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Polar Bear Workshop

©Nikita Ovsyanikov_at Cape Blossom_2003By Nikita Ovsyanikov
Dr. of Biological Sciences, Polar bear expert

October 20, 2017

  • A full day seminar how to handle and manage polar bear encounters.
  • Includes theory and practical training.
  • Offered for the first time in Canada.
  • Signed Certificate of Attendance will be provided.
  • Held in Thompson the day after the conference.

Cost $250 per person.
2 Ways to Register:

Attendance is limited to 16 people.


Nikita in iceThis non-lethal polar bear safety technology has been initially developed by the author for ground based research on polar bear behavioral ecology on Wrangel Island, Russia. It is a system of behavioral rules combined with use of only non-lethal bear deterrents.

The system is a result of the long-term study on polar bear behavior in encounters with humans, and on polar bear social and hunting behavior. It is the only polar bear safety technology that is based on special long-term study of polar bear behavior in encounters with humans. The technology is a result of analysis of more than 2000 of the author’s personal encounters with polar bears on the ground, all of which were recorded, plus analysis of information (descriptions) on tens of encounters provided to the author by other people. Therefore, the system is based on understanding rules (drivers) that govern polar bear behavior in various situations, including encounters with humans in general and specifically conflict encounters, as well as on understanding factors that may provoke conflict encounters.

The technology is easy to learn, understand and follow. The technology has been successfully implemented on Wrangel island, where frequency of polar bear-human encounters is exceptionally high. It was also used in other areas of the Arctic (Franz Joseph Land, Svalbard, New Siberian Islands). On Wrangel Island it has been tested by the author during 25 years of field work in large variety of encounters with polar bears, including most extreme conflict encounters, with large number of polar bears around the observer, and in many cases – in close encounters, including encounters with aggressive bears and provoked situations, when polar bear was attacking with intention to kill the observer. In all cases it worked.

Nikita on FJLSince it has been proven that it works, it was developed in a format useful for teaching other people. Since the technology has been implemented, it was used by many different people (field researchers, rangers, visitors), who were taught. When the technology was strictly followed, the result was always positive – no bears were shot, no humans injured or lethally damaged, even when encounters occurred frequently. Critically important principle is that the rules for individual safety in polar bear land are to be executed as strictly as car driving rules on roads.

The technology includes two parts: individual safety and safe infrastructure. Individual safety includes theory (understanding factors that may cause conflict encounters, drivers and basic features of polar bear behavior), and practical training (how to execute each of the safety rules). Safe infrastructure includes theory (principles – what has to be taken into account) and on-the-spot planning (considering specifics of the place – landscape features, ecology, polar bear density and activity in the area, etc.).

Each of the rules of individual safety is not a general recommendation, but exact behavioral patter for humans to follow in different situations and on different distances from the bear.

Nikita on FJLThe technology is not an instrument to allow people to reduce distances from polar bears and be less cautious in polar bear country, but the instrument (1) to avoid encounters, (2) to avoid escalation of encounter into conflict, if encounter happens, and (3) to stop aggression in an extreme case, if such extreme encounter occurs.

If the rules are strictly executed from the first step and on, it is highly unlikely that you may get into the situation, when encounter turns into a short distance confrontation. However, if such confrontation happens, the rules work to cut the bear’s aggression off and drive the bear away without shooting the animal.

Implementation of the technology for group tourism to the Arctic on cruises or guided land trips includes special protocols that are different for guides and guests. If situation for polar bear encounter is arising or encounter happens, guides manage situation using the non-lethal safety technology, guests must be strictly obedient to trained guides and behave as they were instructed, following directions of the guide. Guides should be taught and trained to use the technology.


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