After a brief elation that there would finally be a real Churchill blizzard for Halloween, our film crew started realizing that the amount of trick-or-treaters actually trick-or-treating is kind of directly related to the amount of blowing snow really blowing. As in, we had a genuine Churchill blizzard but the streets were pretty barren!!!
But, as usual, things tend to start on Churchill time around here. As the sun started setting, the costumed kids showed up; some braving the windy night while others cruised the town, tumbling out of mini-vans and pickup trucks at each stop before loading up with loot and loading back into the vehicle.
We walked around filming patrollers and trick-or-treaters, did some interviews and gave out some Japanese treats to mixed reviews… it was cold and fun. I mostly drove the van behind the film crew walking the streets of Churchill now that I think about it… so more weird and fun.
RCMP, Polar Bear Alert, EMS, Parks Canada and the Churchill Fire Department cruised around town, patrolling the streets and helping another Halloween roll along without any bear encounters. We did see fresh bear tracks from the Churchill River towards the Port in the afternoon but that one must have wandered into a bear trap or simply had better things to do than visit.
Speaking of which, there are hardly any polar bear traps out this year. For about as long as I can remember, there have been seven or eight culvert traps set out around the perimeter of Churchill. It sounds like a new policy does not allow Manitoba Conservation to hunt seals for these traps anymore so they are now baited with fish instead of a burlap bag of seal meat.
As with most of bear season, I am not completely sure what I think about this development. I am a bit of a ‘live and let live’ guy but I also understand that you have to take into account public safety. Its a bit of a fine line. Polar Bear Alert seems to have taken a more aggressive approach with hazing bears towards the Churchill River, with some decidedly mixed reviews. On the other hand, fewer bears are ending up in bear jail and the traps are really a solution dating back to the early 1970s…
Then again, this decision may stem from the new polar bear drugs issued to Conservation officers. It sounds like the bears take longer to ‘go down’ with them and this has raised concern that a newly darted bear may be problematic. Hard to say, really. Polar Bear Alert doesn’t talk all that much so explaining all this is about as easy as explaining Ladoon’s kennel to someone.
Either way, its all made for some good discussion. A lot of tour operators and local bear folk think maybe its time for a new approach to bears. While Polar Bear Alert does a good job of protecting the community, maybe its time for some new passive technology to monitor bears close to Churchill then possibly only handle the ones deemed as real threats. There is a lot of talk right now, not sure if it will go anywhere…