Aug 18, 2013 at 7:59 am #1306659
@doug-hLocale: Ontario. Canada
Mean while up in Canada;
Hikers woken by screams during Labrador polar bear attackAug 18, 2013 at 8:12 am #2016308
Nightmare, for the guy who got munched and for his co-campers.
Note the total failure of the portable electric fence. Pretty sure any Northerner would have told them so. Polar bears are not your average bear. They are furry tanks.
Also note that hikers in the Torngat are 'strongly advised' to have an armed escort. I understand this episode might lead Parks Canada to make it mandatory.Aug 18, 2013 at 9:31 am #2016322
"The bear ripped through the electric fence the group had set up around their campsite that night."
"Parks Canada strongly advises visitors to hire an armed bear guard during their stay, but it is not mandatory."Aug 18, 2013 at 10:47 am #2016334
@fluffinreach-comLocale: no. california
the advice to "have an armed polar bear guard" contains the half truths of most gov't utterances.
as a working Canadian Citizen you are precluded from having a firearm inside of the park. BUT as a sainted native of the north, you can carry one right on in. we are not capping on the first nation here, it is just that they retain rights that fairly should be avail to all peoples. obvious, pure, raw discrimination is what it is.
thusly to be correctly prepared for the multiple polar bear encounters that you will have in that area (it is currently infested with them) you would need to hire a native guide. if you are on a snow machine or hunting or such, then you can probably find one. if you are traveling on foot, as was the sierra club group …. good luck. carrying a pack ? this is not something northern natives are going to do. they are simply not set up for it. it does not really pertain to the way the live every normal day up there.
going by leaky boat ? across open water laden with slabs of ice ? with a motor that sputters and low on fuel ?? native is the way to go. not a problem.
need to get somewhere by snow machine because the weather is too hideous for the helicopter ? sledding across half snow, half rocks, crossing creeks during runoff as full throttle, and can not see 40 feet in front of you ? that is sop on the way to school for an inuit child.
but carrying a pack ??? are you Out of your White Honky Mind. and leave us be, go Away, you are an idiot from the south.
and That is how they came to not have an armed guard.
now the fine minds in Ottawa have said, "they may need to look at the policy". ohh , that's nice. how reactive. they guy's already well chewed upon. it's not as if they were not well informed about this some years ago.
stereotypical bureaucratical incompetence getting people killed. but that is nothing new. is it ?
if you deployed a normal electrified fence, and the terrain was insufficiently conductive (as much of the arctic is…) it would not have had any effect. nor will an "electric fence" issue any kind of warning that your perimeter has been breached.
to have an workable shock fence, one needs multiple conductors strung a various heights. which it's a big mess to erect every afternoon.
rf field motion detectors are not effective in the wind. ir detectors fail to reliably pick up the very weak thermal signature of white bears. if interested, look around a bit, and if you are wanting any sort of warning, you'll find it takes a perimeter alarm to do the trick.Aug 18, 2013 at 11:11 am #2016339
Peter, you are right, it's madness.
The Parks Canada ban on firearms is already bypassed in at least one National Park that I know of, Gros Morne. They've decided to cull the moose population (habitat damage from overgrazing) and now parts of the Park are open to moose hunting during the season.
That's on the island part of Newfoundland and Labrador, same province.Aug 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm #2016349
parks canada explicitly recommends hiring an armed guide in the brochure
yet the sierra club ad makes no mention of any armed guards … or warning about polar bear attacks …
why did they decide not to hire an armed guard?
hmmmmmAug 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm #2016350
"They've decided to cull the moose population (habitat damage from overgrazing)"
Sounds like there is a lack of predators, resulting in an uncontrolled herbivore population (much like we used to see in Yellowstone with Elk until they reintroduced wolves). Culls aren't very effective because they don't change the behaviour of the herbivores in the same way that the presence of a predator does, and they give the false impression that ecosystems need our meddling with. I'm not saying they don't work at all – just that they're a short term stop-gap measure, not an ecologically sound solution.
