From Nov. 2 until Nov. 8 is polar bear week in Churchill. Alysa McCall, field manager for Polar Bears International (PBI) says they chose this week to promote the bears. “Bear season runs for many weeks, and every week is super exciting. Part of polar Bears International’s message is ‘what we can do for polar bears.’ So this week is the one week we chose to really push that message.” McCall says there are a lot of things residents around the world can do to help. These things include not idling your cars, turning off your lights, recycling and just creating a better natural world to let polar bears live in.
A petition has also started which will be taken to the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru next month. The petition is asking for the creation of a greenhouse gas reduction plan and can be found on the Polar Bears International Facebook page. So far they have more than 13,000 signatures.
McCall says it’s about promoting the earth. “Up here in Churchill, it’s very dear to us this area, they’ve already had a lot of changes here over the last 34 years and we really care about the ecosystem as a whole. Using polar bears and saving them helps preserve everything.”
This fall PBI has been working with explore.org and Frontiers North Adventures in Churchill. Explore.org has set up live cameras on the tundra buggies. “We have live cameras on the tundra buggy lodge and Buggy One, which Frontiers North donated to PBI to bring up scientists and let them roam around on them. We’re constantly streaming this polar bear action and watching what is going on. Part of my job is to blog about what is going on, and what we see. We’re really reaching out to people by blogging, tweeting, Instagram, and live chats.”
A lot of scientists are currently in Churchill studying the bears. “One group is doing a pilot program on whether taking pictures of polar bears can gauge body condition over time, and we also have a pilot program happening with a drone. We’re trying to see if this drone is taking pictures of polar bears on a white background, how we can pick out what is actually a bear?” Other groups are in the north for outreach programs too, says McCall. “Mostly all the scientists here right now are here for outreach programs. PBI brings them up for usually a week at a time, and we take them on Buggy One. We connect them with classrooms, zoos, and the public and we get them to talk about polar bears and their experiences with them.”
Currently McCall says most of the bears are lazy, and just waiting for the sea ice to come in so they can go out and find a meal. “Once that sea ice comes in we will not see any polar bears around here. They will all be out walking, looking for food, which mostly consists of seals. In the spring the males will look for mates, but basically they’re just out looking for their next meal, and it’s not easy finding seals out there.”
People interested in helping save the polar bears and the sea ice are being asked to create a video on the importance of the two and upload the films to social media. The videos can also include what you are doing to help. To catch the attention of explore.org, Frontiers North Adventures, and Polar Bears International use the hashtag #SaveOurSeaIce.