Polar bears
Photo by Maggie Putulik

Nunavut woman captures incredible images of polar bears invading campsite

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What could have a scary experience ended up being a great photo-op for one Nunavut family.

Photographer Maggie Putulik and her partner Brian woke up to a pair of polar bears rummaging around their cabin during a camping trip near Nunavut’s Chesterfield Inlet last month. It was the second time this summer that bears had been spotted at their cabin.

Putulik’s dog started barking early in the morning, but when the couple went to investigate around the camp for activity, they saw nothing and returned to bed. An hour later, Putulik heard a noise. “I’m thinking, ‘This time, I am going to see a polar bear.’ But when I looked out, I saw not just one but two: the mother and a teenage cub,” she told the CBC.

At that point, Putulik grabbed her camera and started taking photos. Shortly after, the mother bear began to move towards the cabin as the adolescent cub tried to get the drying meat on the racks outside. Worried about her family—her adult children and grandchildren were also in the cabin—Putulik closed her blinds and stopped snapping.

Photo by Maggie Putulik

Eventually the mother bear heard one of the cubs crying and moved away from the cabin. That’s when Putulik’s partner, Brian, grabbed his shotgun and scared away the bears by shooting into the air. The animals ran away and did not return.

Polar bear visits in Nunavut communities are not uncommon, with some organizing regular patrols to check for wild animals before allowing children to walk to school. The Nunavut government even pays compensation if animals damage bear-proofed cabins.