Foxe Basin polar bear attack victim recalls repeated attacks and being bitten on the neck

A few more details have emerged on the polar bear attack in Foxe Basin last week (Tuesday 10 August) in which three Inuit residents were mauled near the community of Sanirajak, Nunavut (formerly Hall Beach) and had to be airlifted to hospital.

One of the victims, Elijah Kaernerk, has finally recovered enough to explain what happened: he surprised the bear feeding on a carcass of something near his cabin and it came after him. The other two, both women, must have come to see what the noise was about and the bear went after them too. The bear was apparently shot by other members of the community after the attack but no mention was made of its condition, which leads me to believe it was probably not starving.

Quotes from the CBC story (17 August 2021) below.

Earlier that day, Kaernerk along with his partner and her sister-in-law were travelling by ATV to his cabin when another woman told them there was a polar bear near Kaernerk’s place.

Kaernerk had shrugged off the warning. But shortly after their arrival, he realized his mistake.

After its first attack on Kaernerk, the bear went after his partner, he recalled.

“As I watched the polar bear about to attack her, I struggled a little but tried to get up,” he said. “I stood up, then started heading to the bear.”

But it started coming back toward him.

It chased him around the ATV until it caught him, he said. 

“I can hear the attack on me. I can hear the cuts going in, and I can feel the teeth punching through,” he said.

“It started pulling my hair and it was painful. Then it let me go, then started approaching the others.”

The polar bear attacked Kaernerk three times in between attacking the other two.

When he saw one of the women being attacked, Kaernerk said he started blacking out, but did his best to get up and distract the bear.

“When I was being attacked, I didn’t feel so much pain,” he said. “I was trying to keep the bear from going to the other two. 

“They all have children, and grandchildren too,” he said.

When the bear came down on him again, he said he felt a tooth on his eye.

“It must’ve opened its mouth,” he said. “It bit me on my neck and I blacked out.”

Read the entire story here.

As I mentioned last week, lack of sea ice cannot have been a factor in this attack since ice was abundant at the time.

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