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Declining ice blamed for rise in polar bear sightings after father killed while protecting kids

Declining sea ice, no longer tourism, is more likely to blame for the tragic loss of life of an Inuit guy in Nunavut final week says a number one polar undergo professional.

Aaron Gibbons — referred to as Gumby — was once educating 4 youngsters, together with his son and daughter, how to pick out chicken eggs final week on Sentry Island about 10 kilometres from town of Arviat when he spotted a polar undergo stalking the youngsters.


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His sister Dorothy Gibbons informed International Information he started throwing rocks on the undergo to distract it whilst the youngsters jumped in his boat.   An skilled hunter who supplies meat for plenty of on the town, Gibbons had left his .22 rifle in his boat.

“When the undergo was once a long way sufficient from the youngsters he began working from the undergo,” Dorothy Gibbons mentioned through telephone from Arviat, “however the undergo stuck up with him and attacked him.  His children noticed the entire thing occur.”

Gibbons died as his children used a CB-radio to name for lend a hand. The undergo was once due to this fact put down.

His circle of relatives remembered him as a gradual guy.

“All his existence I by no means noticed him mad,” Gibbons mentioned. “He by no means misplaced his mood, was once by no means indignant.”

Aaron Gibbons was a hunter and fisherman from Nunavut who was killed by a polar bear while protecting his children. (Credit: Gibbons family)

Aaron Gibbons was once a hunter and fisherman from Nunavut who was once killed through a polar undergo whilst protective his youngsters. (Credit score: Gibbons circle of relatives)

Handout: Gibbons circle of relatives

Within the days after his loss of life many in the neighborhood blamed higher tourism for bears dropping their worry of people. Tours in close by Churchill Manitoba permit vacationers to stand up shut and private to bears even supposing through regulation they’re no longer allowed to feed them.

Bears, says Arviat elder Bobby Suluk, by no means was once an issue.

“We moved (to Arviat) virtually 60 years in the past,” Suluk mentioned. “At the moment the risk of the polar undergo was once by no means considered. Shall we even sleep at the land in a tent.

“However at the moment we will be able to’t sleep in a tent as a result of we’re at all times fearful of the polar bears entering our tent and attacking the people who find themselves sound asleep.”

Between 1870 and 2014 there have been 73 showed polar undergo assaults, with 20 fatalities. However final yr on my own there have been over 300 polar undergo sightings in Arviat.


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Suluk says they’re additionally pissed off that the neighborhood is best allowed to kill 8 polar bears every fall — a complete that they succeed in in 3 days.

“The federal government can best give us that selection of polar bears that the neighborhood can harvest legally,” says Suluk.  “As opposed to that, if a polar undergo involves the neighborhood, any person can kill it which might imply that it’s a defence kill, that means that it risks an individual’s existence or it risks an individual’s assets like a cottage or anything else.”

Polar undergo professional Ian Stirling of the College of Alberta says they’re no longer improper to mention bears are posing a larger drawback than ever ahead of. Stirling says you by no means used to peer bears this just about land as they hunted virtually completely on ice floes.

“The main clarification (for bears coming just about the town) is most likely the dearth of ice,” he says. “Now not the ice itself however what it way for bears. Past due spring and early summer time is their number one looking time.”

And if the bears don’t have the ice floes to seek from they have got to conform. Regardless of the rise in sightings Stirling says the polar undergo inhabitants has reduced 20% lately. And with world warming no longer appearing any indicators of slowing down apparently the undergo drawback will proceed.


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