A search and rescue helicopter in Canada was damaged due to a “curious” polar bear, said the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The CH-149 Cormorant helicopter was at an airfield in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. On September 16, poor weather conditions grounded the aircraft at Saglek airfield.
“The crew had to park the aircraft down below, not up at elevation like they wanted to,” said Lt.-Col. Brent Vaino, the squadron commander of the search-and-rescue team. “Because of that, it’s an area with a body of water on either side, and polar bears do occasionally transit on either side of them. And in this case, that’s what happened.”
The RCAF posted a series of tweets explaining the incident, as well as the damage done by the bear.
“Sometime overnight, a curious polar bear came by to investigate the helicopter, causing some superficial damage as it pushed on a side door, popped out an emergency exit window, and removed a small cover panel on the nose.”
The Air Force continued, saying that they easily fixed the issues.
“The polar bear did not get inside the helicopter, and there were no crew members in the vicinity at the time. After an inspection, repairs were completed, and the crew resumed flights on their planned two-week mountain flying search and rescue exercise.”
Most polar bears live north of the Arctic Circle in places like Canada, Alaska, Russia, Greenland, and Norway.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), they estimate that there are between 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears globally. In addition, between 60 to 80 percent of them live in Canada.
However, they are “vulnerable” according to IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, meaning the global population is decreasing. Much of the decrease is due to climate change.