WINNIPEG – Manitoba government documents indicate polar bear encounters have reached record levels on the shores of Hudson Bay.
They also indicate more of the animals are ending up in a specialized “polar bear jail” in Churchill.
Activity reports from the last three years, analyzed by The Canadian Press, show the number of documented polar bear encounters in Churchill jumped to 351 last year from 229 in 2013.
And the number of bears housed in the town’s holding facility almost doubled to 65 from 36 during the same period.
Daryll Hedman, regional wildlife manager for Manitoba Conservation, says climate change is largely to blame.
Polar bear expert Andrew Derocher at the University of Alberta says the Hudson Bay population is in grave danger.
Shrinking sea ice means bears have less time to hunt seals and spend more time on land without food.
Peter Ewins of the World Wildlife Fund warns that the situation will only get worse unless climate change is addressed.