Polar bear that was shot near Catalina
Photo by Facebook: Evelyn Dumka

Polar bear shot in Newfoundland as “last course of action”

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A polar bear was shot by wildlife officers last week in the Bonavista Peninsula in Newfoundland after attempts to scare it away from populated areas failed.

The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources tracked the polar bear over several hours on April 8th, as it began wandering near the community of Catalina. They followed the department’s policy for controlling bears, which involves a series  of steps, and aims to capture polar bears alive rather than kill them. “The safe live capture is always the preferred option,” Craig Renouf of the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources told the Norwester, though he added that when there is an immediate public safety risk, officers will take the action of “animal dispatch.”

The officers set a baited live trap for the bear and used sirens to attempt to scare it out of the area, but these measures didn’t prevent it from moving nearer to Catalina. They stated that they’d hoped to tranquillize the animal from a helicopter and move it, but the helicopter was unable to fly due to weather conditions.

“This decision is the very last course of action to take after all other options are exhausted and only taken when public safety is immediately at risk,” the department stated in a press release, also noting that even if they’d managed to tranquillize the bear, it likely would have drowned.

There was some public outcry surrounding the bear’s killing, and some observers were unhappy with the decision. Others saw it as a necessary decision for public safety.

Another polar bear was spotted in Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula a few days later, and was successfully tranquillized and moved.