10/22/2012 6:50:13 PM

Getting Churchill Ready

As polar bears migrate to the edge of the Hudson Bay each fall, so do Polar Bears International staff, volunteers, field ambassadors, scientists, and others. Polar bears just need to lounge in the kelp and wait, but we have to do a lot to prepare for our migration.

Even though we are in the full swing of things in Churchill, Manitoba, I want to give you a little behind the scenes tour of what it takes to make it all happen. 

Before we leaving for Churchill, Jane orders all the food needed for most of the season to be sent up by train. Then she shops in Winnipeg for the rest of the food and sends it on the train. Krista, BJ, and the rest of the Bozeman office staff pack a trailer full of supplies and other things we'll need. After pulling it to Winnipeg, BJ puts that on the train, too. (If you're wondering, there is no road access to Churchill--everyone and everything comes in on a plane, train, or ship.) 

PBI owns one house in Churchill, but rents two or three others from Manitoba housing. This year, one of those houses was furnished, but the other wasn't. When BJ. Jane, and Kt first arrived up north, they had to move all the beds (foam pads), bedding, furniture, kitchen supplies, and everything else needed to furnish a home out of a storage unit and into the houses. That's a lot of lifting, carrying, and sorting. 

Once the houses are set up, there's the technology. BJ hooks all the houses up with Internet access. He makes webcasts happen, and sets up polar bear cams where they're most likely to catch the white bruins hanging out. He also has an endless list of house projects.

At the end of the short season, everything needs to be packed back into storage or shipped home.

It takes a team of PBI staff and volunteers, along with the help of lots of friends in Churchill, to make polar bear season accessible to all the people watching from the buggies, from their houses, and from their classrooms, but it's worth it to bring the bears' plight to the attention of the world.  

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