NEWS

Polar bear killed in Labrador

05/19/2012 09:58 EDT | Updated 07/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Wildlife officials have shot a polar bear in St. Lewis, Labrador — the third one killed by wildlife or police officers in the province in 2012.

The bear wandered into the community Friday morning. It was shot under the deck of a home in the community later in the day.

Several bears have been Newfoundland and Labrador communities this year. Three of the animals — one in near St. Anthony, one in Greenspond and now one in St. Lewis — have been shot dead.

There were other reports of polar bears in other parts of the province, such as the Baie Verte Peninsula, where sea ice drifted near shore this spring.

Bears travel on the pack ice that moves close to coastal areas depending on the direction of winds. The large mammals hunt for seals on the ice and sometimes come ashore.

Wildlife officials say anyone who encounters a polar bear should:

- Remain calm;

- Give the bear(s) space;

- Back away, get out of the situation, never run;

- If you must speak, do so calmly and firmly; and,

- Avoid direct eye contact with the bear(s)

Last November, the federal government classified polar bears a species of special concern — one level below threatened and two levels below endangered — under the Species at Risk Act.

The species of special concern classification requires that a plan must be devised within three years to prevent the species from becoming endangered or threatened.

Ottawa's move comes almost three years after the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), an arm's-length scientific advisory body, recommended the special-concern listing for the polar bear.

The United States listed the polar bear as a threatened species in 2008, citing shrinking sea ice due to climate change.

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