Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 16, 2014 - 6:54 am

Nunavut hamlet issues rare summer polar bear warning

"We’re not used to seeing them in town this time of year"

This gaunt polar bear wandered into Arviat's landfill July 13 looking for something to eat. (PHOTO  BY PAUL ANINGAT)
This gaunt polar bear wandered into Arviat's landfill July 13 looking for something to eat. (PHOTO BY PAUL ANINGAT)

The Hamlet of Arviat has issued a warning asking residents to be aware of polar bears walking in and around the Hudson Bay community of about 2,300 people.

Wildlife officers have been put on call 24 hours a day after two bears wandered into town July 13.

And because of the summer holidays, the hamlet is asking parents to make sure they know where their children are at all times, to ensure their safety.

“We’ve seen an increase in bear activity this summer,” said the hamlet’s senior administrative officer, Steve England. “People are used to seeing bears in the fall, but not so much in the summer time.”

As Nunavut’s southernmost community along the western Hudson Bay, Arviat is a frequent stop for polar bears as they migrate north during the fall months.

While there have been few injuries and little damage caused by the bears, the community has tried to avoid having to kill them in self-defence.

The hamlet has for the last few years hired a polar bear monitor, who works a midnight shift during the fall months to protect the community from nuisance bears, who are generally looking for something to eat.

While there were seven defence kills of polar bears in Arviat in 2010, there were only three the following year when the position was created. And there haven’t been any nuisance polar bears killed in Arviat since.

But summer bears are much less common.

“It’s somewhat normal to see bears on the south side of the community en route to Churchill (Manitoba),” England said. “But we’re not used to seeing them in town this time of year, especially with the number of kids playing outside.”

England said the hamlet employs a night watchman during the summer, so that person, along with bylaw and wildlife officers, has been on the alert for any bear sightings.

England said that, so far, there have been no reports of injuries or damages due to bears, who tend to spend their time in the local landfill.

“We haven’t seen any since Sunday, so hopefully that’s the last of them,” he added.

Any residents who spot bears near the community are asked to the local wildlife office at 857-6944.

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(15) Comments:

#1. Posted by Brian Gibbons on July 16, 2014

Last night the polar bear charged 3 young boys just fetes away from their residence. If the bear is not relocated further away, it will keep going back to town in search of food. Before someone gets injured, the bear should just be put down. 1 less tag is better than someone getting injured or loosing someone.

#2. Posted by going to burn on July 16, 2014

besides the polar bear issue just look at the background…plywood, paper product, metal all piled up over 15 feet high.  this is another dump fire in the making.

All communities must start a separation project for larger materials - metals, old cars, barrels, ATV frames and wood products. Every year sealift adds to the pile with plywood, lumber crating. All of this can be separated from regular house hold garbage…no thoughts of how to reuse anything just take it to the dump…then people can scrimmage through the pile…northern’s canadian tire.

#3. Posted by Common Sense on July 16, 2014

#1 How about keeping tabs on your kids, and when there is a public warning out, keep your children INSIDE at night.

If parents would step up to the plate, and do some parenting the bear would not need to be put down.

Simple enough?

#4. Posted by JP on July 16, 2014

#2, they set the dump on controlled burn over the last 2 days;
#3, have you even ever seen a Polar Bear? Each one has its own personality, character. They are hunters foremost, they could and will hunt humans. Simple enough? they are not simple.

#5. Posted by Common Sense on July 16, 2014

#4 Of course I have seen a polar bear!  They will hunt humans, sure enough.  But not when the humans are smart enough to be inside when there is a public warning issued.

Simple enough?

Exactly why do you think the public warning was issued in Arviat?  To tell parents that for the safety of their children to keep them supervised and INSIDE.

But interesting, your comment.  Are you suggesting that we simply let the children play outside at night, regardless of the public safety warning because that is the nature of the polar bear, to hunt?  Yeah, that makes sense.

#6. Posted by Content Eskimo on July 16, 2014

# 3, during the summer months children roam the community and area -playing, hunting birds, bike around, play ball, pick flowers, take their toy boats to the streams and lakes just as any child would in the south or any community in the North.  Convincing, when convincing is needed, the children to do these types of activities is part of parenting, a very important skill set I must add.  It should be the Hamlet of Arviat’s position to ensure safety so the children can to do such activities freely.  I agree with Mr. Gibbons, the government and the Hamlet of Arviat should be motivated to take some action to ensure the safety of children in the community of Arviat.  Children of Arviat have every right to enjoy the summer months with out fear of polar bears attacking them.

