Just look at the polar bear on the cover of my new novel (right sidebar) and image that bear coming towards you with no intention of stopping. That’s what a Newfoundland RCMP officer faced yesterday – and he did what he had to do.
This is the usual time for polar bear visits to northern Newfoundland but this one had a sad ending. The bear that came ashore at Deep Cove (where some of the action in my novel EATEN takes place, near the artist studio pictured in the photo shown above) on Fogo Island (map below) was killed by RCMP due to fears for public safety when it kept approaching officers even after warning shots were fired.
Maps and quotes from the 2 May CTV report below:
UPDATE 4 May 2016: more detailed (and accurate) information added below from a new CBC report – apparently, the bear was a large juvenile male, not an adult as originally reported, and was larger than initial reports indicated.
Here’s part of the CTV story on the incident:
“FOGO ISLAND, N.L. — Warning shots and a lot of shouting did nothing to scare off a polar bear as it lumbered toward RCMP officers and a small crowd of onlookers on Fogo Island, an RCMP officer said Monday.
“He was walking towards me on all fours,” said Cpl. Shaun Coady. “It was very close. If it decided to charge me, it was within easy striking range.
The fully grown bear was brought down with a .308-calibre rifle as it came out of the water at the fish plant in Deep Bay, Coady said.
About a quarter of the community’s 100 residents had come for a look as news of the bear spread. Police cleared the area before firing, and the incident was over in a few minutes, Coady said.
Melissa Waterman had called the Mounties after doing a double-take around 9:30 a.m. local time as she looked out the window of a home near the fish plant.
“I said, ‘There’s something floating in the water.’ It looked like a piece of wood to me at first. Then I said, ‘No. There’s a head on that!’
“He was just down there swimming around.”
Waterman said the bear seemed interested in seal pelts tied to the Deep Bay wharf.
The bears are part of the Davis Strait population, which is not considered endangered.
Coady says police on Fogo Island don’t have access to tranquilizer darts. Conservation officers might have been able to try that approach but are based in Gambo, N.L. — a ferry ride away, Coady said.
“It was not an option.”
The bear carcass measures about two metres or six feet from tail to snout and weighs around 180 kilograms or 400 pounds, Coady estimated. Police along with Fisheries and Oceans officers used a winch to get the bear into the back of a pickup truck and take it back to the Fogo Island RCMP detachment.” [my bold]
Find Deep Bay on the map of Fogo below (and updated details):
UPDATE: According to a new CBC report (4 May 2016), the animal was a large juvenile male, which makes total sense:
“Coady [the RCMP officer who shot the bear] estimated the bear was six feet six inches in length, and weighed 500 pounds, a fairly large juvenile.
“Things kind of progressed very rapidly, the bear exited the water, came up onto the shore, and started approaching the people in the area as well as the members on scene,” said Coady.
“Unfortunately given the threat to public safety there we had to shoot the bear.” [my bold]
Book sales for EATEN are going very well in Newfoundland and Labrador so far – and when real life gives residents a taste of the fictional terror found in my novel, interest is bound to increase. If you haven’t bought your copy, buy it here (or see my author website, www.susancrockford.com for other options).
Sea ice concentration map for 2 May 2016 below, from the Canadian Ice Service, showing that the bear would have had to swim a bit from the edge of the ice pack to reach Fogo Island (but keep in mind that these charts are generated from satellite data, where low concentration ice is interpreted as open-water but could very well contain ice flows large enough for a polar bear to rest on while swimming – more on this in a coming post).