Fifty-five-year-old Louis Reardon got the shock of his life early Thursday when he leapt out of bed to his son's cries of "Polar bear!" as a large male bear broke into their home in northern Newfoundland.
"He had the door busted open to the dining room with his two front paws and his head in through the door," Mr. Reardon said from tiny Goose Cove, just south of St. Anthony, N.L.
"I mean, it frightened the wits right clean out of me, to be that close to a polar bear."
Mr. Reardon's son Damien, 29, had heard a ruckus and flicked on the light to discover the animal. Polar bears are notoriously aggressive when cornered, and Damien slammed on a table trying to frighten the intruder as his father raced for a shotgun.
"A polar bear doesn't usually back down," Mr. Reardon said. "If he came in the house, God knows what he would have done before he went out."
His other son, his daughter, her three young children and her boyfriend had all been sleeping when the commotion started just after 4 a.m.
Mr. Reardon said the bear was starting to retreat and he fired two shots over its head to frighten it. He didn't want to risk wounding it and have it come back furious at him, he explained.
"I just fired over his head to drive him away. You don't take chances on stuff like that."
His cousin, Daniel Reardon, said he was called soon after by wildlife officers who were trying to find Louis's house.
He said the bear beat in doors and broke windows at three other homes, and killed some sheep and ducks at a nearby stable without stopping to eat.
"It seemed like it was killing for the sake of killing. It wasn't hungry."
At one home, the bear "just broke the windows out of each side of the house and went on," he said. "It seemed like he was in a bad mood."
Local RCMP say wildlife officers shot the bear, which witnesses estimate weighed at least 300 pounds or 135 kilograms.
Louis Reardon said polar bears are occasionally spotted as they travel through the region, but he'd never heard of a similar attack.
"Not like that, in my whole life," he said. "It was pretty frightening. What was on my mind was the little kids in the house."