Polar Bear Blog – September Update

September is cruising by so time for a bit of a ‘pre-bear season’ update. Bears are still a regular occurrence around Churchill, usually on the outskirts of town but some walking right through. It may be that we have finally secured L5, the waste transfer station, so well that bears are looking for new ways to pass their time.

Funny, how it is almost ten years now since I first wrote about Churchill’s recycling and waste transfer program and there are still almost as many questions now as there were then. Still, Edgar has done a pretty good job of creating a local recycle/re-use facility but, in the next breath, there is talk of re-opening a garbage dump only a kilometre or so from the original site. Oh well, at least we kept a consulting company in business for a while…

Manitoba’s NDP government has come out against oil shipments through the Port of Churchill at the present time. This is fairly good news as Omnitrax has now grumbled an announcement that oil shipments are on hold. Then again, I don’t think there ever actually was one anyway… so whoop-dee-doo.

A massive ship, the Suprastar, is in port right now; measuring 189 metres (600′) long. It looks like it started off from the Port of Gibraltar and made its way to Churchill via the North Atlantic. It almost looks more like a cargo ship than a grain ship, maybe its bringing something in, who knows. Either way, shipping season seems to be going pretty well this year, even without oil.

Over in Alaska, Kaktovik’s bear season is still in full stride. They hit somewhere around fifty bears at the whale carcasses this year – that place just sounds so bizarre to be honest, I really want to check it out. Winter has actually arrived pretty early there, snow covers the ground and grease ice is already forming along the shore. Signs indicate that the Southern Beaufort polar bears should have a pretty good year.

Arctic sea ice hit the 6th lowest total ever… which is pretty much expected now that all that multi-year ice disappeared in the west. Still, I am not sure how much difference that makes right now… from the looks of the ice maps, almost all polar bear populations must spend time, especially September, on land. Still, there looks to be a lot of debate going on right now over just how quickly the planet (and the arctic) is warming.

That’s about it… the bears are pretty spread out this year with polar bear reports all the way from Ontario to Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut. Its kind of interesting to note that almost all arctic communities have resource officers now who haze polar bears away from the communities similar to the Polar Bear Alert program in Churchill – minus the jail, of course.

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