Tuesday, November 30, 2010


For six weeks from mid October through to the end of November, Churchill, in Canada's remote north, becomes a town under siege.

Its local population swells from 900 Churchillians to a whopping 10,000; the attraction, the annual migration to the sea ice of the world's largest, most ferocious land predators.

Each year at this time, a polar bear migration that dates back thousands of years is set in motion as the waters along the western coast of Hudson Bay begin to freeze. With an inborn instinct, polar bears, scattered for hundreds of miles across the tundra, sense this change.

Having fasted on a diet of berries, kelp and grasses for close to three months, the siren call of the ice is irresistible. Prompted by a gnawing hunger for meat, the ravenous bears are enticed by the prospects of a feed they favour above all else; the soft tender flesh of ringed seal pups.

Standing up to three and a half metres tall at full stretch, the largest weighing in at 675 kilograms, these magnificent killing machines move across glacial rock and tundra from their southern stamping grounds for the town that just happens to be on the direct route to the sea ice.

As they approach, Churchill, with years of polar bear encounters, prepares its defenses. Sirens are tested, extra rangers from around the country are brought in to patrol the town's boundaries and divert the invaders. The polar bear jail is readied and rifles are loaded with cracker shells ..... a big bang causing no physical damage

Tours:  Frontiers North Adventures, Winnipeg 800-663-9832, http://www.frontiersnorth.com/

Images copyright Anne Gordon

Posted by Anne Gordon on Tuesday, 30th November, 2010


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