Bear territory

Published on 13.04.2008 - 2008 Ellesmere Island Expedition

Steger's team has passed through an area of Ellesmere Island that appears to be a popular gathering place for bears.

On 4th and 5th April Will Steger's small team passed through an area where the number one concern was to keep a careful eye out for bears. "Just after Sigrid finished her dispatch last night our campsite was again visited by polar bears. This time it was two bears. One huge mamma bear and her two year old cub. Unlike our curious visitor earlier in the evening these bears were not easy to scare off and they got very close to our dogs and tents - we measured the distance at about 6 metres. It took about 5 bear bangers and flares to scare the bears off and we were all pretty scared when they got as close as they did. Luckily for us the bears are well fed this time of year as they feed on the newly born seal pups and the adult seals that are nesting under the snow on top of the ice. Today when we continued our journey we saw over 20 different bear tracks and it became clear to us that we now are in an area that is a great habitat for the bears. At one place we saw the fresh evidence of a successful kill. We saw the remains of a seal den, polar bear tracks and lots of blood. Life is harsh here in the high arctic and a polar bear needs to eat too."

Three days later, the team once again encountered bear tracks in the snow. As the terrain around here is rather broken up, they had to keep their eyes peeled at every step just in case a bear should suddenly come lumbering out and catch them unawares and appear very close to them.

10th April : Toby writes that the first signs of physical tiredness are beginning to set in...

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