"Hero" dad mauled to death by polar bear after telling young daughters to "run"

A "hero" dad has been mauled to death by a polar bear on a Canadian island after telling his young daughters to "run away".

Aaron Gibbons, 31, reportedly put himself in between the massive bear and his kids after it began to "charge" at one of them.

While he was attacked and killed by the animal, his children managed to escape to a boat, where they frantically radioed for help.

One relative later said the call was "terrible to listen to".

Aaron, from Nunavut, northern Canada, tragically died at the scene on Sentry Island, a popular fishing and hunting spot in Hudson Bay.

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He had spent the day on the island with his girls, said to be of primary school age, when he was attacked by the bear on Tuesday evening.

He died while trying to protect the youngsters, Global News reports.

“He was enjoying his day with his children,” said Aaron’s uncle, Gordy Kidlapik, who described his nephew as a "hero".

“They were surprised by a bear that had started to stalk or charge toward one of his children. "

He added that Aaron told his children to "run away to the boat" while he put himself between them and the bear to protect them.

Fortunately, the girls managed to escape and get to the vessel.

The father, who was pronounced dead at the scene, didn’t have his rifle to hand at the time of the rare attack, cops said.

The bear was later shot dead by another adult on the remote island, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) added.

Aaron’s shocked cousin, Eric Anoee, also said the dad "died a hero".

He described his relative as a devoted father and a good hunter who spent a lot of time with his daughters, according to CBC .

The island where the tragedy occurred is situated around six miles outside the hamlet of Arviat, on the western shore of Hudson Bay.

Recently, there has been an increase in bear sightings in the area.

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, a day after the tragedy, Eric revealed he lived with "fear" over the possibility of bear attacks.

He wrote: "No words, shock, fear, regrets, concern, Arviat is filled with grief right now, that is my cousin we lost…

"Every fall my neighbour William & I deal with bears coming into our yard, into our yard, as we are concerned for our families lives (sic).

"I live with fear but have to be brave."

It is claimed that bears in the area have become less afraid of people, resulting in more encounters between them and humans.

Eight years ago, a polar bear patrol program was set up, with the support of WWF-Canada, to monitor the community’s perimeter.

The monitoring, which takes place in peak bear season, has led to fewer bears having to be killed, the organisation said.

The last death in Nunavut from a polar bear attack was in 2000.

The Arviat RCMP are investigating Tuesday’s tragedy.

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