aggressive and try to make a meal of you.
These apex predators often roam around the Arctic region incredibly hungry and fighting for survival, and given that they are much larger than humans they won’t pass up on the chance at an easy meal.
The icecaps they rely on to hunt seals are melting away at an alarming rate, meaning they have to venture to areas they never had to before which can mean they frequently encounter humans.
During confrontations, they will often signify their feelings by hissing, snorting, and lowering their heads.
Although there is a chance they may attack and be aggressive, they may also flee and not risk being injured or killed.
Polar bears are most aggressive in breeding season when trying to find a suitable mate, males will often fight with one another over food and the rights to mate with a female.
Do Polar Bears Attack Humans?
Although polar bear attacks on humans are rare, in recent years there have been around twenty total attacks on humans.
After investigating the attacks it was found that nearly two-thirds of the attacks were by adult males that were on the brink of starvation.
In 2017, a study published in The Wildlife Society bulletin found that “nutritionally stressed adult male polar bears” were the ones that pose the most serious threat to humans.
These bears are often starving and willing to do whatever it takes to find food, even if it means risking their lives by taking on a human.
Female polar bears are much less likely to attack humans, but they do still happen when they are protecting their cubs.
The study linked above is incredibly informative and details the reason why polar bear attacks on humans have increased dramatically over the years.
Between the years 1960 and 2009, the number of reported attacks on humans by polar bears was just 47.
Whereas during the period between 2010 and 2014, the number of attacks grew to 15, which was the highest number ever recorded in this small time frame.
The main reason behind the increased number of polar bear attacks is believed to be the rapid decline of Arctic ice caused by rising temperatures across the globe.
Polar bears are now spending a lot more time on land and moving inwards towards populated areas where they are encountering humans more and more.
It’s the sad reality of climate change that is seriously affecting polar bears and their ability to hunt and eat, making them more and more desperate.
Should I Be Scared Of A Polar Bear?
Polar bears in the wild are incredibly scary, and you most certainly should be concerned if you happen to come across one in the wild.
The bears are apex predators in their habitats and are not scared of humans. They will march confidently across the ice to check people out and size them up.
As mentioned, the polar bears in the Arctic are becoming incredibly desperate for food, meaning they will take more risks and confront humans if they think they might be able to eat.
Take a look at this amazing footage from BBC Earth of a giant polar bear checking out the camera crew:
Can A Human Survive A Polar Bear?
Polar bears are gigantic and can stand anywhere from 7 to 10 feet tall. They are the largest species of bear in the world and with that comes a lot of power.
The good news is that unless you find yourself anywhere near the Arctic circle, you are unlikely to run into a polar bear that wants you as its next meal.
However, polar bear attacks certainly do happen, but it is possible to survive a polar bear if you’re lucky and have put precautions in place.
If you’re heading into the tundra, then you’ll need to make sure you are fully prepared for every possible scenario, including being attacked by a polar bear.
The best way to protect yourself against an oncoming polar bear is to be armed with a firearm.
It’s rare to go into polar bear territory without a high-caliber weapon as this is one of the only forms of protection that will stop a polar bear in its tracks.
You’ll also want to ensure you are carrying bear pepper spray, as this is the most effective way to deter a polar bear from attacking.
Oh, and if you do find yourself being attacked by a polar bear, fight like your life depends on it, and don’t hold back. Use every trick in the book to get this bear off of you, as your life quite literally depends on it.
Has Anyone Ever Died From A Polar Bear?
Although fatalities from polar bears are rare, and much less common than attacks from brown bears, they sadly do happen.
In 2011, a polar bear mauled a 17-year-old British boy to death and seriously injured four other UK tourists.
Horatio Chapple, from Wiltshire, was with 12 others on a British Schools Exploring Society trip near a glacier on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.
In August 2020, a polar bear attacked and killed a 38-year-old man in Norway’s Arctic Spitsbergen island, the bear was then shot and found dead at the local airport.
Polar bears are seriously dangerous animals, they are the apex predator in their habitats and can attack without warning.
So, are polar bears dangerous? Yes, most certainly. These gigantic bears are aggressive in nature and are often starving, and do anything for food, even risking their lives to attack humans.
They are notoriously dangerous and can attack without warning, but thankfully you’ll likely never run into one in the wild as they live in the remote Arctic.
If you know you’re going to be in polar bear territory, then it’s important to do your research and prepare for every possible scenario, including a polar bear attack.
Hopefully, this post has been helpful and you’ve learned something new today about polar bears and why they are so dangerous.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to share it with others who may find it useful.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.