Killing for the fun of it
“I think what happened was, because my wife put the washing machine on before we went to bed, we didn’t hear when the bear went to breaking the window on me porch.” These were the words of Michael Sexton when he spoke with me from his Goose Cove home on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula. A polar bear had run amuck just south of St. Anthony, and the whole world had heard about it.
“Things are normally pretty quiet ‘round here. There’s just a little more than 200 people in Goose Cove, and while we see polar bears every year, we like to give them a wide berth. But we don’t often see bears like this one - this one was simply killing for the sake of killing.
“I believe this bear had come down on the ice with the seals. It was certainly fattened up real good - that’s why I say I think it’d been following the seals south. It was probably planning to swim its way back to Labrador.
“But while it was here, it decided to go into me barn – I’m a bit of what you’d call a subsistence farmer. I’ve got some geese, ducks, hens, one goat, and I had three ewes and three lambs. Now I’ve only got two ewes and two lambs, because the polar bear took one of each. It took two ducks, too. But it didn’t eat any of them - it just killed them.
“When I woke up, I saw the RCMP shining their light on the side of the hill. And my way is, when you see police like that, you leave them well enough alone – let them do their job. But they went away and they came back and they went away and they came back and they went away and they came back… so I thought I’d see what they was at.
“That’s when I saw me house was beaten into. Yes sir, that bear was out for killing for the pure fun of it. So I told the police and wildlife officers that I wanted to get me gun - I’ve got a thirty-thirty. A .303 would have been better, but when I realized that bear was after getting in me home, I was just wanting to get a gun.
“But my gun was in me workshop, where I do some carving, and I wasn’t all that brave to go up there alone - there were tracks everywhere. We’ve got a nice bit of snow right now. It’s not been a normal year. It’s been cold, but normally we get snow early in the winter, and this year it’s come late. But we could see tracks everywhere, so we was all worried there was more than one bear. And I don’t like to tamper with something like that. So the RCMP and Wildlife went with me when we went and got me gun.
“Later on they shot that bear and I don’t blame them because, like I say, we get polar bears ‘round here every year, but this one was different - killing for the sake of killing the way it was. That’s why we’re saying we are lucky it was only animals that got killed. Kids were getting ready to go to school, the bus was going to be along shortly, sometimes children have to stand and wait 2-3 minutes… The whole thing put an awful feeling in everybody.”