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
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior IT Support Technician

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service Engineer - Doors / Windows

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist designer and ma...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Developer

£26000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading provider of tu...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - OTE £30,000+

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn