Airport Worker Captures Video of Polar Bears on Runway

December 19, 2017 Updated: December 19, 2017

An airport worker posted a video of polar bears he encountered scurrying across the runway.

Scott Babcock, an equipment operator foreman, was out doing an early morning runway inspection at Wily Post Will Rogers Memorial Airport in Utqiagvik, Alaska, according to CBS News. He saw two young polar bears on the runway. The video footage he posted to Facebook shows them running from the approaching lights of his vehicle, before they run over a bank of snow.

“They’re looking for food. They’re looking for whatever they can find, like any bear,” Babcock told CBS News. “If they can find some scrap lying around, it’s easier to pick a scrap up than it is to kill a seal.”

Babcock said there was a safety risk if the polar bears remained.

“Those bears could be 40 yards away from you and you wouldn’t know it,” said Babcock. If someone unknowingly met a polar bear out there with no open path of escape, Babcock said “things could get real ugly real fast.”

The airport is not allowed to directly engage with any bears they find, and have to contact county wildlife officials if bears linger, according to CBS.

In this case, the bear sightings didn’t result in interference with any flights. They were discovered and left before the day’s flights, while 30 mph wind speed kept flights grounded longer than usual anyway, according to CBS.

The bears showed up again that night, but Babcock thinks animal control chased them away.

Polar bears are the largest land carnivores. They can grow up to 8 feet tall and weigh up to 1,600 pounds They normally eat seals, but can also feed on larger animals like walruses and beluga whales. Their fur is not actually white, but transparent, and they have black skin underneath. They live in arctic regions of Canada, Russia, Greenland, and the United States.

The polar bear is not considered an endangered species. National Geographic gives them a “vulnerable” rating and estimates there are between 22,000 and 31,000 in the wild.