Close up of a polar bear's face

Photo: Craig Taylor / Polar Bears International

Polar Bear Week Inspires Climate Action During Annual Migration

Concurrent with COP26, Polar Bears International Hosts Polar Bear Week During the Polar Bear Migration



26 Oct 2021

Concurrent with COP26, Polar Bears International Hosts Polar Bear Week During the Polar Bear Migration

Explore the Arctic via Livestreams, Scientist Chats, Educational Programming and More; Get Involved with Initiatives to Protect Polar Bears and People

CHURCHILL, CANADA (October 25, 2021)  The ninth annual Polar Bear Week is almost here, happening October 31 - November 6, 2021. Every year, Polar Bears International (PBI), the only nonprofit organization dedicated solely to wild polar bears and Arctic sea ice, hosts the event to celebrate the Arctic, educate people around the world about polar bears and their melting ecosystem, and inspire people to preserve our planet for future generations. 

Polar Bear Week coincides with the annual gathering of hundreds of polar bears on the shores of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Canada, who wait for the sea ice to freeze so they can stop fasting and resume hunting seals out on the frozen ocean. The 2021 polar bear migration and Polar Bear Week also coincide with the COP26 United Nations Climate Conference. 

“Polar bears have captured the human imagination and become icons of climate change,” says Dr. Steven Amstrup, Chief Scientist at Polar Bears International, “​​During this year’s migration, world leaders will be discussing the future of our planet at COP26. We must act swiftly and collectively. If greenhouse gas emissions continue as-is, the trajectory polar bears are on is not a good one… we predict most will disappear by the end of this century. But it is clear that we have time to protect polar bears, in turn benefitting the rest of life on earth, including ourselves.” 

The Churchill population of polar bears (Western Hudson Bay) has experienced a 30% decline since the early 1980s. The summer ice-free period is three to four weeks longer than it was in the 1980s, straining the limits of the bears’ fat reserves and leading to more human-bear interaction. Therefore, Polar Bears International supported the town of Churchill in establishing the world’s first polar bear safe community, which minimizes negative encounters between people and polar bears so both can thrive. 

A polar bear bear standing on broken up ice

Photo: BJ Kirschhoffer / Polar Bears International

This year’s Polar Bear Week is focused on protecting polar bears and people, and there will be several field research projects happening in Churchill this fall:

  1. “Protect and Detect Polar Bears” bear-dar development: for the past couple years in Churchill, PBI has been testing and training the “SpotterRF” Artificial Intelligence radar system to detect bears and alert the community. This fall, the team will be testing three to four different types of radar, with different complexity levels and use cases. They include Lidar (short-range radar, in partnership with Brigham Young University), Hensoldt (a low power, long range X-band radar), and a Mixed Senor Radar (medium to long range radar, in partnership with Ohio State University). 

  2. 3M Bear Trackers: Polar Bears International has been working with 3M to develop small, non-invasive tracking devices that can be attached to a polar bear’s fur, offering alternatives to traditional collar and ear tags. This fall PBI is testing this technology on wild polar bears in Southern Hudson Bay in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada, York University, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

  3. Expanding the “Polar Bear Safe Community” program beyond Manitoba to Ontario: following a successful trial in Churchill, PBI will be supporting several areas launching community safety programs to promote coexistence between polar bears and people. 

“We’ve been honored to support the town of  Churchill in creating the world’s first polar bear safe community,” says Krista Wright, executive director at Polar Bears International. “We want both polar bears and people to thrive, and look forward to expanding these efforts. It’s important to protect the bears we have in the short-term while also looking at the bigger picture of slowing climate change to protect future generations of polar bears and people alike.”

During the 2021 Polar Bear Week, anyone will be able to tune into the Polar Bear Live Cams, play polar bear cam bingo, download curriculums and activities, and participate in live-streamed “Tundra Connections,” featuring scientists and experts via Tundra Buggies amidst the migration in Wapusk National Park. The Tundra Buggies are provided by Frontiers North Adventures, a leader in sustainable tourism, and 2021 marks the first year where a new  proof-of-concept, zero-emission electric vehicle Tundra Buggy® will join the fleet. This year also marks the first time when Polar Bears International will be live-streaming a concert from the tundra. Renowned singer-songwriter and violinist Kishi Bashi will be playing a special sunset set from a Tundra Buggy®, featuring polar bears in the background, on Wednesday, October 27, at 3:30 CST (4:30 EST). RSVP here.

A mother polar bear and her cubs laying on the ice

Photo: Dan Guravich / Polar Bears International

How people can get involved in Polar Bear Week:

Across the Arctic, most polar bears are likely to disappear by 2100 unless we shift away from burning rampant fossil fuels, and shift to renewable energy sources. Climate warming will be the focus of the COP26 United Nations Climate Conference, happening during Polar Bear Week, and where PBI will be in attendance as a registered observer organization. Viewers can expect a special Tundra Connections chat via Churchill and Glasgow on November 10th.

Last year’s Polar Bear Week included participation from Parks Canada,, Annenberg Foundation, Frontiers North Adventures, Arctic Refuge Defense Council, Wild Oceans, Oceana, Sierra Club, Canadian Geographic, Defenders of Wildlife, Government of Canada - North, WWF Arctic Programme, Wild Women Expeditions, The Wildlife Collective, Peppermint Narwhal, Shared Planet, ABQ BioPark, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Aquarium du Quebec, Brookfield Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo, Columbus Zoo, Como Zoo, Discovery Place, Edmonton Valley Zoo, Henry Vilas Zoo, Jenkinson’s Aquarium, Kansas City Zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo, Louisville Zoo, Maryland Zoo, Memphis Zoo, Munich Zoo, North Carolina Zoo, National Zoo, Pairi Daiza, Parc Zoologique Lisieux CERZA, Point Defiance Zoo, Saint Louis Zoo, San Diego Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, Seneca Park Zoo, Toronto Zoo, Toronto Zoo, Wildlife Conservancy, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Yorkshire Wildlife Park and YWP Foundation, Zoo Berlin, Zoo De La Fleche, Zoo Rostock and more organizations.

Outside of Polar Bear Week, PBI focuses on conservation efforts year-round and relies on global support to make the most impact. 

About Polar Bears International
Polar Bears International’s mission is to conserve polar bears and the sea ice they depend on. Through media, science, and advocacy, we work to inspire people to care about the Arctic, the threats to its future, and the connection between this remote region and our global climate. PBI is the only nonprofit organization dedicated solely to wild polar bears and Arctic sea ice, and our staff includes scientists who study wild polar bears. The organization is a recognized leader in polar bear conservation. For more information, visit

Founded in 2004 by Charles Annenberg Weingarten, Director and Vice President of the Annenberg Foundation, is a philanthropic multimedia organization with a mission to champion the selfless acts of others and create a portal into the natural world. With over 100 live streaming cameras, is the largest live nature network in the world.

About Frontiers North Adventures
A certified B Corporation® and leader in sustainable travel since 1987, Frontiers North specializes in authentic adventures in Canada’s North, providing guests with the opportunity to experience the wildlife, history and culture of its people. Owners-and-operators of the official Tundra Buggy®, Frontiers North offers a variety of tour programs, the most popular being polar bears in Churchill. 

Media Contacts
Annie Edwards, for Polar Bears International

Melissa Hourigan, for Polar Bears International