Saving a Species, One Polar Bear at a Time

On a recent trip to Canada, Martha discovered a program aimed at protecting the threatened polar bear species during winter migration. The Manitoba Polar Bear Alert Program is a humane way to deal with the animals that wander into the town of Churchill during their migration.

As a tiny town at the crossroads of bear migratory paths, Churchill is known as the polar bear capital of the world. Locals regularly face the dangerous prospect of encountering scavenging bears in their community. In the past, these polar bears would have been shot and killed, but the alert regimen enables wildlife officials to remove wayward bears from harmful situations and safely release them back into the wild.

Program staffers first try to scare the polar bears back into natural areas. If that effort fails, they capture them with traps or dart guns, then move them to a polar bear holding facility in a former military warehouse outside town. To prevent "return offenders," wildlife officers keep the bears in comfortable captivity until winter, when it's possible to transport the bears to the frozen Hudson Bay.

Visit Polar Bears International for more information about this program and other efforts to protect polar bears.

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