Gaspe polar bear 'neutralized', alert lifted in Quebec

In this image made from video on Monday, April 22, 2019, rescue workers release a polar bear somewhere in Chukotka, Russian Far East. A polar bear which was found roaming around a village in eastern Russia, hundreds of miles away from its usual habitat, has been airlifted back home. - FILE PHOTO (AP Photo)

The alert was lifted Sunday morning for Gaspesie citizens, who were advised to stay indoors due to the presence of a polar bear that was roaming in the area.

In a tweet around 9:00 a.m., the Eastern Division of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) provincial police indicated that the animal had been neutralized in the Madeleine-Centre sector by wildlife protection officers (MFFP).

The polar bear was shot, according to various sources.

The day before, Quebec's wildlife protection agency could not explain how a polar bear could have ended up in the Haute-Gaspésie, forcing the residents of the Madeleine-Centre sector, in Sainte-Madeleine-de-la-Rivière-Madeleine, to stay indoors while awaiting its capture.

#ÉvénementEnCours | Un ours polaire a été vu dans le secteur de Madeleine-Centre, près de l'ancien aéroport. Les policiers sécurisent les lieux. Nous demandons aux résidents de rester à l'abri et de ne pas s'aventurer à l'extérieur. Les agents de @MFFP_Quebec sont en route.

— SQ Est (@Surete_Est) April 30, 2022

Wildlife protection officer Sylvain Marois told The Canadian Press on Saturday that his team knew where the polar bear was, but that the operation was delicate because of the unpredictable nature of the animal, especially since it was not in its natural habitat. He said that one must be wary of the bear's aggressiveness.

A wildlife officer saw traces of the animal in the area where a citizen saw it on Saturday morning. Marois said the nature of the intervention depended on several factors and he did not rule out the possibility of the bear being shot.

"We are waiting to have a visual on the animal without provoking it," he said. "We will approach quietly. We want to make sure that when we get a visual on it, we're able to intervene. Whether it's by tranquilizer or if we have to shoot it."

Marois suggested that the animal could have taken advantage of drifting ice to cross the St. Lawrence River. He said this could be the first time his department has observed a polar bear on the south shore of the river.

Earlier this month, a polar bear was seen in Minganie, on the Lower North Shore, more than 200 km northeast of Madeleine-Centre.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 1, 2022.

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