Close-up of a polar bear on land

Photo: Craig Taylor / Polar Bears International

It's Polar Bear Week!

By Alysa McCall, Director of Conservation Outreach and Staff Scientist



31 Oct 2021

It’s Polar Bear Week, our annual celebration and awareness event that normally brings snow, cold, and ice beginning to form on Hudson Bay. But, this year, with lingering warm weather and rain instead of snow, our staff scientists are concerned that the Western Hudson Bay polar bears may be facing a late freeze-up and a delayed return to their seal prey.

During Polar Bear Week, we’ve planned a range of educational programs and will also be streaming our Polar Bear Cams. In addition, we’ve launched an effort to raise funds to develop “Detect and Protect” technology to alert communities of approaching bears—an important safety measure as more polar bears are forced ashore by melting sea ice, and for longer periods, where they risk possibly deadly encounters with people.

We have a lofty goal of $150,000 to fund this preventive project and are grateful to announce a $10,000 matching grant from the Jalynn H. Bennett Foundation, doubling gifts made during this week.

Will you help us take advantage of this generous match?

Musician Kishi Bashi performing on Buggy One

Photo: Kt Miller / Polar Bears International

Kishi Bashi performing a live concert on Tundra Buggy One®

This year’s Polar Bear Week coincides with the COP26 climate summit, where our delegates will be speaking up for climate action. In addition:

  • Our live Polar Bear Cams will continue from the tundra, offering you a window into the polar bears’ world. So far there have been many sleeping and stretching bears, bears with blue bums (thanks to local blueberry patches!), seaweed snackers trying to pass the time, and nursing moms. Our Northern Lights Cam has been active, too, with shimmering displays of dancing lights.

  • We’ve also scheduled two live Tundra Connections webcasts: Living with Polar Bears on Tuesday, November 2nd at 12 pm Central and Polar Bears and People, Coexistence in a Changing World on Wednesday, November 3rd at 1 pm Central. To join watch here at the appropriate time.

  • You can also tune in for a live chat on Thursday, November 4th at 12 p.m. Central, Tracking Polar Bears: Past, Present, and Future. You can watch it here.

  • If you missed Kishi Bashi’s concert on the tundra last week, you can watch the archive.

And, finally, we’ve created a free eCard to share during Polar Bear Week. Check it out here and spread some polar bear cheer.

Northern lights

Photo: Dave Sandford

Field Highlight

Knowing that a polar bear is approaching a community before the bear reaches the first street or house is an important first step in preventing surprise encounters, which can end in tragedy for both polar bears and people. This fall in Churchill, where polar bears reliably gather each fall, we are testing four different types of radar, ranging from simple to complex, to test their potential as early warning systems for use by communities, work stations, or camp sites. These systems are able to penetrate darkness, as well as heavy fog and snow, sending an alert that will allow communities to respond with non-lethal steps, from noise-makers to flares. The goal is to help reduce conflict between polar bears and people, avoiding injuries or deaths and allowing them to coexist with each other in a changing Arctic.