Arviat faces annual polar bear invasion

People who patrol for polar bears in Arviat, Nunavut, say there are more bears this fall.
A polar bear mother and her two cubs walk along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man., in 2007. People who patrol for polar bears in Arviat, Nunavut, say there are more bears this year. (Canadian Press)

People who patrol for polar bears in Arviat, Nunavut, say there are more bears this year.

Polar bears congregate on the shore of western Hudson Bay in the fall, waiting for the sea ice to form. Arviat is about 300 kilometres north of Churchill, Man., which has a live webcam this year of the polar bears

Leo Ikakhik, who is on night patrol, says on average last year between mid-October and early December he spotted seven or eight bears every day. Ikakhik says this year there appears to be more.

"Sometimes they migrate closer to town. I think they are even earlier than last year and it seems they are all over the place too."

Conservation Officers with the Department of Environment patrol during the day. The community is trying different ways of keeping the bears at bay, such as putting up electric fences. But Ikakhik says the bears seem to find ways to get around those, too.

"The same bear, if he really wants something past the electric fence, they're going to keep trying and they learn how to stop the voltage," he said. "They can just put their front paw and press one cable and make contact with another one and kill the whole system, and they can just go right it." 

This year the community has received 10 tags because of all the bears coming near the community. The tags come out of a total of 24 tags for all of western Hudson Bay​.

Defence kills are subtracted from the quota. The allowable harvest for the Kivalliq region was reduced because of concerns the population might have gone down.

So far this year, there have been no defence kills in the community.