A man from Coachman’s Cove is defending his actions after being charged recently for killing a polar bear in that community back in May.
Terry Fitzgerald said he killed the bear because he believed at the time he was protecting his children and other residents of the community. He told the media he saw a polar bear coming ashore from the salt water and he grabbed his rifle and went to shoot it because his children were outside waiting for the school bus.
At the time, Fitzgerald’s wife said she was terrified that something tragic was going to happen because most people in the community were unaware of the bear’s presence, and it was extremely close to where local fishermen usually gather to work on their boats and wharfs.
Susan Fitzgerald says her husband acted out of necessity to protect the people of the community, with a potentially dangerous animal so near their home, and did so amidst reports of polar bears all over the island attacking and causing disturbances to other communities.
Following the incident, she says her husband immediately called wildlife officials, because prior to that, she explained, the shock of the situation impaired everyone’s judgment.
Now, because of his actions, Terry Fitzgerald faces three charges including, firing a rifle too close to a home, shooting a polar bear out of season and shooting a bear without a license. He is scheduled to appear in court in late June.
Back in May, before any charges were laid, Susan Fitzgerald said while her husband’s actions may not have been the proper protocol to take, based on the circumstances, she feels it was necessary.
“I’m just glad no one was hurt,” she said. “Where everything else goes, we’ll have to wait and see.”
The federal government classified polar bears as a species of special concern last year, which is one level below threatened.
Wildlife officials say anyone who encounters polar bears should avoid eye contact with the animals. Remain calm, give the bear its space and speak calmly and firmly, backing out of the situation without running away.