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Teen Stranded On Ice Floe With Polar Bears Is Rescued By Parachuters

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CORAL HARBOUR, Nunavut — Battling hypothermia, a 17-year-old hunter stranded on a floating chunk of ice shot and killed a polar bear while trapped for more than a day before being rescued Monday in the Canadian Arctic.

The teen and his 67-year-old uncle, who were polar bear hunting, were reported missing late Saturday, Ed Zebedee, director of the Government of Nunavut's protection services branch, said Monday.

The snowmobile the pair were riding broke down about 11 miles (17 kilometers) from Coral Harbour, a tiny community on Nunavut's Southampton Island in the northern part of Hudson Bay in Canada's Arctic.

As they walked toward the community to get help, they became separated. A large chunk of ice broke off, setting the teen adrift, Zebedee said.

The uncle was picked up Sunday morning. Searchers on snowmobiles located the man as he walked on the pack ice off the coast of the island.

His nephew, meanwhile, remained lost.

Sometime between Saturday and Sunday, the teen, who was armed with a rifle, encountered three bears, an adult and two older cubs, on the same large ice pan.

"He did have to shoot the polar bear to protect himself," Zebedee said. "There were two other bears on the ice pan but they stayed away from him so he didn't shoot at them at all."

The two cubs remained with the adult carcass and the teen managed to position himself as far away as he could from the remaining animals.

Jean-Pierre Sharp, an official with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, said an aerial search was launched Sunday morning.

A pilot on a small plane chartered by a government search-and-rescue agency spotted the teen Sunday afternoon and also saw the carcass of a bear down below. Zebedee said the crew on board dropped a plastic container of chocolate bars and candy to the stranded boy.

A Hercules aircraft also spotted the boy Sunday, but lost sight of him as the plane circled back to take another look and darkness set in.

The crew continued to search for the teen through the night, dropping flares to illuminate the snowy landscape, but couldn't find him, Sharp said.

On Monday morning, the crew on board the military search-and-rescue aircraft again spotted the youth, who had drifted about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from where the snowmobile had broken down, Sharp said.

Two search-and-rescue technicians parachuted to a larger ice floe a short distance away to mount their rescue attempt.

The two remaining bears were still in the area when the rescuers arrived, Zebedee said.

The teen, whose name was not released, was taken to hospital in Churchill, Manitoba, to be treated for hypothermia.

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