Far North police ‘dispatch’ polar bear stalking schoolyard

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Police and local hunters in an Ontario Far North First Nation community have “dispatched” a polar that was showing abnormal behaviour and treating the area as a hunting ground, police say.

In the afternoon of March 13, officers with the Nishnawbe Aksi Police Service (NAPS) received a call for service regarding a polar bear in the community of Peawanuck. Peawanuck or Weenusk First Nation is a remote community in northern Ontario – located about 30 kilometres south of Hudson Bay.

“When police arrived, they observed large bear paw prints in the area of the schoolyard,” police said in a new release.

While conducting a search, police received another call regarding the same bear being spotted in another area of the community.

Through their investigation, police concluded that the bear was heading back towards the schoolyard.

According to police, what they believe to be the bear’s den was located in a nearby wooded area within the community.

After consulting local wildlife experts, NAPS officials discovered the bear was exhibiting stalking behaviour.

“Police learned the bear was very likely treating people, specifically children, in the area as potential prey,” said police.

The situation was exacerbated by the fact a community scavenger hunt was set to take place soon – which would have sent children directly toward what was suspected to be the bear’s den.

With this information and further consultation with the First Nation’s Elders, it was determined that “dispatching” the animal was the only way to maintain public safety.

Officers, with the help of local hunters, successfully located and killed the bear a short time later.

Officers with the Nishnawbe Aksi Police Service along with local hunters in the Far North First Nation community of Peawanuck ‘dispatched’ a polar bear that was using the area as a hunting ground on March 13, 2024. (Supplied/Nishnawbe Aksi Police Service)

“The officers and local community members involved performed a traditional prayer ceremony,” said police.

Officials said the meat will be used to feed local community members and trained Elders will harvest the pelt and other items to be used for traditional crafts and in future ceremonies.

NAPS said it makes every effort to preserve wildlife through the course of its duties.

“An animal is only ever dispatched when it becomes a real and imminent threat to community safety and no other reasonable course of action exists,” said police.

Officers with the Nishnawbe Aksi Police Service along with local hunters in the Far North First Nation community of Peawanuck ‘dispatched’ a polar bear that was using the area as a hunting ground on March 13, 2024. (Supplied/Nishnawbe Aksi Police Service)

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