U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)-– Some details have been revealed about the polar bear attack by a sow and cub at the Panarctic oil exploration station on King Christian Island in 1983. The attack was uncovered with a Freedom of Information Act request by AmmoLand, requested by this correspondent. It was previously reported on AmmoLand on September 7, 2022. In that article, the ficticious names of Joe and Dave were used. Their true names were Dana and Gary. The person who witnessed the bear attack his colleague and who shot the bear was Dana, who has since retired and lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He was only 18 at the time. He was able to apply and get a job as a roustabout because his father was a foreman at the Panarctic base camp. The victim was 30 years old. His name was Gary Edmond.
On December 18, 1983, the camp on King Christmas Island had only been open for a couple of days. There were no dogs at the camp to warn of polar bears. Ordinarily, dogs would have been present and would have provided some warning.
Gary, who was mauled and nearly eaten by the polar bear, was new to the camp as well. He did not know where the incinerator was. He took a right turn instead of a left. That took him to the back of the camp where the sump was instead of to the incinerator. The bears were near the sump.
Dana grew up on a farm in northern Alberta. He had hunted deer with his father’s .303 British bolt action rifle before signing on to Panarctic. He knew how to operate a bolt action rifle, such as the one on King Christian Island. That rifle did not have optics, only open sights.
It is a bad idea to keep a rifle with optics in a warm environment, then take it outside into the extreme cold. The sudden exposure to cold can cause the inside of the scope to fog, or the thermal shock can cause lenses to crack or seals to be breached.
At the Panarctic camp on King Christian Island, Dana lost sight of Gary. Then he heard him yelling and saw him come back around the corner with the bear after him. Dana rushed to the camp building. He knew where the only rifle on King Christian Island was kept. When he paused at the camp door, he looked back, and saw the bear swat Gary’s legs. Gary went down.
Dana charged in, woke up the radio operator, and informed him what was going on. Gary came out with the rifle, a .308 or 30-06 bolt action. He fired a couple of shots in the air. They were not very loud as the report dissipated upward into the cold, arctic air.
Alerted by the radio operator, everyone at the camp came to help search for Gary and the polar bear. Dana pointed out where he thought the bear had gone, when it dragged Gary back around the corner. The driver of the front-end loader went looking and found the bear and Gary first. The operator fought for Gary, using the front-end loader and its forks, in a scene that might have been made for a movie about aliens.
Dana waited for the foreman to show up in the pickup truck. When it showed up, he jumped in, carrying the rifle. Dana was the only armed person in the camp. The operator of the front-end loader had confronted the bear. They heard the front-end loader honking.
As the foreman and Dana approached the front-end loader, they saw the polar bears leaving. Dana shot the sow and destroyed its jaw, and then it was gone. The yearling cub was about 30-40 yards away. The cub ran off as well.
After Gary was medevaced back to Edmonton and the wounded bear had been killed by Eskimos brought in for the purpose, Panarctic offered to short-circuit Dana’s shift to go home almost two weeks early. Dana decided to stay.
Dana regretted the decision to stay at King Christian Island. He had to be out and about to do his work. It was always dark in December and January far north of the arctic circle. He continually imagined a polar bear, just out of sight, in the perpetual dark, such as when he was putting out smudge cans of toilet paper and diesel fuel for runway lights.
Only one gun was on the site. He was not allowed to take the company gun with him. No one was allowed to have or carry sidearms at Panarctic sites.
Dana stayed working for Panarctic for another 6 or 7 years, then quit to be closer to home. He had gotten married. He eventually became a welder but had a cardiac arrest two years ago and is now retired.
He is still a hunter. He harvested two deer and a moose last season. He uses a .338 Winchester Magnum in a Browning bolt action Medallion rifle with a Boss muzzle brake attachment and a Burris Eliminator scope.
Gary, the man who was mauled, underwent a lot of surgeries. His scalp was hanging off in strips; Dana saw tendons and bones in his arm.
Dana said he never wanted to go through a bear attack again.
Dana is unhappy with the current Trudeau administration’s push to ban and confiscate guns. He said nearly everyone he knows voted against Prime Minister Trudeau.
Many in Canada’s western provinces treasure their ability to keep and use firearms.
Dana has wondered why there was so little coverage about the polar bear attack at the Panarctic station in 1983.
Opinion: The government did not want the serious danger of polar bears made more obvious in the eyes of the public. There was little coverage of the polar bear attack. There was a short article published in the Edmonton Journal, on page 1, on December 20, 1983. Details of the attack would never have been known, aside from local coverage, if not for the Freedom of Information Act request conceived by this correspondent and executed by AmmoLand.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.