Dad mauled to death by polar bear while protecting kids

06 Juillet, 2018, 08:05 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Dad mauled to death by polar bear while protecting kids

A Nunavut man died this week while protecting his children from a rare polar bear attack.

Aaron Gibbons, 31, was at a popular fishing and hunting spot near the hamlet of Arviat, on the western shores of Hudson Bay, on Tuesday when the bear appeared, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

"He was enjoying his day with his children", his uncle Gordy Kidlapik, told The Canadian Press news agency.

"The bear started to stalk or charge one of his children", he said. "The bear surprised him and his children, so he put himself between them and the bear to let them escape", Kidlapik posted on Twitter.

The children made it to the boat and made a panicked call back home on the CB radio.

Police said Gibbons was pronounced dead at the scene.

Residents of Gibbon's hometown of Arviat have described their shock at his death in what was the first fatal polar bear attack to occur in the area for 18 years.

John Main, Nunavut MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, said the risks posed by polar bears have become a "fact of life" for Arviat.

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The last polar bear attack in Arviat was in 1999, when a 64-year-old Baker Lake woman was mauled to death while trying to stop the 250-pound bear from attacking her fellow campers, according to the Nunatsiaq News.

"We're in bear country and Inuit long ago up to today have co-existed with polar bears", said Anoee.

Arviat is considered to be in the range of the Western Hudson Bay polar bear population, estimated in 2016 to number about 840.

As a result, in 2010 the WWF helped launch a bear patrol program to monitor the community's perimeter and streets during the winter months. "It's partially because the climate is changing and partly because of attractants in the communities like the dumps".

Elders say polar bears have been frequenting the community more often and are less afraid of humans than in years past. The bear was killed by another adult in the area.

He speculated that the tours could be a factor in explaining the bears' shifting behaviour, noting that 10 or 15 years ago, they would flee at the sound of an all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile.

"Loud noises, or banger guns, or things like these plastic darts that are shot to discourage them away", he said. "They'll go on the trail beside you", he said.

And Stirling said the constant presence of humans could also lessen the effect of things done to scare them off.

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