North Pole Bear: Dixie Dansercoer responds – Updated

They watched for the first time the images [April 18] and admitted that this was evidence that the bear had been hurt.

NEXT: Evelyne Binsak’s statement

Update April 21, 2017, to reflect decision about the Bear Shooting Case. See below.

April 20, 2017: Reportedly a Last Degree North Pole team was “followed by a bear leaving footsteps of blood,” unaware of a wounded bear. Yesterday Barneo claimed that a Polar Bear was hit and it was not reported correctly to the organizers. Dixie Dansercoer, who was the guide in this incident near N89° 48′ 11 E133° 04′ 06, sent over and overview to Explorersweb/Pythom. Here goes:


On 10 April, Dixie received the following worrying news: Victor Serov informed us of 2 polar bears at Rune Gjeldnes’ camp; they had to ‘scare off’ the bears. It remains unclear what exactly happened, but it put us on high alert.


• On 11 April, we happened upon polar bear tracks that were clearly indicating that a polar bear was going back and forth around a small new lead that was partially open.

• Around noon, we crossed a compression zone and Pavel’s harness broke, so I stopped and helped repair it. In the meantime, the two women continued until Evelyne looked back and saw that we were at a halt. Marin continued a little bit further until Evelyne called her to a halt. Marin unhooked from her sled and walked back in the direction of Evelyne. Then, she saw the polar bear and ran off shouting “Dixie there is a polar bear!’ and joined up with Pavel and me. Evelyne stayed where she was, filming, apparently not aware of the precarious situation she was in without protection.

• Dixie immediately grabbed his rifle, while Pavel needed more time to find his handgun. Dixie and Marin retraced Marin’s steps when they arrived back where Evelyne was filming, Dixie say the polar bear for the first time. By that time, he had dragged Marin’s sled away and was eating from the lunch she had left on the sled, attempting to open more of the sled.

• A little later, Pavel arrived where we were and had his handgun ready. We knew that he had 10 bullets, alternating bullet with shrapnel amo. As the bear was likely to destroy the sled and its contents, Dixie suggested that Pavel shoot a warning shot, as they could not use the flare gun to fire off a warning signal, since it was in Marin’s sled.

• Pavel’s handgun did not go off the first, nor the second try (possible accumulation of moisture or ice between the hammer and the bullet), but the third time, a shot was fired in the direction of the bear without aiming directly at it.

• The shot did not alarm the bear, at the most confused it, but a little later, it left Marin’s sled and walked over to Evelyne’s sled that she had also left alone. Before reaching it, the bear diverted and took a new course towards us.

• All of this time, Evelyne and Marin were filming, which disturbed Dixie as they were at a distance unnecessary far from where Dixie and Pavel were standing. At this time, Dixie urged them to ‘stop filming’ and ‘come this way’ for better protection.

• At appr. 30 m distance, Pavel then asked Dixie if he could aim and shoot at the bear, whereby Dixie answered negative. The bear continued walking in the foursome’s direction. When the bear came even closer at appr. 25 m , Pavel asked again if he could shoot now. Dixie again answered ‘No’. Dixie explained to Pavel: ‘If the moment comes that you have to shoot, aim at the feet.” The bear continued walking in our direction and when he was between 15 and 20 m, Dixie gave the order to shoot and Pavel shot with the intent of hurting the bear in the foot. This was a matter of PURE SELF DEFENCE AND PROTECTION OF THE CLIENTS;

• The bear immediately ran away in the opposite direction in an erratic way, but was not hampered in its escape path. Dixie moved forward to get a better view of the fleeing bear in order to determine whether or not the bear was wounded. He could follow the bear for at least a kilometre and it was still running. At this time, we did not know whether or not the bear was wounded and also not where the bullet had hit the bear.

• Clearly shaken, we then went to see what possible damage there was to Marin’s sled, but nothing much was broken.

• We continued on our way and Dixie called that night Barneo Ice camp to report to Victor Serov at the designated time of 7:50. The content of this Iridium telephone conversation contained the position and state of the team and Dixie then clearly reported on the polar bear encounter. Victor Serov thanked Dixie with the following words “Thank you Dixie for this valuable information.”


We continued on 12 April and we eventually arrived at the North Pole in the late afternoon of 13 April.

We were picked up from the North Pole on 14 April and flew by helicopter to Barneo with very little time to transfer to the plane waiting to take off. Dixie first fulfilled his duties to empty all fuel canisters (no fuel allowed on the plane) and only just in time made it to the plane, where everyone had already settled, having to leave his sled behind as the plane’s back door had been closed.

Arriving in Longyearbyen means a lot of work with all of the expedition equipment needing to be dried, spread out, repaired, etc… taking up 100% of the guide’s attention.

