IGLOOLIK, Nunavut, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A female polar bear and two cubs were killed after the grown bear attacked five hunters on the far-northern Canadian island of Igloolik, the men said.
Hunter John Arnatsiaq told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. the men were attacked Wednesday as they approached their buried cache of walrus meat, known as igunaq.
"All of a sudden the bear was right there," Arnatsiaq, 58, told the broadcaster.
Arnatsiaq said he began beating at the 500-pound bear's face and head with a hammer after the animal lunged at another hunter. During the struggle, he sustained a bite to the hand, a slashed lip and body bruising, he said.
The cubs joined in the attack and the other hunters shot all the bears, the report said.
Arnatsiaq said it was clear the bear and her cubs were hungry and were likely attracted by the walrus meat, one of their natural staples from the Arctic Ocean.
Traditionally, the Inuit people bury walrus or seal meat for months to age and ferment.
With the shrinking of the polar ice cap and warming of seawater, polar bears are considered to be in vulnerable status by various wildlife and scientific groups -- one step away from endangered status.