November 8, 2017
Take a trip to the polar bear capital of the world: Churchill, Manitoba!
Did you know that you can visit polar bears in their natural habitat here in Canada? Canada is known for being a polar bear habitat but did you know that travelling to their location is pretty easy? First, you would have to travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba. From there, it would be just a short flight to Churchill, Manitoba, which is also known as the polar bear capital of the world. There is a very good chance, depending on the season, that you will see many polar bears there roaming around on the shores of Hudson Bay.
The Manitoba government estimates that the number of polar bears in the western Hudson Bay area is somewhere between 900 and 1,000. Male polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba can grow to be heavier than 600 kilograms and can stand at 10 feet tall. Additionally, polar bears are at the top of the food chain, meaning they have no natural enemies! From mid-November to mid-July, you can find the majority of polar bears spending their time out on the sea ice of Hudson Bay. According to EverythingChurchill.com, October and November are the best months to view the polar bears as the bears move from their summer habitat on the tundra back to the Manitoba shores of the Hudson Bay where they hunt for seals.
Churchill, Manitoba has a Polar Bear Alert Program in place, which holds polar bears that have wandered into town, in a holding facility. This “jail” aims to make the polar bear’s stay extremely uncomfortable so that the bear would not want to come back. The bears are eventually sent back to the sea ice after an appropriate amount of time without any food. The Polar Bear Alert Program is one of the most successful animal conservation programs in North America. The program first started to only protect people and property, but now the polar bears welfare has become a priority as well.
In order to secure a spot on the tour, it is recommended that you book your trip six months to one year in advance. Due to obvious safety reasons, the bears can only be seen via an official tour. The tour is equipped with tundra vehicles that allow tourists to safely view the polar bears. However, there are limits on how many of these vehicles can operate. Manitoba Conservation restricts the number of tour operators and vehicles in prime polar bear viewing territory, to minimize the impact to the surrounding tundra and to continue to keep the bears happy.