Daily News

Polar Bears Prefer Dining At The Dump

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dennis Ambler






More on that story of polar bears and rubbish dumps.



First a look at the temperature trends on Novaya Zemlya:





According to GISS, there is little trend, and temperatures were just as high in the 1930s and 40s, and even the early 1900s, when there were plenty of polar bears but no internet.


The attraction of rubbish dumps for polar bears is hardly new. The New York Times reported exactly the same happening in Churchill, Manitoba in 1971:


OTTAWA, Nov. 20—Last month, 24 polar bears were flown out of the town of Churchill, Manitoba, at a cost of about $400 each in a much publicized rescue operation.

Two of the bears were back in town this week and, according to officials in Ottawa, it is only a matter of time before the others follow.

The airlift, carried out with an old DC‐3 plane equipped with two cages, was organized and financed by Brian Davies, executive director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Mr. Davies is a 36‐year‐old conservationist of Fredericton, New Brunswick, who fellow conservationists may remember for his crusades to save the baby seals from the annual spring slaughters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

In an effort to rescue the Churchill polar bears, Mr. Davies in recent weeks raised $5,000 to start the airlift. His fund‐raising activities were so well publicized that his arrival in Churchill three weeks ago was attended by reporters from all over Canada, from London, Bonn and Paris, and by a television team from Chicago.After the airlift, what astonished Jack Howard, acting chief of the wildlife operations for the Manitoba government, was the speed and stamina displayed by the re turning animals.

“It may be only 150 miles by air,” he said, “But it’s more than 300 miles the way the polar bears travel,”

The 24 bears were flown to an isolated point on Hudson Bay east of Churchill where it was felt they might go about their winter seal hunting unmolested. The two animals made it back in about 15 days, which means they averaged 20 miles a day. Since polar bears in normal migration cover no more than five miles a day, wildlife men speculate that the rewards of the Churchill garbage dump may have stimulated the bears’ natural homing instinct.

The garbage dumps at Churchill and nearby Fort Churchill, a military installation, have become happy hunting grounds for the Arctic bears. Townsmen, bothered by the bears wandering their streets, had felt it better, easier and cheaper to move the animals than the dumps.

A. G. Loughrey, deputy di rector of the Canadian Wild life Service in Ottawa, told a reporter that globally the polar bear is in some danger of extinction. But this doesn’t seem to be the case in the Churchill area. On a recent flight around Churchill, a port city on Hudson Bay, 1,200 miles north of Ottawa, Mr. Howard spotted 50 to 60 of the animals in one area, and 160 near Cape Churchill.



Bear (sorry for the pun!) in mind that this report was filed in November, by when polar bears would normally be out on the ice.

The attractions of ready meals down at the dump were so great, that the bears were happy to walk 300 miles back to town.


And Churchill’s relationship with polar bears goes back much further:

People and polar bears have encountered each other in the Churchill region as long as they’ve both occupied the area, a time span extending at least four thousand years into the past, but the story of the town’s modern day relationship with bears begins in the 1940s when, in 1942, the United States established a military base in Churchill, initially bringing nearly three thousand officers and enlisted men. At first, polar bears weren’t much of an issue around the base. However, bears soon learned to scavenge food at open dumps and trash pits.

For bears, garbage is an especially attractive source of food. Bears don’t have to work hard to find it, people never stop producing it, and it’s high in calories. During the middle of the twentieth century, many of Churchill’s bears became increasingly attracted to trash and bears were frequently seen scavenging for food at the town dump. Mothers taught their cubs to feed on garbage, extending the bears’ reliance on it across generations. It’s also easy for bears to recognize that people are the source of the larder — if food can be found at a dump then it can be found near people’s homes as well.



But telling the truth does not always sell newspapers, or help get research grants.



February 15, 2019 at 12:30PM


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