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Special Report filed by AAF Correspondent: J. David Varty
from the CBC, Canada

    Polar bear attack was avoidable: campers

WebPosted Sun Jul 29 00:11:27 2001

IQALUIT, NUNAVUT - Some tourists hurt in a polar bear attack in Nunavut think the injuries could have been avoided if wildlife officers had warned them the animal was in the area.

Early Friday, a polar bear clawed through two tents in the Katannilik Territorial Park Reserve, frightening the campers inside.

A woman and man inside screamed, prompting the bear to run to a second tent where two friends were sleeping.


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As the animal began attacking the second couple, the man in the first tent grabbed a small pocket knife and ran towards them.

"I had a knife, so I started to stab the bear under his lower jaw," recalled Eric Fortier on Saturday. The blade was only about eight centimetres.

"It seemed to have worked. He went away after that. When you see your friends getting hurt you have to do something."

Two people remain in hospital in Iqaluit, about 100 kilometres from the camp site. Alain Parenteau, 31, has injuries to his head, neck, and side. Patricia Doyon, 25, has more than half a dozen gashes to her back and leg.

"When the bear pushed me to the ground, I was just thinking that it's not possible, that it cannot end like this," Doyon told CBC Radio from her hospital bed.

Both are expected to be OK, according to doctors, although Parenteau narrowly missed having a jugular vein cut.

FROM: JULY 27, 2001 Tourists fight polar bear with pocket knife

The four tourists, all from Quebec, had been on a canoeing trip in the North.

Wildlife officials said it's unusual for a polar bear to be this far inland in July.

Fortier is relieved that everyone survived, but he wonders whether the traumatic event could have been avoided.

He was told that another group of tourists had warned wildlife officers about the polar bear on Thursday, and thinks everybody in the region should have been alerted.

"We were registered with the Katannalik Park. They knew we were out there," Fortier said. "Obviously we were at the wrong place at the wrong time. But I think it would have been possible to have some type of warning about bear sightings."

Authorities said they did patrol the area after the initial report of a polar bear, but didn't find the animal.

The park remained closed Saturday as wildlife officers continued to track the wounded bear.

Written by CBC News Online staff

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