'I'm happy to be alive': Woman encounters polar bear after grocery shopping

A woman's impromptu grocery store trip turned into a winter horror story Tuesday afternoon in Resolute, Nunavut.

'The bear scared me so much that I screamed. And I scared the bear by my scream'

A polar bear near Resolute Bay, Nunavut in 2014. Another polar bear has been frequenting the community of Resolute since the beginning of October, says wildlife officer Tabitha Mullin. (Submitted by Randy Nungaq)

All Amanda Anaviapik wanted was some junk food.

But her impromptu grocery store run turned into a winter horror story Tuesday afternoon, when she came face-to-face with a polar bear in Resolute, Nunavut.

Despite the blistering blizzard-like conditions that started over the weekend, Anaviapik walked to the local co-op.

She was almost  home when she suddenly halted.

"I heard what sounded like two really big steps of somebody running behind me, and dogs growling," said Anaviapik.

She turned around, and just a few feet away was a polar bear.

"The bear scared me so much that I screamed. And I scared the bear by my scream," she said, adding that she remembered to stand her ground on previous advice from her spouse.

Anaviapik said the bear then turned around, and she made a dash for her home.

"When I made it inside my house, and closed the door behind me, I automatically collapsed because I got so scared," said Anaviapik.

She said she was too shaken to enjoy her snacks.

"I'm happy to be alive."

The bear moves on: Sophie's story

Sophie Idlout said she heard her dogs barking "like crazy" so took a look out her window.

There was the polar bear.

"I just freaked out. I said, 'Dad! Dad! There's a nanuq!"

Idlout took this photo of the polar bear Tuesday from behind her window. The bear made its way to the neighbour's home and ate the dog food, said Idlout. (Submitted by Sophie Idlout)

She said her father took a gun and Idlout had a flashlight as they went to the back door to check it out. 

"Me and my dad were panicking," said Idlout. "It was still pretty windy, just with no boots and no jacket. Our hands were freezing."

When Idlout flashed her light to find the bear, she said the bear went between her neighbour's truck and began eating the dog food set outside.

The community wildlife officer arrived shortly after, and along with some local residents, they chased the bear outside the community, where it was shot and killed.

Frequent visitor of town

"We had a hard time getting it out of town," said Tabitha Mullin, the wildlife officer.

The bear had been frequenting the town for a couple of months, Mullin said.

"It had been chased away from the community a number of times," Mullin said. "I had first seen it the first week of October, and it's sort of been a nuisance ever since then."

Mullin said the bear was a danger to the public, and had already received several calls from concerned residents this week.

The bear was very thin, young and about six feet in size, said Mullin.

There wasn't enough meat to share with the community, but Mullin said she was able to teach youth how to clean and flesh the polar bear.

" [I was] really happy to be able to teach the younger people how to cut up the bear properly," said Mullin.

About the Author

Priscilla Hwang

Priscilla Hwang brings you offbeat and exclusive stories from current affairs. She's worked as a reporter and with CBC's investigative unit. Reach her @prisksh.

With files from Michelle Pucci