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August 11, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Polar Bears Pwn You

Say you’re doing some hardy adventuring (or everyday tramping) in Canada’s icy north; if you’re smart, you’ll be following the kind of bear-avoidance-survival advice you’ll find in any outdoor-guide to Canada’s northern provinces.

I was recently reading one such book, which included advice about what to do if, despite your superior adventure and advice-following skills, you haven’t managed to avoid bears and find one right up in yo face.

It recommended playing dead if attacked by a grizzly; fighting back if attacked by a black bear; jumping up and down and shouting, using rocks and logs as weapons. (If you accidentally confuse a black bear with a grizzly and play dead, the black bear probably will figure you as defenceless. Don’t confuse them.)

However, when it came to polar bear attack, the advice was that you would probably die, and the best you could do is to hope the bear might change its mind and decide he doesn’t want to kill you after all.

Now, polar bears very rarely attack humans. But this isn’t going to be much of a comfort to you when you’re curled in a ball on the arctic ice, watching it turn red with your blood, and praying that your cousin Gazza from the Hutt won’t be in charge of the music at your funeral. So while you’re lying there thinking of the power ballads that’ll be rockin’ your coffin, here’s how the polar bear will be killing you:

The sheer size and weight of polar bears means that overpowering the bear isn’t going to be an option: male polar bears can weigh up to 650kg; can reach 1.6m from paws to shoulder, and over 3m when standing. Oh, and polar bears can kill walruses more than twice their weight.

The bear will be keeping a hold of you with thick claws, while he shears off pieces of your flesh with his incisors, which he’ll probably swallow whole. If you’re lucky, your death might be quick; polar bears kill seals by crushing their skulls, maybe he’ll do you favour of a quick, skull-crushing death.

If for some reason you manage to get out of the bear’s grip and get up (you won’t), running away isn’t really going to be an option. Although polar bears aren’t great long-distance runners – they overheat quickly and many land mammals can out run them – polar bears are great short-distance sprinters. Although with that 1.6m reach, maybe he won’t even have to move to grab you again.

But, for arguments sake, say that against all odds – maybe due to your awesome survival skills, maybe because the polar bear got distracted by a tasty seal – you are horribly maimed, but survive the attack. After a long recovery from your stomachchurning injuries, your heart consumed with vengeance, you decide to kill your polar bear attacker. You set out with a really big gun, with the kind of bullets that just might have a chance of penetrating the bear’s thick skull. You succeed, and in an orgy of blood-lust, cut the bear open, and eat his liver.

But what you didn’t realise, is that polar bears store large quantities of vitamin A in their livers– much too much for your body to deal with. Your stomach starts to hurt; you fall into delirium and soon succumb to death. Even in death, the mighty polar bear pwns you.

Try to avoid them.

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