/ NEWS: UKC/UKH Contributor Andy Ruck in Polar Bear Attack

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UKC News - on 05 Aug 2011
Ollsentopp on Svalbard, 2 kbUKC/UKH Contributor and user Andy Ruck has been named as a member of the British party involved in a polar bear attack on the Arctic island of Svalbard.

In reply to UKC News: Our best wishes to everyone involved from all at UKC/UKH.
fruteborce on 05 Aug 2011 -
In reply to UKC News:

Absolute tragedy of a story and my thoughts go to all those involved- particularly the family of the deceased.

I was a member of the same expedition last year with BSES and cannot help but feel sympathetic towards the group- yet I cannot even begin to imagine what must have been a horrific ordeal for them.

I wish every bit of strength to the entire leader team on the expedition- as well as those at the Society. Sadly, I just feel like this will raise a few questions over the feasibility of such expeditions- and whether the Society should actually continue doing what has been for decades.

frecro - on 05 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News:

Just heard that Andy's injuries are not life threatening. Thoughts go to everyone envolved.
Quarryboy - on 05 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News:

Sad story. My condolences to Horatio's family and best wishes to Andy and the others who where injured. It was also a shame that the Polar bear had to be killed.
Mots d'Invers on 05 Aug 2011 -
In reply to UKC News:

Sincere condolences to all involved. What a horrific turn of events during what should have been the trip of a lifetime. Sad indeed.
ben.richards - on 05 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News: Oh god, my stomach just dropped when I read this, Andy is a friend of mine. So glad to hear he is OK. My deepest condolences to the family of the poor young lad and everyone else involved in this tragedy.
top cat on 05 Aug 2011
In reply to Hix:

Nobody here gonna shoot you down; its a fair point. Perhaps the time has come for folk not to take their holidays in such environments.

Yes, very tragic for those involved, but tragic too in a wider sense, and we should not ignore the wider issue.

Juglan - on 06 Aug 2011
Hix - questionable also whether any expedition can be justified anymore. It annoys me when mountaineers come back from the Himalaya and harp on about the retreating glaciers as though they arrived there on a pedal boat.
ice.solo - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News:

jeezuz! terrifying news. the idea of confronting a polar bear is harrowing.

according the the WWF habitat destruction is far more destructive to the polar bear population than killing individuals in self defense.
ice.solo - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to ice.solo:

sorry that should be IUCN, not WWF.
spearing05 - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to Hix: What kind of exploration are you 'all for'? By it's very nature exploring takes us out of our cities and into wild areas where there is the risk of coming into conflict with wild animals.

Isn't it funny how we can get all excited about some things and not others? How many Africans die each year from crocodile/hippo/buffalo/snake etc? Yet one western teenager dies and its worldwide news with people debating the rights and wrongs of being in the polar bears territory. It is a tragedy when anyone dies whoever and wherever they are and it is also sad when an animal is killed to prevent further deaths but unfortunately this will happen wherever humans and animals interact.

It is easy to go on about not being in the territory of polar bears from the safety of an island where man kind has long wiped out all dangerous mammals. Would the people who hold this view feel quite the same if they were told about a bear release program in the woods near their home? How far do we take this? Should we all live in walled compounds so we don't run the risk of interaction? What about poisonous spiders - are we in their territory or they in ours? Should we ban cars given the amount of wildlife deaths they cause, or perhaps cats?

Whether we like it or not each and every one of us has an effect on the world around us, and while its rarely as extreme as this terribly sad incident, it is surely hypocritical to judge the motives of others just because their circumstances have made them world wide news.
beardy mike - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to ice.solo: I went on a BSES expedition to Svalbard in 96 - it was an awesome experience, and changed me forever. We never saw any bears, even from a distance and the thought of it still puts the willies up me. When all you have is a .22 rifle to stop a bear charging at you at 30miles an hour you don't have great odds. When people say we are intruding on their territory - well people have lived there for centuries, and it's not just about people holidaying. People who live there have been mauled to death as well, and it's sad that others just see this as an invasion of the wild. How can we as humans ever stop all our impact on our environment? From personal experience I'd say that BSES expeditions are pretty sustainable and are well run, with experienced leaders, and make as little impact as they possibly can... this is truely sad for those involved - always sad when someone so young is taken, especially on a trip such as this when they most likely were really developing their charachter and their spirit. Best wishes to all those involved and have a safe return.
Morgan Woods - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to mike kann:

speaks the voice of reason.

obviously something terrible has happened so would be good to keep the comments focused on this.
ice.solo - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to mike kann:

good lord, you had a .22???

that doesnt stop even a modestly sized asiatic black bear (dont ask).

i went to kamchatka a few years back and people there carried the good old kalashnikov (7.62), and even then that was considered hopeful.
beardy mike - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to ice.solo: Well quite. I remember the shooting session we had - we were told that the main thing was to take your time as you had to shoot hte bear square in the chest to stop it. It's running at you at 30mph with it's head bouncing up and down infront of it's chest. If you hit it in the head, it's skull is too thick for a .22 bullet to penetrate and will just piss the bear off even more, so you have to time it just right. Your best defence is yelling as much as you can and making it think you're nastier than you really are. We concluded that if we saw one we were dead meat and left the gun to rot at the bottom of a sledge...

I really cannot imagine how terrifying it must have been for these guys - you know you're stuffed, you just don't know who's stuffed and how quickly.
jamie84 - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to mike kann: As far as I'm aware BSES haven't used 0.22 rounds since at least 2006 (I've been on a couple of trips since then) and I'm surprised they ever did. The rifles previously used typically take 7.62mm (0.308) calibre and normal practice is to use soft tipped bullets.
beardy mike - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to jamie84: It may have been - long time ago. What ever, they seemed poxy when compared to the bears ammunition.
Ali - on 06 Aug 2011
In reply to fruteborce:
> I wish every bit of strength to the entire leader team on the expedition- as well as those at the Society. Sadly, I just feel like this will raise a few questions over the feasibility of such expeditions- and whether the Society should actually continue doing what has been for decades.

I initially thought that two, though it seems (quite rightly) that so far the British media haven't gone down the 'blame game' route. Having been on two BSES expeditions (though neither to Svalbard) I have no doubt this was as well organised (and risk assessed) as those I went on. They offer a unique experience and a life changing one and I wouldn't want that to change - this is terrible tragedy for all involved and I echo your remarks about wishing strength to the leader team, and all those on the expedition.
Dizz - on 07 Aug 2011
Spike Reid, also a leader on the trip, and also injured, is a friend and climbing partner of mine. The events that occurred are tragic, but it is a wild environment, with associated risks. Everything will have been done to minimise the risk. The purpose of the expedition was to gather scientific data around climate change. My thoughts are with everyone involved, and their families.
Juglan - on 07 Aug 2011
Why can't you use a tranquiliser?
ice.solo - on 07 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News:

they freeze and dont have a high enough rate of fire if the first shot misses.
also they are based on body weight so the dart for a 500kg bear would be huge and unwieldly in the air.

a good point tho.

Moondancer - on 07 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News:

I'm Andy's girlfriend. Just wanted to say I have been in touch with Andy's parents, and we all appreciate the messages and support we have received over the past couple of days. At the moment there is little news, and we are waiting for Andy (and of course Spike, Patrick and Scott) to return to the UK, which will hopefully happen today or tomorrow. Of course we are nervous and worried, but we're staying positive and count ourselves lucky that Andy is alive. The road to recovery will be a long one, but we're keeping our fingers crossed that he'll fully recover. So, thanks again to those who have expressed their sympathy and support.

iceaxejuggler - on 07 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News:

As a friend of Spike, really sorry to hear this and best wishes to all affected. I'd certainly echo the comments made by Dizz and Ali.
Moondancer - on 08 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News:

Although I don't want to be drawn into a big debate about human-nature interaction, I would like to say that I think (and I believe Andy's parents think the same) it would be a shame if this would mean the end to BSES and their expeditions.

Secondly, something that hasn't been talked about in the media, and what I think is very important to mention, is the enormous courage the other 8 kids in the group must have shown immediately after the attack. So far no one, except for those who were there knows what happened exactly. What we do know is that the 8 kids who were uninjured had to deal with a dead friend, a dead polar bear, 2 injured friends and both their leaders injured for nearly an hour until help arrived. At the moment I can only assume, but I guess they were the ones who contacted authorities, helped to apply first aid, all while being traumatised and probably very very scared. A lot has been said about the courage shown by those who got injured, but I think it is important to also recognise the courage shown by those who then had to take care of them.
bridget143 - on 08 Aug 2011
In reply to iceaxejuggler:
Also as a friend and one who shared a wonderful expedition to the Pamir mountains and other climbing trips with Spike, my thoughts are with all those involved and their families at this difficult time.
Babika - on 08 Aug 2011
In reply to Moondancer:
Well said.
anthrorob on 09 Aug 2011 - []
In reply to Moondancer:
Dear Moondancer,

I was Andy's postgrad supervisor during his Mres at Aberdeen and always enjoyed hearing from him after he graduated. Can you please let it be known that I and the other members of the Anthropology department are thinking about him and his family (you too, of course) at this time. We hope for a speedy recovery.

All the very best,
Toerag - on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News: I worked with these guys
..and they said their polar bear attack was terrifying even though they weren't injured.
beardy mike - on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: And what technology would that be then? A dart that gets the bear to stand on a set of scales and then adjusts the amount of dope injected to make sure the bear is only sedated?

Scomuir on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I think you are well out of order with that. If you are trolling, it's in poor taste.

The decision to shoot a bear is not taken lightly by anyone, and is an absolute last resort. Measures are taken to scare bears away prior to the last resort of shooting them, hence the perimeter wire that should have resulted in small explosions that would possibly have scared the bear away, but also alerted the camp inhabitants to the presence of it. Nothing is foolproof, and it may not have worked resulting in the situation.

Having someone "on guard" wouldn't necessarily have made a difference either. People often take huskies, or Greenland dogs with them, which double up as look outs when you are sleeping, as they tend to be more alert to the presence of a bear. However, it isn't a foolproof system either, as it has been known for dogs to be killed in camp by a bear, while other dogs still slept nearby.

People live and work just along the coast from where this took place, and they are hardly "yuppies" or "rich kids". There is risk living and travelling in these areas. If you found yourself in their situation, I take it you'd just accept your fate, and not expect people to do their best to save your life? It is quite likely that if the bear had not been shot, there would have been a number of fatalities. It's extremely sad all round. I wish the injured people a speedy recovery.
ice.solo - on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

plenty of money in pharmaceutical sedatives.

its also a fine line: too little will do nothing, too much will kill it.
iceaxejuggler - on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

About three bears a year are shot in Svalbard. About 20-30 are killed per year by being hit by motor vehicles in Yosemite, not got figures for how many bears are shot by park rangers, but it's higher than in Svalbard.
johncoxmysteriously - on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to mike kann:

>So you wouldn't go to the desert, cos you might need to kill a snake that was trying to bite you, or swat a malaria carrying mosquito in the jungle, or attempt to kill a hungry shark that happened to appear from nowhere whilst swimming in the sea, or shoot a waterbuffalo that was charging cos you happened to be near it's baby?

