For a short time each year, the
remote Canadian town of Churchill, Manitoba is transformed
into the Polar Bear Capital of the World. This curious
place, accessible by air, sea or train, with its long
main street, low rise buildings and distinctly pioneering
feel, becomes the centre of attention for bears and
In October and November, as many as 1200 bears gather
here on the icy tundra, waiting for the sea to freeze
so they can wander out in search of seals. After fasting
for the summer, the bears are particularly hungry. Churchill
is perched on a spit of land between the western shore
of Hudson Bay and the Churchill River and for centuries,
this peninsula has been the bears natural access point
into the bay.
Polar bears have the ability to detect scent from as
far away as 20 miles. Churchill proves irresistible,
particularly if the big freeze is taking a while to
happen. But dont be concerned, the resident Polar Bear
Police have a tried and tested humane procedure for
dealing with strays that wander where they are not wanted.
It involves a rather large trap, tranquilliser dart,
a brief stay in the polar bear jail, then a helicopter
trip out of town to relocate somewhere more appropriate.
This closely monitored procedure works well for the
bears and the townsfolk.
The great advantage of polar bear watching in Churchill
is that its a comfortable adventure. Instead of camping
on an ice field with an arctic wind howling through
your tent, after youve spent a day with the bears you
simply return to civilisation, eat a hearty home cooked
meal and then sleep in a comfortable hotel bed.
Temperatures can range from minus ten degrees to nine
degrees and although there is likely to be snow and
possibly rain, there is also a good chance of having
bright, clear days so bring sunglasses. The particularly
dark nights and lack of artificial lighting outside
of town, you may well get to witness a display of the
Churchill occupies a transitional zone where the stunted
trees of the taiga meet the mosses of the tundra. Blanketed
with snow in the winter and covered by thousands of
bogs and lakes in the summer, this terrain is completely
flat until it reaches the sloping banks of the Churchill
River and the ridge around Hudson Bay, whose grey quartzite
boulders have been rubbed smooth by the action of the
ice, wind and water.
About the Author:
Douglas Scott works for The
Rental Car Hire Specialist. and is a free lance
writer for The Churchill Rental Site