There were flies in its fur — not many, just enough to remind me that even up here in this harsh environment, nature cleans up after itself. I got on my knees and looked closely at the bear. It was young. Not a cub, but not fully grown either. Even in June, cool temperatures meant that decay was slow to set in. Still, the bear’s fur was patchy in some spots, its eyes gone — likely taken by scavenging birds.
I moved around to get a better look at its enormous paws, claws still intact, and then came back to its head. Laying down on my stomach, I got face to face with the bear.
“It is not a happy thing, but it is part of the story,” said Ole Jørgen Liodden, our rifle-toting Norwegian guide, photographer, and polar bear researcher.
This was certainly part of the story, but what exactly was the story?
...and that is the uncomfortable reality of nature: that it is indescribable beauty and arbitrary destruction.