Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Do Polar Bears Fly?

Greetings All,
We are home (at least for one night) from our Polar Bear Adventure. We were able to squeeze in a tour around Churchill yesterday morning before flying back to Winnipeg. We spotted one more new animal, a Cross Fox, trotting along the shore of Hudson Bay searching for a morsel to eat.

A Cross Fox is a color variant of the more common Red Fox. Our guide got really excited when our bus driver found some wolverine tracks.

A wolverine is a large weasel and is very elusive. They are almost never seen in the wild. Seeing their tracks was a rare treat.

Some have asked "how big is a Polar Bear?". Against a Polar Rover they look quite small but compared to us they are immense. There was a stuffed one in the hotel lobby. I stood next to it so you can get a feel how tall these bears are when they stand up on their hind legs.

I'm not sure if Marc is trying to save me or push me into the bear's jaws.

We had one more surprise in store for us before leaving Churchill.  A Polar Bear was going to be released from the Polar Bear Jail.  Nuisance bears that hang around Churchill are sent to the Polar Bear Jail.  In the past they would be shot. They stay in the jail until the Hudson Bay freezes or until they can get an airlift north. So, yes Polar bears do fly with a little help. A drugged bear was wheeled out of the jail and put on a large net.

He was then air lifted by a helicopter and brought 50 miles north to be released.

This was only the second bear to be air lifted this season and we were lucky to see it. The whole town or at least all the tourists turned out for the event.

We feel so privileged to have seen Polar Bears in the wild. With global warming, their fate is unknown. Tourism has given the bear status in the town of Churchill and it was reassuring to see them protected. The dumps have been closed, people no longer feed the bears and take extraordinary measures to deal with nuisance bears. We hope others will get to visit the Great White Bears of Churchill for generations to come.
Peggy and Marc

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