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On January 30, a polar bear entered the northern village of Kuujjuaq, in Nunavik, for the first time, causing excitement and fear among the few residents who encountered the animal, such as Richard and Willie Gordon.

< img alt="Portrait of the two men outside their home. " class="PictureImage-sc-f0aa5057-2 kmYcCL transition-opacity ease-out" style="opacity:1" loading="lazy" src="https://images.radio-canada.ca/q_auto,w_700/v1/ici-info/16x9/ours-polaire-kuujjuaq-nunavik-gordon.jpg">Open in full screen mode< p class="StyledImageCaptionLegend-sc-57496c44-2 sbxsP">Richard and his father Willie Gordon encountered the polar bear, who tried to enter their home.

  • Félix Lebel (View profile)

    Polar bear: Kuujjuaq on the verge of disaster

    Félix Lebel

Speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from written text.

It's a completely ordinary late January afternoon for Richard Gordon, from Kuujjuaq. The sun has set for a while now, as is the case at this time of year in Nunavik. Shortly before 5 p.m., he left his home on foot to pick up his son from daycare, a few hundred meters away.

Richard is wrapped up in his parka, and does not directly hear his neighbor shouting something to him through the window. He removes his hood and listens.

There is a polar bear!! Be careful!, she told him.

For a second, it is difficult for Richard to fully realize what is happening. pass. A bear has never been seen in the area of ​​Kuujjuaq, which is far from the sea and therefore from the animal's usual territory.

I turned around, and I saw the bear chasing a person! […] I was in the middle of the street, and I saw my neighbor go up the stairs and run home.

A quote from Richard Gordon, resident of Kuujjuaq

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Richard Gordon was walking down the street when he saw the animal chasing his neighbor.

The hunted man barely had time to return to his house. The railing of his balcony slowed the bear in his course.

Seeing that his prey was now out of range, the pachyderm turns and changes target. He begins to walk towards Richard, who immediately flees in the direction of his home.

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About fifty meters separates him from his door .

I wasn't supposed to run, but I couldn't help it. I went up the steps and was able to come home, shouting to my parents that there was a bear, says the young father.

The bear came running, ran up the stairs and pushed the door to get in.

A quote from Richard Gordon, resident of Kuujjuaq

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The bear was filmed by many residents of Kuujjuaq. (Archive photo)

Richard then puts himself against the door and pushes with all his strength to prevent the animal to return in turn. His father, Willie, runs to give him a helping hand.

Both of them, their hearts beating and their spirit in all directions, they succeed in preventing the animal from entering.

Then we heard loud footsteps on the stairs. The bear came down and looked out of the windows below. My father went to look and came face to face with the bear! It was crazy. […] Luckily, I didn't have my son with me, he remembers.

< img alt="The bear in front of the police car. " class="PictureImage-sc-f0aa5057-2 kmYcCL transition-opacity ease-out" style="opacity:1" loading="lazy" src="https://images.radio-canada.ca/q_auto,w_700/v1/ici-info/16x9/ours-polaire-kuujjuaq.jpg">Open in full screen mode

The Nunavik Police Department was dispatched to the scene.

The bear then continues its run down the street. He is shot by a hunter a little further away. Since the community was not equipped to safely relocate this type of predator, killing it was the only solution at that time to protect residents.

This meeting, possibly dramatic, will undoubtedly have marked both Kuujjuamiut. Willie Gordon, who owns a cottage near Kuujjuaq, explains that he has become a little more fearful during his outings in the tundra.

When I go out at night to put gas in the generator, I am now afraid there will be a bear! It wasn't like this before, where we knew there were wolves and foxes, but no bears.

A quote from Willie Gordon, resident of Kuujjuaq

Like many residents, Willie Gordon has now developed the habit of arming himself before venturing out of the village.

It is difficult to explain the presence of this bear near Kuujjuaq, according to the researcher and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Northern Biodiversity, Dominique Berteaux.

The event is however part of a trend, observed elsewhere in the country, where bears venture near villages due to lack of adequate sea ice for hunting.

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In winter, bears walk on the ice floe in search of prey. (Archive photo)

Bears are animals that depend on sea ice for food. In winter, they travel on the frozen sea to hunt seals, which is their main source of food.

If the ice is slow to form, if the pack ice is not present, that's where they tend to stay on land and wander, trying to find food. This is where we can see them closer to the communities.

A quote from Dominique Berteaux, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Northern Biodiversity

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Dominique Berteaux, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Northern Biodiversity

Their whole life revolves around the ice floe. As soon as there is a change in the sea ice, there is a change in the behavior of bears, which can sometimes make them more present in communities, adds the teacher and researcher.

The risk of seeing more bears venturing near communities is very real in the context of climate change, according to Dominique Berteaux.

Over the decades, as the seas warm, these large mammals should have less and less sea ice to hunt.

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Sea ice loss due to climate change is a significant threat to polar bear habitat. (Archive photo)

There could then be a transitional period, where more bears may venture near communities in search of food.

As Ungava Bay and Nunavik are to the south of its range, it is unfortunately likely that the polar bear may no longer be present in the territory at a certain point.

They will stay on the ground, fast longer. Conditions will be less good for reproduction, especially for females, the population will weaken. They will stay on land if they can no longer go to sea, explains the scientist.

Despite this poor prognosis resplendent, bears will continue to be part of the landscape of Nord-du-Québec for a good while. The Kuujjuaq event recalls the importance for communities to prepare well for this type of intrusion, which is likely to occur more frequently in the future.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116