No matter how many times I arrive in Churchill, whether it’s earlier in the bear season and the ground is covered in the beautiful fall colors or if the ground is frozen and snow covered, I get a chill down my spine. I love this place … the people, the scenery, the wildlife, and most importantly the polar bears. As part of the PBI Field Ambassador Program, I am one of ten women in the zoo profession who are lucky to come to Churchill and share our knowledge about polar bears with the guests aboard Tundra Buggies®.
This time of the year in Churchill is magical with the bright colors of lichens, kelp, and berries not yet covered by snow. While there aren’t too many bears in the area yet, their white bodies stand out against all the colors. So do the ptarmigan, arctic hares, and arctic fox that have already changed to their white winter coats.
The weather has been warm this week, nothing is frozen over yet. While the few bears that we are seeing look fairly healthy, they have much longer to wait without any substantial food available, until the ice freezes over.
This has led to many great conversations with the guests on the buggies about the changes that we are seeing here around Churchill in the environment and climate. The guests are concerned and want to make a change. This only empowers me more to educate those visiting Churchill and those back home that we CAN make a difference. That even though climate change and protecting polar bears sometimes can seem overwhelming, that together we can make a change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. My experiences here such as seeing a polar bear close up, meeting the local people of Churchill, and witnessing the beauty of the northern lights have changed me forever.