Happy Holidays From Churchillpolarbears.org

Churchillpolarbears.org and Natural Habitat Adventures wish you a happy holiday season and a safe and celebratory weekend! Enjoy theses polar bear photos and thank you for visiting our website. Looking forward another great year ahead.

Sparring polar bears on the Churchill, Manitoba tundra.

Sparring bears captured up close with a telephoto lens.

Polar bear mom and cub on the rocks in Churchill, Manitoba.

Polar bear sow and cub on the precambrian shield.

polar bear waiting out he fall in Churchill, Manitoba.

Polar bear on the tundra in the CWMA.


Two coys nurse from mom on the tundra in Churchill,MB.

Coys nursing in the CWMA. Eric rock photo.

Polar bear cooling off in the snow.

A polar bear relaxes and cools in the snow. Colby Brokvist photo.





Aurora Borealis Preview Photos and Fact

In Churchill, Manitoba fall is polar bear season and winter is aurora season. The rest of the year provides overlapping sights and wildlife encounters but those two seasons are pretty exclusive for those attractions. You can see northern lights in Churchill just about year-round though the most reliable time is the heart of winter. The Hudson Bay is frozen and therefore the moisture level in the air is low influencing cloud cover. Natural Habitat Adventures is gearing up for the aurora season that begins on January 31. This year promises to be the most amazing year so far with a record number of people taking the train or flying to Churchill for a glimpse of the magical lights.

FACT: There needs to be solar flares on the sun or solar wind for the aurora borealis to happen. When particles from the sun enter Earth’s atmosphere and collide violently with gas atoms various colors of “northern lights” appear.


Check out this link for aurora forecasts in the north:


Aurora borealis in Churchill.

Aurora in the northern Churchill sky.

Aurora season in Churchill, Manitoba is coming at the end of January.

Aurora borealis in Churchill. Colby Brokvist photo.

Aurora borealis over the edge of the boreal forest in Churchill, Manitoba.

Aurora in the boreal forest. Brad Josephs photo.

Churchill River mushing hut under the aurora.

Incredible shot of musher hut with aurora above. Brad Joseph photo.




Why Polar Bears Congregate In Churchill

Polar bears congregate every year around Churchill, Manitoba to await ice formation in the western and southern Hudson Bay. By early to mid November, polar bears are omnipresent in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area with travelers on polar rovers seeing more than 50 polar bears in a single excursion to the tundra.

Churchill polar bear.

Polar bear looking at the polar rover. Photo: Colby Brokvist

There are a few major factors for the bears anticipating the freeze-up in the Churchill region.First and foremost is simple topography relating to the location of the town of Churchill and the jutting land that extends into the bay known as Cape Churchill. As you can see by the map the shelf is quite evident.

While this shelf extension is not all that crucial in itself as a major congregating hot-spot, the contributing factors qualify it as such. Counter-clockwise sea currents cause ice formation to get hung up there. The stalling affect on the flow of water coupled with fresh water flow from the Churchill and Nelson Rivers, to name two of the biggest in the area, create the perfect formula for ice formation here. Since fresh water freezes faster than salt water, the ice will build early off the coast and then combine with the northern ice formed in the colder regions. That pack ice is pushed in by the currents and south winds. All this make for a “perfect storm” of ice formation at the most accessible place in the sub-Arctic.

Polar bears wandering the coast in Churchill,MB.

Three polar bears explore the coastline anticipating the freeze-up. Karen Walker photo.

Of course, there is another reason polar bears like Churchill. Human population. A community of humans brings all the side benefits for animals…and in this case hungry polar bears trying to survive to the next seal-hunting season on fat reserves. The aromas and food by-products associated with human life attract every opportunistic species around. Around Churchill, top of the list are the polar bears. Before the old dump was closed down some years ago, polar bears would forage there all day and became a zoo-like attraction to travelers and locals alike. With the majority of that facility closed down, polar bear activity in town escalated over the years. The Polar Bear Alert program has become quite active in attempts to keep up with the burgeoning polar bear appearances in the town.

The polar bear holding facility holds up to 25 polar bears that have been captured due to interactions with humans or coming into the town of Churchill, Manitoba's limits.

Polar bear holding compound in Churchill.

Global warming indications have also caused polar bears to appear on land earlier in the summer months. With sea ice coverage decreasing recently in the Hudson Bay, polar bears are being forced to come on land and seek alternative food sources. I can say from first-hand experience that polar bear sightings in Churchill have increased over the past 15 years. Guiding summer beluga whale trips for over a decade has allowed me to witness the firsthand increase in bear numbers. Bears have also become more successful at seal hunting in the shallow tidal coastal areas around the Churchill region.

Churchill polar bear chewing the seal fat from a kill.

Polar bear enjoying the success of a seal kill. Photo Paul Brown

Overall, the changes in polar bear numbers year-round have spurred Manitoba Conservation officers to adjust their strategy regarding bear management in Churchill. The feeling is this will continue to be readjusted even more over the coming years.




Polar Bear Photos of the Week

The Winter holidays are like no other to look at some favorite polar bear season photos from Churchill. These snowy scenes will give you all that white holiday feeling and hopefully inspire the Christmas or Hanukkah spirit if you’re a bit lacking up to now. Enjoy these amazing shots and come to Churchill to see the polar bears live someday soon.

Polar bear testing the frozen surface of the hudson Bay in Churchill, Manitoba.

Polar bear testing the ice in Churchill.

Polar bears get at each other in the willows with some sparring activity. Churchill, Manitoba.

Sparring snowy polar bears in Churchill. Brad Josephs photo.

A polar bear mother and cub of the year wander the tundra in Churchill, Manitoba.

A polar bear sow with its’ cub of the year. Sean Beckett photo.

Two polar bears go at it ..sparring in the willows after a storm.

Sparring polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba. Colby Brokvist photo.

Arctic fox foraging along the tundra in Churchill, Manitoba.

Arctic fox looking for lemmings.





Looking Back At Churchill’s Northern Nights Hotel

In the early days of polar bear tourism in Churchill, the Northern Nights hotel played a pivitol role in building the foundation for the tourism in the town. Katie and Brett owned the hotel and partnered with Natural Habitat Adventures to form a bond that fostered an incredible jump start to an ever growing eco-tourism business in the region based mainly on polar bear viewing experiences.

Polar bear near the season's end.

Polar bear romping in the snow near Churchill. Eric Rock photo

The hotel was a combination of buildings connected by a narrow, rustic hallway reminiscent of a train car…just longer. The hallway connected the main part of the hotel with lounge and restaurant. The hallway had the old original rooms that were very cabin-like and cozy. The hotel gave one a sense of home, far, far away from home.


In November 2011 the Northern Nights was lost to fire. The blaze raged in frigid-cold weather toward the end of polar bear season that year. Nobody was injured or lost their life thought the building was completely destroyed. After ownership had transferred a few times between locals and out-of towner’s, the end was somewhat poetic in a sense.

Many memories were forged for all the travelers and guides that stayed in the quirky hotel. The characters that worked as staff, such as uncle Joe and Mukluk are gone and the land remains vacant but the welcome feeling remains in the hearts of many. Bears, Belugas and Beers….the hotels motto is also gone, but lives on in Churchill.


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