WINNIPEG – New residents to one northern Manitoba community are being encouraged to not only learn about their new surroundings but the wildlife that calls the area home.
Parks Canada and Manitoba Conservation are holding several sessions, including this Sunday night, throughout the summer and fall in Churchill. The focus will be on polar bear safety and awareness.
The Hudson Bay community is known as the polar bear capital of the world and attracts tourists from every corner of the globe who are looking to catch a glimpse of the giant predators.
According to the Parks Canada website, a typical adult male can weight more than 850 pounds and they are strong, fast and agile.
Parks Canada’s Polar Bear Safety Plan and Manitoba Conservation’s Polar Bear Alert Program are in place to minimize the chance of human and bear encounters. However there is always a chance residents and visitors could encounter a bear in the area at any time. There are bear monitors and patrols in place but the animals could enter the area once it has already been cleared.
In October 2013, two people were mauled by a polar bear in Churchill. 30-year-old Erin Greene was walking home from a Halloween party with two friends when they heard a noise. As she turned around, the bear was already charging full speed towards her.
Before she was able to run, the bear had her head between its teeth and his paws wrapped around her. She needed 28 staples on her head.
It was only thanks to the help of another man in town that she is still alive. Both Greene and the man sustained severe injuries and spent weeks in hospital.
The Parks Canada website is filled with information on what to do if you have an encounter with a polar bear.
When should you call the Polar Bear Alert line?
- If you see a bear in town or on the town border.
- If you observe a bear near any outlying residential area (i.e., Goose Creek, Camp Nanuk, Churchill Northern Studies Centre).
To report the presence of a bear in an area of human use, call the Polar Bear Alert Line at 204-675-BEAR (204-675-2327)
But the animals also pose a threat to residents, and attacks by
bears have occurred. (The Canadian Press)