Days ago, the world fell in love with a viral video of nature at work. However, unbeknownst to many who swooned over the moment, a dark ending occurred at the same location.
Last week, ABC News and other outlets reported about an anomaly in the animal kingdom: a polar bear was observed petting an Eskimo dog in the town of Churchill, Manitoba. Video footage showed a hulking apex predator sitting aside a chained Husky. Instead of making a meal of the hapless animal, the bear engaged in a moment of compassion.
Nothing to see here, just polar bear cuddling dog https://t.co/SmI78WkXKV
— RT (@RT_com) November 19, 2016
David de Muelles, a tour bus driver, captured the heartwarming and “beautiful” moment. Muelles, of Northstar Tours in Canada, described how he noticed the rare interaction between the polar bear and sled dog.
“This big bear had just woken up from a cat nap and stopped right by the dog. The bear then just started gracefully petting the dog like a human.”
“It was incredible to see such a powerful animal be so friendly with such a small dog. Normally, these animals are known as killers.”
Muelles described the moment as so surreal that it brought one passenger aboard the bus to tears. He described being happy for an unnamed woman who was ecstatic over the bear’s gentle touch.
CBC News wrote a disturbing update about the same location where the polar bear was seen rubbing the canine. Reportedly, another bear attacked and ate another dog in the pack days earlier.
Brian Ladoon lives in Churchill and operates the Mile 5 Dog Sanctuary. The Manitoba Endangered Species and Ecosystem Act reads that “No person shall kill, injure, possess, disturb, or interfere with an endangered species, a threatened species, or an extirpated species that has been reintroduced.”
Ladoon knows it’s unlawful to feed the large carnivores. Still, he does so to prevent attacks on his dog team. Dog sled owners and law enforcement officials are stumped over employing strategies to prevent clashes between bears, dogs, and humans.
Sled dog killed by polar bear days before viral video surfaced of bear petting dog https://t.co/cJIJbU0hng
— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) November 18, 2016
A spokesperson from the Manitoba Sustainable Development describes the vicarious situation.
“Conservation officers had to immobilize a bear in that area last week and move it to the holding facility because it killed one of his dogs.”
“A mother and cub were also removed because there were allegations the bears were being fed and the females’ behavior was becoming a concern.”
Polar bears have grown accustomed to being fed by humans. These large creatures depend on pack ice and typically prey on seals. However, with large-scale ice melts, the bears are coming closer to humans in search of alternative food sources. Chained dogs present easy pickings and when demand outpaces supply, clashes take place at the bears’ expense, as one expert describes.
Ian Stirling is a wildlife expert from the Arctic and Antarctic ecology from the University of Alberta.
“It’s basically a death sentence for the bears,” he said.
Muelles says the bear seen petting the Husky had just stirred up from a moment of slumber. His seemingly low energy likely explains why he didn’t see the dog as a food source at the time. Normally, bears exhibit this type of behavior when waking up from hibernation.
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) November 21, 2016
After waking, bears are usually lethargic from low energy and body fat. Based on the season and cycle, it’s unlikely that the large mammal had been hibernating.
As National Geographic explains, adult polar bears weigh between 900 to 1,600 pounds(410 to 720 kg) and feast only on meat and have no natural enemies. As such, it’s understandable why the bear seen caressing the dog spared its life.
[Featured Image by iStock]