Nature can be cruel and fickle, a fact not lost on viewers of a recent video gone viral which shows a sweet, gentle, and sedate polar bear lovingly petting a chained-up husky. With all of the political ugliness happening across social media lately, you can certainly understand the impulse people have to escape back to a more innocent time, one in which humans live peacefully together side by side and where animals who would normally be predatory embrace one another. And yes, in this world even polar bears are found petting sled dogs.
This world happens to be Mile 5 Dog Sanctuary in Churchill, Canada, and this is where the video was shot. Unfortunately, this film didn’t have a very happy ending, as the same polar bear that you see stroking the sled dog went and killed another husky in the same pack only hours later.
But, perhaps this is to be expected. Nature cannot and will not be tamed. And there is also a backstory to this all that teaches us a lesson. The lesson? Make sure you don’t break official wildlife rules when you’re living in the province of Manitoba in Canada.
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
As it turns out, the polar bear that was filmed petting the husky in the video was being fed steadily and illegally by Brian Ladoon, who runs the Mile 5 Dog Sanctuary in Churchill, Canada. Ladoon has said that he used to regularly feed the polar bears so that they wouldn’t eat his dogs. However, on the day the polar bear ate the sled dog, the usual food that was given to the bears had been firmly forgotten.
“That was the only day we didn’t feed the bears, the only night we didn’t put anything out.”
After the husky was killed, a Manitoba Sustainable Development spokesperson explained that they had to remove the polar bear.
“Conservation officers had to immobilise 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.”
To illustrate why the practice of feeding wild animals like polar bears is so highly illegal, you have to understand that once bears have become accustomed to being handed much of their food, they may lose valuable hunting skills. And as they come to rely more and more on humans providing them with their sustenance, and then if that human food source should stop, they may also grow angry and attack other animals.
Arctic ecology expert Ian Sterling has said that what has happened is “basically a death sentence for the bears.”
In case you’re curious and want to know what Ladoon was doing feeding the polar bears that ended up killing his husky, Brian has long been involved in efforts with trying to save the Canadian Eskimo Dog and has insisted that illegally feeding the bears is the only way to keep his dogs alive and says he was tired of the “bloodbath.” Brian Ladoon claimed officials were ignoring him when he complained about ferocious polar bear attacks and finally resorted to feeding them to stop them preying on his dogs.
Other people around the sanctuary have complained about Ladoon and his treatment of animals, saying that he keeps his husky dogs chained up like the one we see in the video that the polar bear was petting.
“The dog was chained up and they’re totally vulnerable. Inuit hunters over the years in the high Arctic have told me that if you want a dog to act as a guard dog, you have to leave it off a chain. Because if it’s on a chain it knows it’s vulnerable and it won’t bark. Any situation that brings bears in to feed in an unnatural situation in association with human beings, I think, should not take place at all.”
So that viral video with the polar bear and sled dog? It may have ended in tragedy, but it’s still a pretty sweet thought to think of a polar bear petting a husky dog.
[Featured Image by Alexandra Beier/Getty Images]