Polar bear shot by wildlife officers near Catalina after being deemed public safety risk

Amid some public outrage, conservation officers say killing a polar bear on the Bonavista Peninsula this weekend was a last resort.

Department of Fisheries and Land Resources says officers followed policy and shooting was last option

Conservation officers stand near the body of a dead polar bear on Saturday. The animal was shot after officers determined it posed a public safety risk to the nearby community. (Submitted)

Amid some public outrage, Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Fisheries and Land Resources says its officers shot and killed a polar on the Bonavista Peninsula this weekend as a last resort.

The animal was being tracked near the shoreline of Catalina throughout the day Saturday, after first being spotted earlier in the morning.

This polar bear was shot by conservation officers after roaming near the shore of Catalina on the Bonavista Peninsula Saturday. (Evelyn Dumka/Facebook)

The department said officers immediately started following its polar bear control management policy, which outlines the steps for containing a polar bear in a community.

The policy puts a priority on capturing the polar bear alive if possible, and suggests killing the animal only if it is deemed a public safety risk.

Last course of action

According to the department, conservation officers had originally planned to use a helicopter and tranquillizers to capture the bear alive, but the helicopter was unable to fly all day due to foggy and windy weather conditions.

Conservation officers are seen carrying guns in Catalina, observing a polar bear that had wandered close to the shoreline. (Salena Collins)

As they continued to monitor the bear, the animal gradually moved closer to shore. Officers also set up a baited live trap, and used sirens and noise repellant to try to scare the bear back out on the sea ice.

The dead body of a polar bear is seen on the pack ice near the shore of Catalina on Saturday, after being shot by conservation officers. (Submitted)

After those techniques failed — and the bear continued to move towards nearby homes and people — officers determined the bear was a public safety risk and decided to go with the lethal option.

"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 wrote in a statement.

Reaction

CBC received several complaints from people upset that the bear was shot. There was also some debate on social media as to whether the decision to kill the animal was justified.

Burin bear

Meanwhile, the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources also had to deal with a report of polar bear sighting on the Burin Peninsula this weekend.

Officers were able to tranquillize the bear in the Parker's Cove area Sunday evening, before successfully capturing and relocating it, according to the department.

This polar bear, seen here near Brookside on the Burin Peninsula on Sunday, was later captured and relocated by conservation officers. (Jennifer Clarke)