Every autumn (October/November), the local polar bear population travels from inland to the west shore of Hudson Bay where the town is located.
Polar bear season brings economic prosperity to Churchill where each year approximately 10,000-12,000 eco-tourists visit and contribute to the local economy.
During October and early November, Churchill’s guests can experience polar bears in action from the safety of specially modified tourism busses known as tundra buggies.
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From here they can witness thousands of polar bears waiting on the vast peninsula for the water to freeze so they can begin their hunt for their primary food source - the ringed seals.
While polar bears are typically solitary animals, the Churchill polar bears are unique in that many alliances between bears are made in the autumn. These unusual friendships are fleeting though as when the ice forms it is every bear for himself to hunt ringed seals. In warmer months, guests can travel to the coastal areas via boat to discover polar bears swimming in the sea and relaxing on land.
Sometimes there will be sociable (mostly adolescent) polar bears who persistently loiter in or close to town. Churchill locals have been taught polar bear safety so that the community and the polar bears can live in peace together with many locals leaving their cars unlocked in case someone needs to make a quick escape from the more adventurous polar bears.
Local authorities have implemented a special ‘polar bear jail’ for the more troublesome polar bears who after being tranquillised are released back into the wild when the bay freezes over.