Polar bears and Polar Bear Alert officers are getting a head-start on the season. The pre-season wave of polar bears is coming through after a bit of a September lull. This week, conservation officers were spotted darting an errant bear along the coast this week complete with helicopter assist to keep the bear from retreating to the ocean and possibly drowning. Once tranquilized it was airlifted out of the area.
Reports of bear bangers are fairly common now so there must be a few bears camping out in and around Churchill. Usually there is an early season influx of bears in the first week or two of October, most of these bears end up in the polar bear jail before the main lump of tourists arrives. From my experience, this is usually a bit of a mix of mother and cubs, a pregnant (or not quite pregnant) female or two and some juveniles.
A couple large males usually show up early in October as well, headed for Brian Ladoon’s dog yard where they hang out for the season. I know there was one that almost cruised through buggyland almost always on October 4th on his way to Brian’s but not sure if he’s still around anymore. We will see…
Other than that, the beluga whales mostly left around September 10th, killer whales passed through again this season and the Port of Churchill is currently loading its eighth ship of the season, Desert Peace. Ahhh… soothing.
As for the general state of Churchill’s polar bears, there is an excellent write-up at www.polarbearscience.com questioning some of the recent polar bear studies/claims/hype. It really sums up well my concerns with what has happened to polar bear research in the last ten years.
This is a neat website as it kind of follows my own path through published papers and comes to many similar conclusions that I did – especially the idea that the Churchill polar bear population has a carrying capacity of around 1000 bears and that it is not in ‘freefall’ as is commonly portrayed. I like it – its not really a read for the ‘casual’ polar bear fan… more for the polar obsessed.