The nearly 300 residents of the city of Kaktovik, located in Alaska’s northern shore, are no strangers to polar bears. While they know to keep their distance from the massive predators, they have spent such a long time living among the local wildlife that they accept polar bear sightings as part of their daily routine.

The Inuit people that live in the city often lead groups of tourists that have traveled from far and wide to see these majestic creatures in action. But one day while out in the water, one of these groups saw something totally unexpected…

The ecosystem of Kaktovik, Alaska, relies heavily on its local polar bear population.

Wild Alaska Travel / Laurent Dick

Tourists travel from all around the world to the small village to get a glimpse of these amazing creatures in the wild.

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Rolan Warrior, one of the Inuit guides that assists with these tours, saw something terrible while leading a group to one of the barrier islands.

A large polar bear was hanging onto life by a thread as he struggled to get out of the fishing net that he was caught in without drowning.

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More Kaktovik locals arrived at scene as fast as they could to tranquilize the polar bear.

The team of people that rescued the bear helped figure out a way to get the unconscious body from the icy water to the shore.

Keeping the animal’s head above water the entire time, in order to prevent him from drowning, proved to be difficult.

As soon as the group arrived on dry land, the net was taken off by biologists, who made sure that the bear wasn’t injured before releasing him back into the wild.

‘Polar Bears International’ Senior Director of Conservation Geoff York emphasized how in  both large-scale, international conservation efforts, and in specific rescue situations like this one, local communities are absolutely vital.

“They are on the ground 24/7 and have important experience and perspectives passed down from generations untold,” said York.

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“It’s great to see local people and scientists come together to solve a clear problem,” York continued.

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“In this time of unprecedented change, we need more collaboration across the Arctic and across groups.”

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It should also be noted that more and more ice in the arctic is melting away.

Future Timeline

Most scientists agree that this is due to global climate change.

PDTillman / WIkimedia Commons 

That means that more polar bears have to make an effort to survive.

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It also means that sights like this one are becoming more common.

West Mount Wire 2014
Hopefully, with more conservation and rescue efforts like the one in Kaktovik, the polar bears will survive.

Arturo de Frias Marques / Wikimedia Commons

People can truly accomplish incredible things when they work together…especially when it comes to saving a life. That’s good news for both humans and the animals in their communities.