Rampaging polar bear shot in Churchill

Conservation officers in Churchill, Man., were forced to shoot and kill a polar bear after it wandered into town, became aggressive and started charging their truck.
The head of a man who got too close to a polar bear while taking pictures can be seen just behind a rock in the background. (Laura Gray-Ellis )

Conservation officers in Churchill, Man., were forced to shoot and kill a polar bear after it wandered into town, became aggressive and started charging their truck.

Early Monday morning, the bear turned on a man who was on the beach in town taking photographs. The man hid behind some rocks and the bear kept him trapped by pacing around the area.

Conservation officer Bob Windsor and his partner distracted the bear by firing off noisemakers known as bear bangers. The ruckus startled and confused the bear enough to give the man a chance to escape.

Laura Gray-Ellis, who was watching from her apartment window as the events unfolded, saw the man scramble over the rocks.

"He ran up the road into town, rounded the corner of the apartment building that I live in, and started jumping from backyard to backyard," she said.

Bear heads into town

The bear, meanwhile, tried to attack the conservation officers' truck. They fired some more bangers and the bear backed off but it headed into town instead of retreating down the beach.

It bounded through backyards and patios and broke a gate before going into the downtown, said Gray-Ellis.

Windsor and his partner were tracking the bear when they heard a "blood-curdling scream."

"My fear was that it had [grabbed] somebody and so we …went around the building and as we come up the side, here the bear was out in the middle of the street again," he said, adding the bear surprised someone but didn't hurt them.

"I drove up to it and it attacked the truck again. I wasn't able to back out of the way quick enough and this time it caught up to the front of the truck and reared up and kind of stomped the front of the hood with its front paws."

The bear dented the truck's hood, then moved away and started pushing its head against windows at the town's health centre.

Windsor, who said he's never seen a polar bear be so aggressive, managed to lure it into a clear area where his partner shot it.

He said the officers had no other choice. The bear will be tested to find out if it had rabies, which could explain its aggressive behavior.