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Polar Bear Attack - Analysis

Part 1: Text & Photos
Part 2: More Photos

The preceding images (the majority of them, anyway) do appear to document an actual polar bear attack described in harrowing detail in published accounts dating from September 2003.

Contrary to what is claimed in the viral email, however, the attack took place near the Arctic village of Kimmirut in Nunavut, the northernmost territory of Canada, not in the Yukon Territory or Alaska.

The victim of the mauling was an Inuit hunting guide by the name of Kootoo Shaw, who was encamped with three American caribou hunters when the attack occurred. As the hunters recounted it, the bear rolled into camp and took an idle swat at their tent first, then headed for Shaw's, ripping it open and proceeding to jump up and down on him, clawing at his back and tearing at his scalp. "I could feel his heavy breathing and feel his teeth on the back of my neck," he later told a reporter for the Northern News Service. "I thought he was going to bite my neck." The hunters shot and killed the bear before it could inflict a fatal wound.

Shaw was quickly transported to the nearest hospital, where it took 300 stitches to reattach his scalp, according to CBC News. He was also treated for "multiple bites and slashes" on his back, arms, and feet.

A year later, the unflappable Shaw was still recovering from the attack but said he had every intention of going back to work as a guide. "One tough camper" indeed.

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Sources and further reading:

'I Thought I Was Going to Die'
CBC News, 4 September 2003

Guns Not at Ready Before Bear Attack
CBC News, 5 September 2003

Polar Bear Survivor Passes on His Story
Northern News Services, 10 May 2004

Polar Bear Attack Legend - The True Story
Bear Hunting Magazine, 15 August 2006


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