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Polar bear kills Canadian man protecting his daughters in rare attack in northern territory

A young Inuit father has died while protecting his children from a rare polar bear attack in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory. 

Aaron Gibbons, a 31-year-old resident of the Inuit hamlet of Arviat on the southern tip of Nunavut, reportedly encountered the bear on Sentry Island, a popular hunting and fishing spot situated about 10 kilometres away from the hamlet, on the west coast of Hudson Bay.

“My qangiaq [nephew] died a hero today,” Gibbons’ uncle, Gordy Kidlapik, said. “The bear surprised him and his children, so he put himself between them and the bear to let them escape. The bear had no fear.” 

“To hear…his young daughter having to call on CB radio and crying to her grandmother, my aik, immediately after the mauling…we were very helpless. To hear my aik calling out to my qangiaq, asking if he’s okay…very heart breaking. His body was brought in at 11:15.”

Gibbons, who apparently was armed with a rifle that was out of reach at the time of the incident, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ecologists warn that polar bear attacks on humans are becoming increasingly common due to climate change driving bears onto the land. 

Polar bears are increasingly being driven onto the land as Arctic ice melts 

Credit:
AFP

Mr Kidlapik also hit out at tour companies who he said were lowering polar bears’ fears of humans by offering access to the animals. 

He warned that tourism was leaving Inuit residents of communities involved “to defend against approaching bears that lost their fear of humans. ”

However Canadian zoologist Susan Crockford, who studies polar bear activity, said that up close and personal exposure to the animals might not be the reason for the fatal attack.

“Nobody can draw any conclusions until we get more information about the age and condition of the bear,” said Ms Crockford, an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

“Very young bears between three and five years old are not only inexperienced hunters, but they also have to compete with older, bigger males who take the seals away from the younger bears and they lose out in the competition game.”

Nunavut’s Department of Environment said it was “working closely” with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and wildlife officers in their investigation. 

Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/05/polar-bear-kills-canadian-man-protecting-daughters-rare-attack/

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