Nfld. & Labrador

Operation airlift: Polar bear edition

A polar bear was airlifted Wednesday from St. Brendan's to Burnside in Newfoundland to be set free in the wild of the northern peninsula.

Bear to be released on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula

A polar bear was airlifted Wednesday evening from St. Brendan's to Burnside on Newfoundland's east coast. (Jim Rockwood)

Wednesday wasn't a typical day for Charlene Ralph.

At around 5:15 p.m., a polar bear flew over her house.

"I got all excited," Ralph said when she heard about the airlift.

"I got the best view in Burnside."

Wildlife officers were informed when the bear was spotted near St. Brendan's in Bonavista Bay, Ralph said.

The chopper was travelling between St. Brendan's and Burnside, about 20 kms away, near Terra Nova National Park.

"It flew over my house. It was amazing," Ralph said.

Polar bear sightings are not generally common in the area — this was the first time Ralph had seen one in person — but this winter has seen some unusual bear activity.

At the end of March, a Wesleyville photographer captured an image of a polar bear that appeared to be praying at a cross. There's also been numerous sightings of polar bears along the east coast of Newfoundland and the south coast of Labrador.

Ralph said she wasn't worried about the bear's safety because it looked pretty secure in the air.

One thing more surprising than the trip itself is the fact that more people weren't present to watch the helicopter ride.

Witness Phil Pomeroy estimated about half a dozen people looked on, while Ralph was surprised more people didn't show up for the spectacle.

She suspects that's because they were more interested in nearby Eastport's Chase the Ace contest, which was set to wrap up Wednesday night.