I can't see myself doing most of those things, certainly, although I grant you I've been a bit rough on midges in the past.

iceaxejuggler - on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Of course, some of those 3 bears per year shot in Svalbard will be shot by locals.
beardy mike - on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: Now you're just being agumentative - I bet you've been in danger of being attacked by a marauding Haggis in the past ;) Whatever, my point is that even if you are the sort of dull person who would never go anywhere interesting, there are others who will - and why not. Yes being in the arctic is a dangerous environment, but not as dangerous as africa for example where people are killed on a regular basis by hippo's buffalo, mauled by big cats, stung by Scorpions, bitten by snakes, charged by elephants, plus others ad nauseum. By and large the arctic is pretty safe - the ONLY threat are polar bears, drowning, crevasses and overdosing on boiled sweets. Bear sighting are extremely rare, as exemplified by BSES having been going there for decades without incident. I don't hear you saying all tourism to africa should stop. Or any other places. Just the arctic because there are polar bears.
danm on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

I think you've totally crossed the line here John. You're making judgements based on suposition regarding peoples possible motivations, when those people are hardly in a position to reply or defend themseleves. Please remind yourself that a young man is dead and several others badly injured, and that friends of theirs read this forum.
Simon Caldwell - on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> Since when has pub chat had any responsibilities to anyone?

Wrong forum. This isn't the pub, or 'off belay', it's a thread that is likely to be visited by those directly and indirectly affected by this incident. Not really the place to debate the relative importance of human and bear life, surely?
martinturner - on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
>I'm not debating that; I'm debating the relative importance of tourism for rich people and bear life.

And this is your problem.....the so called 'rich kids'.

You have severe jealousy issues! Just because you didn't get these opportunities, because they were doing something you would love to do!

I don't care wether you have a polar bear as your best friend, or they shot the one you adopted on '', you have been completely out of order on this thread. It is quite blatent that people's friends and family are reading this thread and they are in enough of an emotional state without you telling them that it was wrong to shoot the bear and they shouldn't have been there in the first place!

There is no blame in this tragedy....none at all! But don't you think the leaders of this group are blaming themselves enough at the moment, even though nobody blames them. And you sitting there behind your keyboard, saying that they made the wrong decision, that they should have had more measures in place even though their were more than adequate. But unfortunately, theirs failed! They have done nothin wrong, but you are hanging them before they have had chance to answer you back!

Your out of order sorry and I personally think you owe a huge apologies to the people involved and the friends and family reading this!
fruteborce on 09 Aug 2011 -
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to fruteborce)

>Polar bears have enough to put up with

They do have a lot to put up with...So, seeing as you hold particular affection toward them, what are you doing about it ? After all, I'm sure some of your actions will in effect contribute to the loss of polar bears

>without yuppies camping in their space to find themselves

Are you saying I'm a "yuppie"?

>and deeming it their right to shoot any bear that comes near. Even if they do so as incompetently as they obviously have in this case.

We all feel upset that it had to die okay. Incompetently? Well, your right should always try and shoot more "competently" in that situation- its not as if you've got the distraction that is saving your life!

You may not agree with the ethics/morality or whatever over these type of activities- that's fair enough. You also may not be the type of person who will choose to do these type of activities- which is also fair enough. However, please don't put across your views by being insulting, making false generalisations and inexact assumptions.

Dr.Strangeglove on 09 Aug 2011 -
In reply to ice.solo:

> also they are based on body weight so the dart for a 500kg bear would be huge and unwieldly in the air.
cobblers I'm afraid - the real problem would be speed of action - even crazy shit like carfentanil takes time to work
Dr.Strangeglove on 09 Aug 2011 -
In reply to Dr.Strangeglove:
And actually - the last thing I'd want to do would be to try to load a Tranq shot in a hurry - when I've been around those drugs we always have somebody with the antidote standing by in case of accidents, something that can drop a 2500kg rhino and fits in a 5ml syringe is just too dangerous for an 80kg human......
Scomuir on 09 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to Scomuir)
> >Your gripe seems to be that they were there because it was some form of tourism.
> Correct.

