Polar Bears Destroying Hidden Cameras

Watch the video.

What valuable security lessons does this teach?

EDITED TO ADD (1/3): And why aren’t the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras that are filming the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras?

EDITED TO ADD (1/13): Sadly, the BBC has taken the video down on copyright grounds.

Posted on January 3, 2011 at 9:07 AM54 Comments


Jeroen January 3, 2011 9:34 AM

Most likely, the camera’s filming the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras are not hidden. They are human operated and located some distance away.

I suppose the lesson here is that polar bears don’t like having their picture taken..

Suzanne January 3, 2011 9:42 AM

Those aren’t hidden cameras. They’re cameras disguised as toys! What else would you expect 🙂

DayOwl January 3, 2011 9:48 AM

Now that’s just funny!

I think the lesson is that polar bears aren’t fooled by fake snow.

Hugo January 3, 2011 9:50 AM

The hidden camera’s say: “I’m hidden and therefor interesting. Investigate me”. The polarbears are not deliberately destroying them. They just happen to have a rough way of investigating things.

The other camera’s are not hidden and therefor not interesting. They’re only saying: “I’m just a camera. Nothing to see, move along”. So the polarbears do.

The end.

Imperfect Citizen January 3, 2011 10:09 AM

Great Bruce! I wonder about these lessons as I watch this…

Targets of surveillance learn about the observation at the ground level through experimentation. Also, polar bears know what doesn’t belong what doesn’t really blend in. Sorta like sending men into a convent. Doesn’t blend in then wow there’s that convent guy in two other cities over time. TEDD.

How one gathers information (cameras/observers talking loudly on cellphones/perimeters/audio feed to NIMS) gives information about you/your processes.

joker January 3, 2011 10:10 AM

“What looks like an inconspicuous iceblock to a (admittedly very casual) human observer may stick out like a neon-coloured roadsign to an icebear”?

rc January 3, 2011 10:19 AM

polar bears can smell another polar bear at a hundred miles, what do you think a camera in a styrofoam box smells like when it goes by with the purr of an electric motor, probably not like the other ice.
it just shows the ubiquity of these cameras, there is no privacy anywhere.

jacob1898 January 3, 2011 10:24 AM

I would say don’t disguise cameras as something that would interest the subject or look like toys.
1. camera in block of weed in Willie’s trailer.
2. Camera in bmw parked all alone in certain parts of big cities. (chicago, nyc)
3. congressional pages. (interns)

Or in my case a macbook air. 😉

Doug Coulter January 3, 2011 10:34 AM

Indeed to a being tuned to survive in an environment such as that, almost anything human made would really stand out.

Thanks Bruce, my wife and I had a good laugh to begin the year with! Those guys sure are cute, at a safe distance…

mcb January 3, 2011 10:35 AM

Doing surveillance of animals that will root out, disassemble, kill, and if tasty – perhaps eat, anything unusual in its environment calls for a different kind of planning. The overt surveillance team watching the “hidden” cameras probably had bear defense guns at their disposal, so perhaps one practical arctic security lesson may be “if your surveillees are known to kill and eat surveilleurs bring shotguns loaded with slugs.” The other is more philosophical, or at least Nietzschean, “If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

aikimark January 3, 2011 10:35 AM


Why not have a contest where we vote for the worst places to hide cameras? (based on jacob1898 comment)

BF Skinner January 3, 2011 10:42 AM

@Bruce ‘What valuable security lessons does this teach?’

That these polar bears are really Law Enforcement officials going about their lawful duty guarding critical infrastructure in either Illinois or a two party consent state.

John January 3, 2011 10:55 AM

@Bruce ‘What valuable security lessons does this teach?’

Don’t mess with polar bears. They will crush you.

jacob January 3, 2011 11:16 AM

@wiredog, we can just be subtle/obtuse, or find/pick easier fruit.
1. A pack of cigs around obama.
2. Anything within rifle range that Sarah Palin might want to shoot, field strip, and eat.
3. Anything that Putin might want to use to show/feel more manly.
4. Anything that the chinese might want to copy.
5. Anything marked “antivirus” around the Iranians.

Richard Steven Hack January 3, 2011 11:29 AM

Bears don’t like paparazzi either?

The security lesson: Security cameras – like most security devices – don’t work to actually provide security – especially when they’re being crushed by 800-pound bears.

Trichinosis USA January 3, 2011 11:31 AM

People should not assemble cameras meant to spy on polar bears while drinking Coca Cola.

frog January 3, 2011 1:51 PM

Your edit simply made me laugh and made me realize that I had never even thought about it while I watching the video.

That’s why I like reading and hearing things you say. You make me realize I am missing so many things in plain sight.

db Cooper January 3, 2011 2:55 PM

“What valuable security lessons does this teach? ”

No matter if you’re the hunter or the hunted, for best results know your quarry.

Steve January 3, 2011 2:57 PM

That if I want to drop a camera where there are bears, I want to drop a dummy with no $3500 camera first so as to give the bears a chance to acclimatize to it.

Just like we have become inured to the challenges of the environment of air travel by exposure , first, to losing the belts then, our coats then, our shoes and now, finally, our clothing and dignity.

