Polar Bear Blog – Churchill Bear Incident

There was a serious bear incident this morning in Churchill and I have kind of noticed that the news reports have changed a bit through the day, so here is the Churchill version as best as we can figure it out.

There were two individuals walking home around 5am when a young male polar bear came after them. The bear caught one of them near Bill Ayotte’s house and, in turn, he came out and smacked the bear with a shovel, stopping the attack. Unfortunately, the bear then turned on him.

Neighbours in the area woke up and it was Churchill residents who pushed this polar bear away. First firing cracker shells to which the bear did not respond and then finally using a vehicle to scare the bear away. The local residents then transported the injured people to the hospital. It was a pretty fast and effective response. Both people involved have been medivaced to Winnipeg and appear to be stable.

Contrary to the revised Winnipeg Free Press article, it appears to have been RCMP officers that responded first and shot the male polar bear after it had been scared away. The initial calls to the Bear Hotline were not successful, likely due to Conservation’s already marathon evening. After the Halloween patrol, they hazed the mother and cub through town towards the Churchill River around 3:30am-4am. It was this female that was subsequently shot by Manitoba Conservation after the incident. There is some confusion in the community as to how the female and cub ended up involved, especially considering that it resulted in a fatality and another orphaned cub.

That is the story that I have heard from various sources and about the closest to fact that I can put together. This was a real Churchill community moment and a credit to Bill Ayotte and a couple young guys who kept their head on their shoulders through a very messed up situation.

As for other news that seems a bit less important now but, I guess it still is… Brian’s bears appear to be back – a couple old ones are out there and a younger one that might be ‘Buddy Boy’, so its really good to hear that that bear was not involved in this incident…! So, we will try and stop by there in the next day or two to see if Dancer is one of them. There were a lot of tracks today, bears must be moving for whatever reason…

Three ships are left in this Port season – about 110,000 tonnes – probably the difference between a good year and an average year. This last warm spell has probably come with some relief to the shipping company – freezeup seems to have paused a bit. The skies are clear but a big cloud bank hangs over the bay, for now, the warm spell continues.

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