I don't understand why you have a problem with someone going there as a "tourist", but not as someone going there to work for a period of time, as every single other inhabitant of the islands have done (which is what you have suggested further up the thread). People who choose to live in that environment face the same issues as the group in question.

If you have a problem with people visiting areas where polar bears are likely to be found, then surely you will be calling for the withdrawl of all humans from areas where they are likely to come into contact with polar bears? This, of course, would be completely ridiculous, unworkable and unnecessary.

> >You are seriously deluded if you think anyone visits that environment with that attitude
> Really? And what do you think their attitude was?

Significantly less flippant that you are making it out to be.

Fat Bumbly2 - on 10 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: Could you get some information. There are no polar bears in Yosemite. Many of us happilly operate and millions live in black bear habitat. Polar bears are a different matter.

You seem to care so much for cuddly animals, but are happy to see other animals killed (ie the expedition).

Try killing a polar bear in Svalbard in a case other than last resort personal protection. You will feel the full force of the Law.
fruteborce on 10 Aug 2011 -
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to fruteborce)
> As it goes I am a member of various conservation organisations, though not specifically polar-bear related. But we're not talking about me.

"Though not specifically polar-bear related". Exactly. I just love how people can take the shooting of the polar bear and complain about its death. We're all collectively contributing to the loss of these creatures- a far greater problem!!

> I don't know. Are you?

Well if you don't know then why go ahead and make the comment in the first place?

> Good. Then presumably you'll agree with me that larks like wild camping in areas where there are significant numbers of hungry polar bears should now cease.

No I don't agree with you. A lot of good comes out of these expeditions. People DO actually return with a totally different view of themselves and their surroundings would you believe - all for the better if you think of it in terms of the bears. Maybe you would see this if you stop being such a cynic. It's not a case of some "yuppy" going out there to "find themselves"- what a stupid thing to say.

ice.solo - on 10 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News:

japan has a large black bear population (and brown bears in hokkaido).
every year several people get killed, some wandering in the hills, some farmers in their yards.

often the bear is trapped in the area soon after, its brains blown out, the flesh cooked.

been this way for generations.
Fat Bumbly2 - on 10 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: "Thrill seeking" tourists are work!

Scomuir on 10 Aug 2011
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

It doesn't matter whether you are a tourist or a worker, a bear won't chooose one human over an other if it comes across your camp and decides to attack.

The economy there is based upon scientific research, mining and tourism. A tiny proportion of tourists get to go into the remoter areas, and if you haven't worked it out already, I've been lucky enough to be one of them. The thought of a bear encounter caused a huge amount of considered thought prior to the trip, and we did everything we could to avoid a confrontation. That's why I know for certain that they would not have gone with such a flippant attitude as you were suggesting they had. I don't know how you could know either way anyway, given that you have never put yourself in that position...

In the end, we never even saw a bear. While part of me was disappointed, a significantly greater part of me is more relieved that we didn't have to face anything like what these people did.
IainMunro on 10 Aug 2011
In reply to UKC News:

To everyone who has managed to drag this thread into the UKC gutter. As a friend of Andy's some of the above comments make me feel a little sick, in particularly the views of johncoxmysteriously who I can only assume is a lonely, perverted little man.

I don't see why the school the deceased went to makes any difference to the story? The fact that a young boy who obviously had a passion for adventure, the outdoors and wild places (a passion that he surely shared with a lot of us?) has had his life extinguished by traumatic and brutal means. A death witnessed first hand by a group of young people who are now left to bear the physical and mental scars of this horrible accident.

If you want to discuss the impact of human activities vs the environment then start a new thread and post your dross there. This thread has been read by families and friends of the victims and ill-informed drivel by the likes of johncox will not help anyone get over these ugly events.


Simon Caldwell - on 10 Aug 2011
In reply to IainMunro:

Hopefully this thread will shortly be pruned of all the inappropriate noise...

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