Youth trapped on ice floe forced to shoot polar bear

A teenager spent two nights adrift on an ice floe in the Canadian Arctic with three polar bears for company before being dramatically rescued, it emerged today.

The 17-year-old youth, named as Jupi Angootealuk, was forced to shoot dead one of the bears after it ventured too close while rescuers desperately tried to locate him from the air.

The young hunter was stranded on an ice floe which had broken away from the mainland and drifted out to sea in weather that regularly dipped below minus 15C.

Mr Angootealuk had left his native town of Coral Harbour, an isolated hamlet of 700 Inuit hunters on the northern edge of Hudson Bay, with his uncle Jimmy Nakoolak on Friday morning. The polar bear season had just begun and the two hunters headed out on to the frozen seas with their rifles to test the ice and look for prey.

But, 18km into their journey, their snowmobile broke down and the couple were forced to risk the journey back on foot. As they walked, they were separated when the ice began breaking up and drifting away in opposite directions.

Despite having badly injured knees, Mr Nakoolak managed to stumble across a search-and-rescue party on Sunday morning who helped raise the alarm that his nephew was stranded on an ice floe.

The floe that Jupi was trapped on was now 10km out to sea and contained a polar bear and her two cubs. At some point the adult polar bear was shot dead by the youth in self defence.

Two aircraft were scrambled to look for the missing teen. Late on Sunday afternoon Phil Amon, a pilot with Kenn Borek Air Ltd, spotted the boy on a patch of ice little more than 30 metres across.

“We circled around him for about 40mins or so,” he told The Globe and Mail. “He never waved at all. I don’t think he really wanted to move because the bears were so close.”

Unable to land on the ice, all Mr Amos could do was drop an emergency rations kit and alert a Hercules transport plane which was carrying a specialist search-and-rescue team.

The Hercules spotted the boy that evening but Jupi was forced to spend a second night on the ice as the plane’s flares failed to keep the area sufficiently well lit to continue the search. The following day two officials parachuted on to a larger ice floe and made their way to Jupi.

Jean-Pierre Sharp, an official at Canada’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, said: “The fact that our technicians were able to parachute in to land on an ice floe close by is an amazing thing for them. It’s kind of like if you would imagine trying to jump from lily pad to lily pad out on some ice and slushy water.”

Yesterday the boy was recovering from hypothermia alongside his uncle in the nearby town of Churchill. Speaking through Coral Harbour’s mayor Jerry Panniuq, Mr Nakoolak described his relief at finding out his nephew was alive.

“It was nice to know that he had a rifle with him and I was kind of worried that he might have been attacked by a bear or something,” he said. “When I heard he shot a bear I was happy to hear about it.”

Despite their critically endangered status, Inuit communities in Canada are still allowed to hunt a limited quota of bears throughout the winter. Each year approximately 450 bears are killed, with snowmobiles replacing

dog sleds as the primary way of stalking the bears.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'