Keeping track of problem bears in Churchill

The City of Churchill has recently taken to posting its problem bear reports on its Facebook page. This is something to keep an eye on, so let’s catch up so that future reports can be put into context.

Figure 1. A bear is transported to Churchill’s polar bear holding facility, from a 2011 Huffington Post article “Polar Bear Prison.”

Photo above:  A bear is transported to Churchill’s polar bear holding facility (from a 2011 Huffington Post article, “Polar Bear Prison”).

First, map of Churchill, upper left on map below, the self-proclaimed “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” center of the Western Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation region (click to enlarge):

Figure 1. Map of Wapusk National Park and the Churchill region, courtesy Parks Canada.

Figure 1. Map of Wapusk National Park and the Churchill region, courtesy Parks Canada.

Keep in mind that in the latest report on Western Hudson Bay bears, Lunn and colleagues (see pg 15, PDF HERE; discussed here, and here) found no significant trend in either breakup or freeze-up dates over the period 2001-2010, using a definition of 50% ice cover1 (rather than polar bear-relevant definitions of 30% breakup/10% freeze-up determined by Seth Cherry and colleagues in 2013, discussed in detail here).

Also, the provincial government works in conjunction with the City of Churchill to manage polar bear problems in the town. According to the provincial Polar Bear Alert Program website:

“The number of polar bears captured in the program is related to weather, ice conditions in the fall and the distribution of bears along the coast. Prior to 2005, the numbers of bears caught in Churchill had been increasing, due to warmer falls or (in 1999) an early spring. The number of bears caught in Churchill has gone down since the closure of the dump in 2005.”

Note that the reference to problems due to an “early spring” (i.e. early breakup) refer to 1999, not to 1990 (the official earliest breakup date ever), discussed at the end of my last post.

OK, to the issue at hand – the problem bear reports produced by the City of Churchill. Click on the reports below to enlarge. I’ll post updates as they come in.

City of Churchill weekly reports on problem bears in Churchill

From last year, for perspective, near the end of the season, week of 27 October- 2 November 2014 (most bears were on the ice by 16 November 2014). This period happened to include Halloween, a particularly dangerous time because many people, including children, are out and about after dark (recall the polar bear attack 1 November 2013, after a Halloween party the night before, that one activist media pundit, with the support of Polar Bears International, blamed on global warming):

2014 Oct 27_Nov 3

This year, start of the season, week of 5-12 July 2015:
2015 July 5_12

This year, week of 13-19 July 2015:

2015 July 13_19

This year, week of 20-26 July 2015:

2015 July 20_26

Footnote 1: Figure 5 from the Lunn et al. 2013 report copied below, with my additional labels. Based on sea ice performance since 2010, this lack of trend has apparently continued to the present (click to enlarge):

Lunn et al 2013 breakup freeze up dates marked

Related posts:
Hudson Bay freeze-up update – most polar bears on the ice November 16, 2014

Hudson Bay freeze-up: way more ice for this day than in 2013 November 20, 2014

Hudson Bay freeze-up average this year – not late November 11 2013

Churchill problem bears and early breakup dates in WHB: The 1983 & 2004 anomalies October 15, 2014

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