A video of a polar bear petting a sled dog that went viral seemed heartwarming, but a new development casts the interaction in a different light. The Dodo has updated its initial post on the incident, which took place near Churchill in Manitoba. The video was shot on property belonging to Brian Ladoon, who keeps sled dogs at his Mile 5 Dog Sanctuary—and last week, a bear on the property killed one of Ladoon's dogs, a Manitoba Sustainable Development rep tells the CBC. That bear, as well as another bear and her cub, were removed by officials from the property by conservation workers, partly because they caught wind Ladoon had been feeding the bears. It's not something he denies: The day the dog was killed "was the only day we didn't feed the f---ing bears, the only night we didn't put anything out," he tells the CBC.
Per Manitoba's Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act, humans aren't allowed to "kill, injure, possess, disturb, or interfere with a member" of an endangered or threatened species, meaning if Ladoon—who says he takes paying visitors out to see the bears—keeps feeding or otherwise "baiting" them, he could face "further enforcement action," a Sustainable Development rep tells the CBC. A University of Alberta professor notes Ladoon's actions aren't just dangerous for the dogs, who are "totally vulnerable" when they're chained up, but also for the bears: They could learn to link humans and dogs with food and poke around in communities, where they may get killed by locals. "It's basically a death sentence for the bears," he says, calling dog-bear interaction "unnatural." Ladoon disagrees: "No. It's a phenomenon." (The world's "saddest polar bear" just got temporary new digs.)