It is highly unlikely that we will meet polar bears during our time in the field. But, that is certainly a situation for which we ought to be well prepared! We’ve been preparing for our worst-case scenarios under the guidance of our Personnel Safety Officer, Suz, who has decades of global experience as a mountaineer and has served as a senior member of the U.S. Antarctic Program Search and Rescue team for ten seasons.
We are taking all the normal bear precautions:
- There is no food, deodorant, or other fragrant things allowed in the sleeping areas.
- The cook tent and food stores are kept outside of the sleeping area, and downwind.
- The sleeping quarters are surrounded by a trip-wire perimeter an electrified fence (see diagram).
- We have bear spray and flares to deter any that wander too close.
- We are bringing big guns!
Should the bear-spray, flares, banging of pots and pans, and foul language not work to deter a bear, it is up to the sharp-shooters. For the Install Team, this is Dani and Brad. For the Demob team, it is Dani and Veronica. The sharp-shooters have been in training as much as possible before deployment. Although admittedly, clay pigeons/skeet are a lot smaller, orange, and less threatening than a charging polar bear!