Polar Bears Invade Cooper Island as the Summer Ice Pack Retreats (George Divoky)

Video Shot in: 2009

Dr. George Divoky recounts his experience with bears invading his campsite in 2002, where one bear backed him and his team out of their campsite and destroyed two of their tents. After realizing the potential danger of bears ripping up tents and being unable to see anything the windowless tents, in 2003 Dr. Divoky built an 8 by 12 cabin. But the cabin was broken into and trashed by bears in his absence. To avoid such incidents, he now takes great pains to board up the cabin as much as possible before leaving. Dr. Divoky visits the cabin every early April to check on it and board it up as necessary. He also uses this opportunity to reconnect with the Utqiaġvik community and check on the nest sites on the island. Since the ice has been pulling farther and farther offshore, polar bears have been visiting annually since 2002, looking for food. Dr. Divoky expresses mixed emotions about seeing the bears; his first concern is his own safety, but he also feels upset seeing the bears eating the chicks or eggs.