#7. Posted by Polar Bear Protesting For Dump Action on July 16, 2014

The garbage issue thanks to polar bears are putting it back in the face of CG&S ministers and deputy ministers that they can’t continue to act like Alfred E. Newman from Mad magazine saying “What Me Worry” any longer.

Fancy pancy Iqaluit Airport is no excuse to do nothing about Nunavut dumps. If I recall Gov of NU said they did the airport the way they did so they can have money to look after Nunavut.

Nunavut Gov. CG&S must find solutions and pay for the dump/sewage solutions today.  Estimated at $300 million. Looking the other way and being Afred E. Newman is no longer an acceptable excuse.

Hamlets for over a decade have been telling Nu Gov. about the dump/sewage issue. 

Today Polar Bears are saying “it’s time to take action or we will come into your Hamlets, in protest for DUMP action.”

Polar Bears also say “if Con Harper and Leona list us ‘Enemy of the State, because we (polarbears) care and are looking out for environment they are wrong.”

#8. Posted by Common Sense on July 16, 2014

#6 OK, you go ahead and ignore the public safety warnings.  I will heed the warnings and keep my children safe and inside.  Perhaps you will find comfort in blaming the hamlet and the government when a polar bear hurts someone who chose to ignore the safety warning.

#9. Posted by Action was taken on July 16, 2014

hummmm…seems to me #6 that the hamlet and GN did do something, they issued a public safety announcement and put on bear patrol.  What else would you like them to do to ensure that your kids can frolic about outside on summer nights?

Why take the chance on a bear attack?  Keep the youngsters inside until the bear moves on.

#10. Posted by Content Eskimo on July 16, 2014

Aah #9, a facebook announcement is not an ‘public announcement’, “one” bear patrol who is call, not patrolling, but activated when bear arrives into town is not ‘bear patrol’ but an accident waiting to happen when you have more than 50 children at minimum enjoying the summer at any given evening.  An adequate announcement would require more than a facebook posting.  An adequate bear patrol, one would think, at the very least -two or three persons patrolling evenings into morning hrs., sections of community continuously .  And, for clarity, children play to their amusement they do not frolic as would drunken adults.  Children are a youthful blessings not an annoyance as you seem to suggest.

#11. Posted by Action was taken on July 16, 2014

#10 Look up “frolic” in any dictionary please, clearly you need to.  I am not sure why you associate drunks with this word.  Nobody said anything about any annoyance, just keep the young ones inside until the bear moves on.

Why is that so difficult and why does it anger you so?

#12. Posted by Rebecca Mike on July 17, 2014

It says to know where your children are at all time. There are lot of parents working during the day. Bears don’t wander into the community only at nights. When we have to leave our home we are having to make sure there aren’t bears around as the bears can swim into the community without being detected. We can’t be confined indoors just because there might be bears around. Especially when we have beautiful warm days the children play outside biking, or go down the shoreline to cool off or just play at the playgrounds. Why is it people who comment on this seems to know more than we do who live here in Arviat?

#13. Posted by Content Eskimo on July 17, 2014

No worries # 12, it’s a natural state of mind for the white folk.  It is seen, felt and played out daily around the world, not just in Nunavut.  Even as incorrect the approach is with the polar bear issue the administration is correct.  Its called a superiority complex, a defense mechanism that cannot allow….need I say more.

#14. Posted by Because on July 17, 2014

” Why is it people who comment on this seems to know more than we do who live here in Arviat?”

I can answer that.

Because it makes much more sense to any reasonable thinking person to tell your children that there is a bear around town, and today they cannot play outside rather than allow them to play outside unsupervised and possibly be attacked by the bear.  The risk is too high.

However, if you feel the need to allow your children to play outside unsupervised and are willing to take the chance on their lives, so be it.  You know best, right?

#15. Posted by Andrea on July 17, 2014

I agree with you #12. People who are not living in Arviat Nunavut, they do not know what is exactly going on but only through the NEWS about Polar Bears in or around town! They would find out if they live in Arviat for the whole year or so! :D

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