Polar bear onshore in Tuktoyaktuk got so close to kids they heard it breathing

A report from the CBC this morning (with video) of a large polar bear wandering about the village of Tuktoyaktuk on the (Canadian) shore of the Eastern Beaufort Sea on Thursday (29 September) that got very close to a group of children playing outside. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

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That this was a rare event is evident in the awe and excitement in the voices of the residents as someone recorded the movements of the bear through town (picture quality is not the best, but clear enough).

As I’ve said before, with more bears we can expect more interactions with people and more sightings like this that haven’t happened in decades. Map and quotes below.

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“Tina Kikoak says five children were playing outside when one of them noticed the bear about 10 metres away.

“You could hear it breathing,” Kikoak said.

At first, the other kids didn’t believe their cousin when she said a polar bear was nearby. And then they started running — and so did the “ever big” polar bear.

“That polar bear started running towards them,” said Kikoak. “And one of my twins, she was maybe about six feet away from the stairs [of the house], but she was so in shock to see that polar bear, she was just standing there looking at it. And it didn’t move. It kept on staring at her.”

Kikoak said the children were still traumatized the next morning.

“I kept on talking to them,” she said. “I said, ‘No matter what, it used to be [polar bears only showed up in] wintertime, but now it could be summertime. They could come out anywhere.

Watch the video and read the rest of the CBC report here. No mention is made of sea ice (or lack thereof) in this report.

Tuk is at the epicentre of the region that is regularly affected by thick spring ice conditions in spring – which apparently last occurred in 2004-2006.

The Beaufort Sea ice is fast approaching (see below), so polar bears that have spent the summer on land with soon be able to hunt seals again. Recall that recent research has shown polar bears have not shown negative effects of a longer period onshore in summer.

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