Anyways back on topic, it's too bad there was a lawyer in this group. Things are going to get litigious. Everyone or no one should be allowed guns. The native monopoly on them is ludicrous considering guns have nothing to do with their historical use of the land. One of the major ecological problems in the north is that native groups have retained their historical land use rights, while radically increasing their capacity to extract resources (snowmobiles, planes, guns, boats, harpoons). We see the tragic consequences of this with examples like the embattled Bathurst Caribou Herd (down 90% in the last 2 decades from ~350,000 animals to 30,000). I've worked in the north and talked with natives that have chartered a Hercules plane filled with pallets of ammo to hunt a plane full of caribou in one killing spree. The idea that nature is inexhaustible is still prevalent there, and we often see overuse followed by denial of a problem when faced with new rules that would limit extraction (ie. insisting the caribou are fine for years after it crashed and the scientists are all wrong, and more recently insisting the polar bear census's are wrong and there's actually lots so they should keep hunting more than ever). Back around 2007 Inuit groups still wanted to harvest 10-15K caribou annually from a herd now numbering 30k.
Anyways I digress. The polar bear incident is unfortunate but part of the normal risks you take when venturing into the wild. People should understand and accept the risks they take.Aug 18, 2013 at 1:18 pm #2016355
The lack of predators is exactly the problem. The Newfoundland wolf was exterminated ages ago. (Black bears take the odd calf or sick moose, but they like salmon and berries better.) The moose, on the other hand, is an introduced species. Caribou are native to Newfoundland. The moose were dropped on the island a century ago to help feed people. Now we have the world's highest population density.
So it's taken a while, but Nature hates a vacuum, and now wolf-coyote hybrids have crossed the ice from Labrador. ("Coyotes!" the goverment keeps insisting, "Just…really big, with different fur…" But a DNA analysis last year showed 90% wolf in a 'typical specimen'.)
The coy-wolves haven't been here long, but there's been a bounty put on them already. The official rationale is that they threaten a shrinking caribou population.Aug 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm #2016378
Probable Sierra Club TripAug 18, 2013 at 3:54 pm #2016396
Thanks for the info on coy-wolves B & B. The importance of "top down" (predator) ecosystem regulation is something we're just starting to appreciate – about a century after wiping out predator populations everywhere.
The moose vs caribou situations are complex and quite interesting also. Like NFLD, Northern Ontario is historically caribou country, but with some moose (I think) and no deer (north of Sudbury). Caribou have low reproductive rates but they faired alright because they hang out in the dense bush where wolves prefer not to travel. With habitat fragmentation (mostly logging, but also agriculture), it opened up the landscape for much more efficient wolf travel (the logging roads more so than the actual clear cuts) which had disastrous consequences for the caribou. We can try to support the woodland caribou all we want, but they're fundamentally in a bad spot until all of the logging roads grow in. Caribou can't readily out run a wolf (like a deer can) and they fair poorly when trying to stand their ground in the bush (unlike a moose which stands a fair chance).
The Ontario government largely agrees with the situation, but the logging industry runs the parks in Ontario (ie. the Ministry of Natural Resources runs Ontario Parks) which is why virtually all "protected areas" have either been already heavily exploited (most of them) or they're currently open to dramatic resource extraction (ie. Algonquin). Most Ontarians have no idea that Algonquin Park – a park widely sold as an example of pristine Ontario wilderness – is actually being over 80% actively logged. If it's out of eyesight from the hiking trails and main canoe routes then resource extraction is encouraged and subsidized. This pro-resource extraction spin is apparent even on the Ontario Species at Risk website, where they make whitewashed statements like "forest management practices have created a diverse forest landscape that has not favoured [the caribou]".
Even the national parks in Ontario are in big trouble. The largest National Park is Pukaskwa, and the caribou were extirpated from there last year after the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources built a whole slew of fresh clearcuts and logging roads all around the park which ramped up wolf predation to the already embattled herd.
To be clear, this isn't just about the caribou. It's about diminishing ecological integrity on a widespread basis. We're losing species and ecological resilience, which hurts us directly (air and water quality, nutrient cycling) and indirectly (fisheries crashing, out of control invasives and pests).
I'm far from unbiased, but most logging is ridiculous and should be stopped. Especially what little old growth is left (which most Canadians are ignorant of). We log far more wood than we need to, so we can ship it overseas for minimal to negative profits. I say negative because the industry is heavily subsidized and it's a net drain to taxpayers much of the time. Logged areas are a travesty, as the habitat dries out (killing all amphibian life), it opens the landscape to invasive species and destroys the balance of a climax system. The ecological impacts (which affect us too!) are far greater than most realize and most people go with it because they assume incorrectly that it's a substantial driver of the economy. Most of the time it's a select few profiting thru subsidized exploitation of Canadian resources.
Okay back to polar bear attacks….Aug 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm #2016424
@drusillaLocale: Wild Wild West
To me polar bears are like great white sharks…..if you are in the water and one shows up you'd better have something that equalizes the situation or you are dinner for sure.
