Impressive aurora borealis displays have graced the skies over Churchill this past week with incredible waves of green reflecting off the foamy Hudson Bay below. While the polar bear season is just getting started, the northern lights are stealing the show like never before. This recent photo by Churchillian Katie DeMeulles gives one an idea of what has been appearing almost nightly here.
With temperatures in the freezing range, bears have been moving about the tundra in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA). Polar rovers have been tracking nearly a half dozen bruins of the white variety along the coast and further inland. There have also been some polar bears in and around town in higher numbers than other years this early in the season. One 1000 lb. male tried to check himself in to the hospital by breaking through the ambulance entrance door. Conservation officers arrived on scene and darted him and transported him to the polar compound facility near the airport. Reportedly the bear was diagnosed with an eating disorder by the on-call hospital doctor….not an uncommon finding at this juncture.
Polar bear on the rocks along Hudson Bay. Jodi Grosbrink photo
A couple of bears have been seen with regularity out along the coast road near miss piggy…the old wreckage of a transport plane nestled in the rocks…as well as the waste transfer station further inland. This time of year can be incredibly dangerous for wayward travelers venturing out on their own. Because it’s not the heart of the season yet, some people get lulled into a sense of security that can be dangerous. The same effect happens in the Summer when a few polar bears arrive in the area. Because polar bears are not supposed to be around doesn’t mean they aren’t. I’m amazed there has not been any major incidental meetings in the last decade around the town and coastal area. Keep your fingers crossed.
With the week moving over the hill, we will see what comes with the other side. It’s always something new that captures one’s imagination in this northern region. For now, while bears and other wildlife are amassing, the sky is the limit….actually limitless…with scintillating light shows. Enjoy them while you can. And if you want to brave the cold of winter, come back for the Northern lights and Arctic Cultures trips offered by Natural Habitat Adventures in March.