First came the cute video, followed by the gushing and mewing of the sweet-dreaming enviros.
Then, sadly, nasty ol' realists spoke up:
But reality soon intervened. Canada’s CBC News reported that officials had removed three polar bears from the same property in Churchill after one killed and ate another dog. The owner of the site, who raises the sled dogs, told the network that the slaughter had occurred on “the only day we didn’t feed the f—— bears, the only night we didn’t put anything out.”
The irony of the two incidents spawned commentary on the perils of the attributing human emotions to animals and imposing a moral code the creatures can’t possibly be expected to live up to. . .“To me, it’s like it’s trying to see if the food’s ready or not,” [wildlife biologist Tom] Smith said, laughing. “It’s not surprising that it would try to explore this dog . . . but I guarantee if you left that bear there long enough, it would say, ‘I wonder what this dog tastes like?’ I’d be sorely disappointed in a bear that didn’t ultimately eat that dog.”
Speaking of the false world of Walt Disney you do know, don't you, that lemmings don't really commit suicide by jumping off cliffs, and that Disney faked the whole thing?
Lemmings do not commit mass suicide. It's a myth, but it's remarkable how many people believe it. Ask a few.
"It's a complete urban legend," said state wildlife biologist Thomas McDonough. "I think it blew out of proportion based on a Disney documentary in the '50s, and that brought it to the mainstream."
... In 1958 Walt Disney produced "White Wilderness," part of the studio's "True Life Adventure" series. "White Wilderness" featured a segment on lemmings, detailing their strange compulsion to commit mass suicide.
According to a 1983 investigation by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation producer Brian Vallee, the lemming scenes were faked. The lemmings supposedly committing mass suicide by leaping into the ocean were actually thrown off a cliff by the Disney filmmakers. The epic "lemming migration" was staged using careful editing, tight camera angles and a few dozen lemmings running on snow covered lazy-Susan style turntable.
"White Wilderness" was filmed in Alberta, Canada, a landlocked province, and not on location in lemmings' natural habitat. There are about 20 lemming species found in the circumpolar north - but evidently not in that area of Alberta. So the Disney people bought lemmings from Inuit children a couple provinces away in Manitoba and staged the whole sequence.
In the lemming segment, the little rodents assemble for a mass migration, scamper across the tundra and ford a tiny stream as narrator Winston Hibbler explains that, "A kind of compulsion seizes each tiny rodent and, carried along by an unreasoning hysteria, each falls into step for a march that will take them to a strange destiny."
That destiny is to jump into the ocean. As they approach the "sea," (actually a river -more tight cropping) Hibbler continues, "They've become victims of an obsession -- a one-track thought: Move on! Move on!"
The "pack of lemmings" reaches the final precipice. "This is the last chance to turn back," Hibbler states. "Yet over they go, casting themselves out bodily into space."
Lemmings are seen flying into the water. The final shot shows the sea awash with dying lemmings.
... "Disney had to have gotten that idea from somewhere," said Thomas McDonough, the state wildlife biologist. Disney likely confused dispersal with migration, he added, and embellished a kernel of truth. Lemming populations fluctuate enormously based on predators, food, climate and other factors. Under ideal conditions, in a single year a population of voles can increase by a factor of ten. When they've exhausted the local food supply, they disperse, as do moose, beaver and many other animals.
Jarrell said when people learn that he works with lemmings, the mass suicide issue often comes up.
"It's a frequent question," he said "'Do they really kill themselves?' No. The answer is unequivocal, no they don't."