Polar Bear Attack

Photographs show the aftermath of a campsite attack by a polar bear?

Claim:   Photographs show the aftermath of a campsite attack by a polar bear.

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

Polar Bear Attack in the High Arctic

This is from up in the Yukon, this chap is lucky to be alive. The guy survived the bear attack. The bear jumped on him while he was sleeping in his tent and he managed to get it off of him and shoot it

One tough camper!

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Origins:   The photographs reproduced above appear (with the exception of the last one) to correspond to the aftermath of a polar bear attack on a campsite in the Canadian territory of Nunavut that took place on 2 September 2003. An Inuit guide named Kootoo Shaw, who was accompanying three U.S. hunters, suffered multiple bites and slashes to his back and feet, two broken ribs, and lacerations of his scalp that required 300 staples to close.

The Northern News Services covering Canada’s territories described the attack:

Shaw was guiding a group of American hunters 45 minutes outside of Kimmirut when he was mauled by the bear.

“We didn’t know there was a polar bear in the area,” he said. “He just suddenly appeared in our camp.”

Shaw said the bear first approached the tent the Americans were camping in and tore through it.

It then headed for the tent Shaw was staying in.

“He started ripping through and we managed to get out through the door,” Shaw said.

The hunting guide started to run and was chased by the bear, which was about seven feet tall. Shaw then tripped on a rock and the bear pounced on him.

“His claws started digging into my skin and he was biting my head,” he said.

“He jumped up and down on me four times breaking my ribs.”

One of the Americans was able to shoot the bear and kill it before it was able to do any more damage to Shaw.

The dimensions of the last photograph (the one that shows a severe ankle injury) are different from the others, and several readers have indicated they’ve seen that picture previously (and separately) circulated with text identifying it as the result of a shotgun blast or other gun-related injury.

Last updated:   2 August 2006


Sources Sources:

    Christensen, Neils.   “Man Survives Polar Bear Attack.”

    Northern News Services. 3 September 2003.

    Christensen, Neils.   “Polar Bear Survivor Passes on His Story.”

    Northern News Services. 4 May 2004.

    CBC News.   “Guns Not at Ready Before Bear Attack.”

    5 September 2003.

Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes