Two polar bears near a frozen lake in Churchill

Photo: BJ Kirschhoffer / Polar Bears International

It’s Polar Bear Week!

By Alysa McCall, Director of Conservation Outreach and Staff Scientist



30 Oct 2022

This Week in Churchill

It’s Polar Bear Week, our annual awareness event timed to coincide with the fall gathering of polar bears on the shores of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Canada. Chilled winds and dustings of snow have firmed the tundra under foot, but there is still no sign of sea ice on the bay. Polar bears are moving into the area in anticipation of the return of their sea ice hunting grounds—eager to catch a substantial meal after over four months of fasting on land. Last week our staff also spotted a scampering Arctic fox and a surprise blue heron surveying the coast, well outside of its normal range.

Behind the scenes of Tundra Connections on Buggy One

Photo: Kt Miller / Polar Bears International

Behind the scenes of a Tundra Connections webcast on Buggy One with Environment and Climate Change Canada's Evan Richardson, center, and Polar Bears International's BJ Kirschhoffer and Alysa McCall.

During Polar Bear Week, we’ve planned a range of educational programs and other outreach. 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 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, doubling gifts made during this week.

Will you help us take advantage of this generous match?

As part of our Polar Bear Week celebration, our live Polar Bear Cams will continue from the tundra, letting you join the migration from afar. So far there have been many sleeping and stretching bears and a few seaweed snackers trying to pass the time. Our Northern Lights Cam has been active, too, with shimmering displays of dancing lights. In addition:

P.S. This year’s Polar Bear Week will be followed by midterm elections in the U.S. on November 8th, an important chance for you to cast your ballot for candidates who support climate action. Also, the COP27 climate summit will take place November 6th-18th in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Watch our social media channels for dispatches from our team.

P.P.S. If you missed our broadcasts last week, you can watch the archives here.

BJ Kirschhoffer a top PBI's mobile "Bear-dar" radar tower

Photo: Kt Miller / Polar Bears International

BJ Kirschhoffer a top the mobile "Bear-dar" radar tower in Churchill.

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 refining the use of three types of radar, ranging from simple to complex, to serve as early warning systems of approaching bears—building on earlier promising tests. These systems are able to penetrate darkness, as well as heavy fog and snow, sending a signal that will allow communities to respond with non-lethal steps, from noise-makers to flares. The goal is to help polar bears and people live safely with each other in a changing Arctic.