Northern Ireland

Tyrone man's close encounter with deadly polar bears

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Media captionTyrone man's close encounter with deadly polar bears

The BBC's Arctic Live brought the tundra to our television screens, with an insight into the life and wildlife of the frozen North.

Eric McFarland is originally from Plumbridge, County Tyrone and has been at the heart of the production.

Mr McFarland usually gets to hide behind the camera, but one piece of footage featuring him was too good to go unseen.

Image caption Polar bears are the only animal that will actively hunt human beings

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland from the Canadian Arctic, Mr McFarland said: "We found ourselves with a flat battery, windows that weren't fully up and two bears circling us.

"So a little bit tense!" he laughed. "But we stayed calm and we used a bit of good old-fashioned Heath Robinson ingenuity - one electricity cable, four crocodile clips and we were on our way again, no problem."

No problem perhaps, but polar bears are the only animal that will actively hunt human beings.

"We've got a bear guard just over here who's got a gun and a dog who is always looking out for us, making sure that we're safe," he said.

"They've got a really amazing force here, the polar bear cops, the Manitoba Conservation people and they make sure that the town is safe.

Image caption Mr McFarland said the team were well-protected by dogs and polar bear 'cops'

"But it is extraordinary living somewhere where you can have encounters with such amazing animals.

Close encounters with man-hunting polar bears aside, working on the programme is a career highlight for the man from Plumbridge.

"It's a dream come true to come to this kind of environment, to see the Northern Lights which we saw last night, to see these bears," he said.

"And to be able to do it for work and to see these bears day after day is something I think I'll never forget. It's going to be very hard to top this!"

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