David Harmon January 3, 2011 3:06 PM

1) Make sure your camo is current for the environment — a lump of snow becomes very conspicuous on bare rock.

2) Running away is not a good strategy against a predator.

3) the Harvard Rule: Under the most carefully controlled environment and conditions, your experimental animals will do what they damn well please. 😉

I’m wondering about the smell and sound of the cameras too. (Could they have been emitting ultrasonic whines? How high a pitch can polar bears hear?)

Davi Ottenheimer January 3, 2011 3:36 PM

“And why aren’t the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras that are filming the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras?”

The same reason the bears are not destroying the hidden people operating the hidden cameras that are filming the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras…distance.

Aviatrix January 3, 2011 3:37 PM

In the polar bear’s environment, anything that moves under its own power or that makes a noise contains edible parts. A helicopter, for example, is quite crunchy on the outside, but generally contains delicious, fresh humans on the inside.

polar bear January 3, 2011 4:22 PM

What valuable security lessons does this teach?

That the ones being watched behave unnaturally whern they know the’re being watched.

Neighborcat January 3, 2011 4:25 PM

The cameras filming the clip weren’t destroyed for the same reason people cluster around TV news crews, but resent security cameras. It’s all about the audience.

polar bear January 3, 2011 4:51 PM

And why aren’t the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras that are filming the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras?

Most of security/surveillance measures today are beyond our control.

Dirk Praet January 3, 2011 4:57 PM

‘What valuable security lessons does this teach?’

1) That no matter how sophisticated and expensive your technical gizmos are, they are merely an add-on to, and not a replacement for hands-on field work by humans. Like the hidden cameras in this particular case probably being hand-held tele lenses operated from a safe distance, as pointed out by Davi.

2) Any technical control is bound to have one or more critical design flaws that can and will be exploited to defeat it. It is highly unlikely the bears give a toss about being observed by cameras. But since for cultural reasons the level of fitting into the environment to the bears is different than to the observors, the cameras will draw the bears attention either as a toy or a possible prey. Bears by nature are highly inquisitive, opportunistic and very determined in their quest for food.

3) If we were a polar bear club, it would be fun and games to tamper with surveillance and monitoring controls. The bears fortunately are less likely to be subpoenaed, put in jail or put on no-fly lists for doing so. Then again, Canada does have polar bear jail programs for incorrigible hoodlums.

Ian Woollard January 3, 2011 7:14 PM

Blizzard cam got away by deploying snowball cam though.

Clearly, having an obvious, flashy diversion can give a good chance for the thing you really want to get away.

uk visa January 3, 2011 8:49 PM

From a film makers perspective the fact that the cameras were not too hidden made for some great shots; shots that wouldn’t have happened if the cameras were undetectable to the bears.
From a security perspective I guess you have to conclude you get different results from truly hidden cameras than you do from standard (visible) security cameras.

I love the Lift and grab…too complex?

Polar Bear January 3, 2011 11:08 PM

The polar bear know very well the environment around. The polar bear is just inspecting something that is looks familiar but that is not (suspicious).

If the polarbear were a human being (from US), the ice would be full of useless body scanners.

bearing January 3, 2011 11:18 PM

The lesson is that human would go out of their way to destroy surveillance cameras, but as they are going to be recorded on other hidden cameras they make a risk assessment that it is toooo risky. Though it once was practiced to prosecute animals in court…for illegal and immoral acts

Greg January 4, 2011 1:49 AM

“And why aren’t the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras that are filming the polar bears destroying the hidden cameras?”

Maybe they are and you’re just seeing the first one. I don’t think the bears are socially organized enough to launch a concerted attack on all the cameras at once.

csrster January 4, 2011 4:00 AM

The lesson, presumably, is that none of this would happen if you just tasered any suspicious-looking polar bear on sight.

mk11 January 4, 2011 4:45 AM

A: An unpaid and untrained polar bear is an order of magnitude smarter than a paid and trained TSA agent?

Bas January 4, 2011 7:58 AM

I saw this kind of animal behaviour before. There were a couple of crows attacking CCTV’s in England. Apparently we humans aren’t the only ones who don’t like being watched…

db Cooper January 4, 2011 9:28 AM

Seems video no longer available on YouTube, receiving this message:

“This video contains content from BBC Worldwide, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

rc January 4, 2011 10:36 AM

I bought the heaviest green tint of sunglasses, and now when I look at things that are black or grey, they often look pink tinged, its a matter of what light is still reflected that gets through the tint. there is no reason to believe that these things look like snow to the polar bears, they could look very different to eyes adaped to the blinding snow environment.
the smells and sounds are also things we humans have no concept of. the polar bears have a generally quiet environment and may have hearing sensitive to things humans cannot imagine. what might fool you visually or otherwise should not be assumed to fool a creature of fantastic adaptation

Oscar January 6, 2011 5:53 AM

I just can’t stop laughing. There is no lesson to learn here. Polar Bears lacks the mental capacity for abstract thinking and can therefore not understand the concept of being observed via equipment.

They simply play with the strange objects (hidden cameras) because they are curious.

Nice way to make a point, though. gotta give you credit for that.

Kaiser S. January 11, 2011 1:27 AM

It was a message. Leave us alone. How would you know this if we didn’t leave a survivor, or two?

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