As a rancher I can say with experience that electric fences are "training" devices, and I've seen pleanty of animals go right through them cause they were not trained to respect a thin wire. Polar bears are not necessarily trained to respect electric wire, regardless of strength of charge.
But it sounds like the polar environment is not really even good for that?
How about a fire extinguisher sized bear spray? Add some color and you could see the ones who've been "educated".Aug 19, 2013 at 8:50 am #2016560
After alot polar bear attacks, they may need to consider changing the name to Torngut Mountains National Park.Aug 26, 2013 at 9:45 pm #2018898
@fluffinreach-comLocale: no. california
" We see the tragic consequences of this with examples like the embattled Bathurst Caribou Herd (down 90% in the last 2 decades from ~350,000 animals to 30,000
and on the other hand we experiences such as: i walked to, and paddled across Bluenose Lake, which is pretty much Ground Zero of caribou habitat, and herd reductions from hunting aside (they do shoot quite a few of them) it is as overgrazed as any place i have ever seen. they herd appears out of food in it's core area. there is nothing left to eat.
i seen as much caribou terrain as most any guy from the south, and that is some eaten-to-the-bone land.
i was not looking for information or bias or anything when i did that walk. i was simply covering turf. it is an open and independent observation.
the turf certainly looks overgrazed.
there are animals wandering aimlessly (more aimless than their usual clueless routine), and not having their heads down as often as it would be nice to see them.
up there is an arctic ecosystem. it grows wildly, it dies, it's all over the map. stability is a foreign concept.
things are not helped by a native population with a sustained population growth rate in excess of 6%.
caribou populations are touchy subject up north. nice place to walk though ….
v.Sep 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm #2021075
The Bluenose Herd situation is an interesting one. I don't know much about it, other than hearing talk about some communities considering hunting there with the Bathurst Herd out of consideration for the next while.
I have read a moderate amount of the scientific literature on caribou, and the sentiment there seems to be that food abundance is very rarely a population limit on caribou. Caribou have diet preferences, but they are extremely versatile and can switch to other plant species when their main food sources are exhausted. Food access (ie. buried under snow) is a real density independent limit on caribou, which seems to have played a big role in recent Bathurst declines (and then non-adjusted hunting levels made the situation worse). Then again, if the Bluenose caribou have lost their predators (ie. overhunting of wolves) the population could have exploded and exhausted their food sources in a way that isn't normally possible – again I know nothing of the actual situation. Obviously the situation you saw was causing some food stress – whether though behavioural changes (switching to other foods or foraging areas) or through actual energy shortages. The ecology of caribou is neat stuff.Sep 3, 2013 at 3:12 pm #2021415
more at link ….
A Maine man who survived a polar bear attack in Canada said that going into the park unarmed was a risk he was willing to take, but he acknowledges, "It's a gamble I nearly lost."
Matthew Dyer, who was dragged from his tent by a bear a month ago, said he wouldn't have traveled to the remote Torngat Mountains National Park in northern Labrador if he'd thought his safety depended on his ability to kill a bear.
"My desire to travel to wild areas like the Torngats will always be outweighed by the rights of the animals in that park to exist," Dyer told The Associated Press in an email. "Life is full of risks, and going to the Torngats unarmed was a risk I was willing to take. It's a gamble I nearly lost."
Sep 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm #2021418
"The bite Mezzetta sustained by the large bear was strong enough to go through his heavy-duty work boots and puncture his skin. He required several stitches."
Hmm. There's an element of the boots-vs-trailrunners debate I haven't seen discussed. ;)Sep 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm #2021442
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
>"There's an element of the boots-vs-trailrunners debate I haven't seen discussed"
And when it is discussed, it is typically about protection from snake bite – a potential problem in an entirely different climate.Sep 5, 2013 at 6:34 pm #2022257
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Canada has VERY wierd gun laws and even bear spray laws (can't use tehm against human "animals".
If I was a Canadian woman I'd say "Screw 'em, I'm carrying peppers spray and my attorney can sort it out after I've dispatched the mugger/rapist."
GOD! Frikkin' Canadian Liberals and their nannying laws – and I'm an American Democrat!Sep 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm #2022271
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Well, it's their country — who are we to judge?Sep 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm #2022314
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
"GOD! Frikkin' Canadian Liberals and their nannying laws – and I'm an American Democrat!"
Yet in other ways they're less liberal, like they're more into chopping down trees and laying waste to tracts of land for oil sand mining.
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