In the meantime, Evelyne Binsack – obsessed with the polar bear encounter for her own good reasons – started her own investigation without telling anyone of the team about it and contacted the Longyearbyen Police to watch her videos to find someone who was to blame.

During the following days, Dixie had a constructive meeting with Annie Aggens of company Polar Explorers and Eric Philips, president of IPGA (International Polar Guides Association) to discuss in detail the happenings of the polar bear encounter. The threesome exchanged ideas of how to best protect from and deal with polar bear encounters with best practices in mind.

It was only when Dixie was back home in Belgium – the late evening of the 17th April – that Evelyne Binsack fully turned against him with unfounded accusations. She started by accusing him of lying and more strong language came out. She only then said that she had gone to the Longyearbyen Police and that she had started an investigation.

The next day, 18 April, Dixie and his wife transparently welcomed the additional information that was the result of Evelyne studying her video images that the bear got hit in the jaw. They watched for the first time the images and admitted that this was evidence that the bear had been hurt.

Julie immediately corrected the blog in which there was still confusion as to what had happened to the bear and transparently apologized for any confusion. Sensing that Evelyne Binsack was on a rampage and discovering exaggerations and false accounts on her Facebook page, we wisely decided to take the higher road and not engage in a battle that would undoubtedly ensue.

On 19 April, we learned of a very detrimental newspaper article in “Ice People”, in which Dixie was bashed by Irina Orlova, Barneo communications manager. The article contained non-correct information and Irina dared to blame Dixie for putting other skiers at danger and failing to report the incident.

She forgot that Dixie had accepted to guide one of their own clients, Evelyne Binsack and that any guide is forced to take adequate means of self-defence to make sure that everyone’s life is put at the forefront of expeditions like these. Dixie’s prime mandate is to guarantee his clients’ safety. Also, nobody may go out on the ice without proper gun protection, so anyone out there agrees to the danger of a polar bear and the possibility to having to defend him/herself.

Exweb/Pythom: Did you [Pavel] hit the polar bear? In the heat of the moment it could be difficult to notice, but did you see something on the video?

Dixie: As the bear ran away quickly clearly disturbed (but no blood was showing). I tried to follow him as long as I could and I could see it run for a long time. So at that moment I could not confirm that the bear was hit or hurt.

What type of gun did Pavel use? Do you always take two guns?

Dixie: It was a Browning 9 mm handgun that can be loaded with 10 bullets.

Did you contact Barneo about the bear? If yes, what did you tell them?

Dixie: Yes! I told them in great detail what happened. Exactly that and nothing more nothing less as assumptions will all too quickly be misinterpreted.

It didn’t look as if there were much open water around, right? Which means not much food for the bear.

Dixie: Correct, I was able to hold pretty much 130° east in a straight line, which rarely happens. Still, we saw many polar fox tracks, as of day 5 the polar bear tracks.

Would it be possible for us to see the video?

Dixie: As the video is the result of Evelyne Binnsack, I have no right to pass it on. I could fill pages about this lady but I must take the high road on this one. I can only believe Thomas Ulrich, who has witness her antics for more than 20 year, as he lives close to her and we had two coffees and two croissants in the Copenhagen airport with time to spare for our consequent flights and only now I can believe what he told me…. you can always contact him, it will be very entertaining!

Besides the weapons, what else did you have to scare off polar bears?

Dixie: The bear had taken the sled with the flare gun in it. Of course that would have been our first deterrent. Luckily, we had agreed that Pavel would help in situations like this and we chose for the most pragmatic way to deal.

What makes this case ‘complicated’?

Dixie: There are no fixed rules as each bear encounter is case sensitive. Each bear acts and reacts differently. Of the 14 bear encounters I had not one was the same. However, when a polar bear comes your way and enters the 30 m perimeter we must be ready to defend ourselves. Especially when I guide I will definitely revert to shooting the bear in the foot a little sooner than when I am on longer expeditions with an expedition partner.

Discussing this in the IPGA (International Polar Guides Association), what would you suggest?

Dixie: An in depth discussion where all members share their experiences with bear encounters and establish best practices. Also management of communications when it comes to clients being so fast to put their version on the web, talk to the press with their claim for fame and other criticisms.

Update April 21, 2017: Irina Orlova reported, Victor Boyarsky, a member of the International Polar Guides Association, has informed them that the Bear Shooting Case study is scheduled soon after completion of the Barneo season. “They will make a decision after consultations with all the people involved. Until that moment we won’t make any comments on the matter.” Barneo Ice Camp decided to speed up evacuation of the camp as the runway has started to crack. All Last Degree skiers are now finished and off the ice.

Dixies’ Polar Circles website and blog

NEXT: Evelyne Binsak’s statement


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