Don't mess with the bears

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Science  07 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6248, pp. 581
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6248.581

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With sea ice receding, polar bears may be venturing more on land, creating new risks for scientists. At the Ny-Ålesund research station on Norway's Svalbard archipelago, scientists are changing their behaviors to protect themselves. These changes include devoting researchers to bear guard duty, avoiding staying in tents, and being extra aware when on base. Four million people live north of the Arctic Circle; only one or two polar bear attacks are reported a year. But the risk has inspired Maarten Loonen, a Dutch ecologist, to tell students who come to do research on Ny-Ålesund that if they take a picture of a bear they will be sent home. Better to get to safety.

  • * Ny-Ålesund, Norway