Departmental Papers (HSS)

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Journal Article

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“Two research scientists kill five bears” was the headline splashed across the front page of the Tundra Times on April 8, 1966. The perpetrators were Vagn Flyger and Martin Schein, biologists from Maryland who had just spent three weeks on Alaska’s North Slope trying to tranquilize and tag polar bears. According to Flyger and Schein’s own later report, they had in fact accidentally killed only four bears (Flyger 1967: 53). Of the thirty-eight they had pursued by aircraft over the sea ice near Barrow, Alaska, they had managed to hit seven with darts laden with a powerful muscle relaxant, of which four died of overdoses and two were unaffected. The only specimen of Ursus maritimus they managed to successfully tranquilize, tag and release was killed soon after by an Inuit hunter who complained that the dye the scientists had used had spoiled the skin.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Originally published in Limn under a Creative Commons 3.0 Share Alike license (CC BY-SA 3.0). The full issue can be accessed at



Date Posted: 18 February 2019