P.E.I. RCMP officer charged by polar bear on Fogo Island, N.L.

An RCMP officer from P.E.I. came face-to-face with a polar bear while on duty on Fogo Island, Nfld., earlier this week.

Officers had to shoot 500 lb. bear as it came towards 30 people

Polar bears are seen on Fogo Island from time-to-time, but very rarely do they come on shore. (Submitted by Colleen Gray)

An RCMP officer from P.E.I. came face-to-face with a polar bear while on duty on Fogo Island, Nfld., earlier this week.

Police shot and killed the animal as it was advancing on some residents in the community of Deep Bay.

It wasn't deterred by our noise at all.- Cpl. Shaun Coady

Cpl. Shaun Coady grew up in Cornwall, joined the RCMP after graduating from UPEI, and is now on his fourth posting, moving to Fogo Island almost two years ago.

He got a call Monday morning about a sighting of a polar bar swimming in the harbour.

"Polar bears are a very serious threat to the people around here," Coady told Matt Rainnie of Island Morning. "It's not uncommon for them to frequent the Island, normally once or twice a year we have them around.

"When they come into a community such as Deep Bay, a small fishing community, we try to go down and monitor the situation, and normally try to scare the bear back out into the water."

RCMP Cpl. Shaun Coady recently presented Victoria County councillors with a comparison of crime statistics showing significant changes in reported crimes over the last two years. (Submitted by Shaun Coady)

Warning shot fired

Coady and another RCMP officer, as well as two DFO officers, went to the scene.

When they arrived the bear was very close to the community wharf, where there were around 30 people working and watching.

"I tried to scare the bear back into the water by firing a shot into the air, and yelling at the animal, but unfortunately we couldn't startle it back, it wasn't deterred by our noise at all."

Coady estimated the bear was six feet six inches in length, and weighed 500 pounds, a fairly large juvenile.

"Things kind of progressed very rapidly, the bear exited the water, came up onto the shore, and started approaching the people in the area as well as the members on scene," said Coady. "Unfortunately given the threat to public safety there we had to shoot the bear."

Cpl. Shaun Coady describes Fogo Island as a beautiful and friendly spot. (Submitted by Shirley Combden )

'Hopefully a last'

Coady said wildlife officers — who would have access to tranquilizer guns — were notified, but there wasn't enough time for them to arrive.

He said it was the first time he had seen a polar bear come into a community.

Coady believes the bear was attracted by some seal pelts that were on the community wharf.

"You never want to have to shoot an animal, let alone a polar bear, but unfortunately, given the circumstances and how it evolved so quickly, we had no other choice," he said.

"Definitely a first, and hopefully a last," said Coady.

From interview by Matt Rainnie