Monday, November 22, 2010

There Once Was Polar Bear in my House

       Yes, that's right I had a real live polar bear in my house. Not only one polar bear but two at the same time. Me, being such a brave person, stayed in my house until they both left.

       Now I have to start at the beginning of this story to explain how this really happened. In the mid 60's I was a teacher, principal and administrator in a remote arctic community. The school had only been opened for five years. The inuit were still very independent and good hunters. The area was also a productive game area with lots of seals, fish, birds and caribou. These were wonderful proud people. They supported me and looked after my welfare.  For some reason I learned to depend on them and fully trust them as they were the masters in this land.

     One winter a few hunters were out on the sea ice hunting for seals. As happens on occasion they found a polar bear and killed it. Once they got to the bear they realized it had cubs. They searched and were able to find the den and the two young cubs. They were sharp enough to realize that they could probably get some money if they brought the cubs in. They immediately brought the cubs to my house and half expected I would give them money on the spot as I was the federal administrator. The little bears were active and not in a very good humor. They were probably very hungry and looking for their mother. We could hold them and pet them but you had to watch as they would nip you. We were not about to take a chance to become polar bear food. My house not only had the two polar bears but many of the people from the community as they all wanted to see the bears.

     The issue was quickly taken out of my hands as game was under provincial jurisdiction. So they went off to the provincial office and administrator. The Quebec Provincial Police were radioed and instructions were given to keep the little bears and they would fly in the next morning to pick them up.

     It was one of the more exciting evening during my two year stay. These hunters came in many hours after dark and were cold and excited. Usually the female bears with cubs were not out on the ice. I don't they they captured cubs very often so they were excited. I was excited as I knew this was a once in a lifetime experience. I have pictures of this event but they are on slides and I have not changed my 35 mm pictures to digital. Now maybe I will have to get serious about changing them as I have many slides of my Arctic adventures,

     I don't remember if the inuit got any cash for these little cubs. I know that one of them went to the Calgary zoo and lived a long life there and was a very popular animal. I do not know what happened to the other animal.