Polar bears are not inherently vicious. They’re just big enough to see us as food. They’re twice as big as a Siberian tiger, and often starving and desperate.

Polar bears are quite simply the biggest carnivores on land, and because their icy habitat has little vegetation to offer them, they’re the most carnivorous of all bear species. They have huge bellies to fill and take advantage of food as it presents itself.

They’re also dangerous because they’re skilled apex predators: they can easily outrun a human, and knock its head off with a swing of its pawed fist. Which means, cute as it may be, the polar bear is quite functionally the great white shark of the north.

It is adapted well to do its job, of eating animals. Mainly, they eat seals that poke their heads out of water for air, but they’ll eat anything else they stumble across too, like birds, beluga friggen WHALES, walruses, musk oxen … a person. (There’s a recent video of a Russian throwing its dog at a polar bear to try and stop it from attacking a woman.)

Its translucent fur camouflages it, its nose can smell you for miles, its paws get grip on ice and snow better than your shoes can, and despite its brute force, it’s an agile predator on land and in sea alike. If you spot one, it knows you’re there, on account of its sense of smell alone.

The best approach is to back slowly away. Fast movement will likely provoke an attack, either because it feels threatened, or your cowering will trigger it to see you as prey. Not that they’re a leading threat to humanity or anything, they have killed less than 20 people in the last 20 years in Canada.

Still, you don’t stand a chance against something that weighs over 1,000 pounds, so yes, do take seriously the polar bear sightings and warnings we’re hearing more of lately on the island. Avoid unprotected encounters. Leave them to professional like this guy:

Why Are Polar Bears Getting More Aggressive?

In short, they’re not. We’re just seeing more of them, as their natural habitats melts away, and more encounters means more dangerous incidents.

It’s assumed climate change is to blame for the increase in our encounters with polar bears. It’s a recorded fact that it’s getting warmer in their arctic homes. They prefer to do all their hunting on artic ice pans at sea. But the icy pans and coastlines on which they dwell are melting, forcing them to roam around on land, which is forcing more polar bear versus human being encounters.

The feeling they’re a dangerous beast is mutual — they see you as a threat too. Plus, if they’ve been forced onto land, outside of their accustomed hunting grounds, they’re likely confused, panicked, starving and desperate, and with no seals in its belly, looking to eat. Meeting a polar bear on your turf, not its turf, is a bad encounter. Especially a protective momma bear with young cubs in tow.

All data indicates polar bears as a species are in jeopardy, be it from marine pollution or climate change, and more encounters with desperate “lost” polar bears will not be good. They’ve even been spotted at sea now;  they’re such strong swimmers that oil rigs and boats at sea, far from shore, have seen polar bears swimming around looking for a bite to eat, often drowning in exhaustion.