Living and travelling in "The Polar Bear Capital of the World"

Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site

PDF document: Safety in polar bear country (PDF, 330 KB)


When visiting Churchill, you should be aware that a polar bear may be encountered anywhere at any time of the year.

Seasonal migrations

Polar bears come ashore in mid-to-late July when the ice on Hudson Bay melts. The risk of encountering a polar bear increases from July to freeze-up. The highest risk of bear encounters is during October and November, which corresponds with the busiest time of the tourist season. The bears return to the ice to hunt seals in late November to early December when ice forms on the bay. The lowest risk of an encounter is from December to July, but there is still always a chance of encountering a bear. Whether you live and work in Churchill, or are just visiting, you should be aware of the risks of encountering a polar bear.

Community conservation

Polar bear Polar bear
© Parks Canada

The Town of Churchill, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, and Parks Canada work together to maintain a high level of safety around polar bears. When seasonal workers, local businesses, visitors and residents contribute to polar bear awareness, the safety net is more effective. The Churchill region is unique and prospering because of its easily accessible polar bear viewing opportunities and the considerable role citizens play in conserving polar bears. The risk of dangerous polar bear encounters can be reduced significantly if everyone plays a part to help raise awareness.

If you wish to explore the shoreline or venture away from town, it is recommended that you do so with a local tourism agency or guide. Your guide has knowledge, experience and skills to keep you safe. If a polar bear becomes curious and approaches your group, guides have experience, specialized training, vehicles and equipment that can provide a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience. Hiring a guide is the easiest way to travel independently in the Churchill area. Respect your guide’s decisions and follow their instructions. It is his/her responsibility to choose actions that help protect you and the bears.

Please contact Parks Canada or the Churchill Chamber of Commerce at their respective visitor centres to find more information on the current visitor opportunities in the area.

Workplace safety
Acquire training and more information on bear safety from your employer. Your employer can assist you with determining the safest way for you to get to and from work. Discuss any preventative measures your company takes to avoid encounters and what do in the case of emergencies while at work.

Are you a new or seasonal resident?
Get to know your neighbours. Local people have knowledge about polar bears and how to deal with them. Ask them about their experiences – how they avoid encountering a polar bear and about plans of action should you encounter a bear. Polar bears can be encountered in town, where there are many more places for bears to hide. Keep in mind that every encounter is different.

« Handling an encounter | Polar Bear Alert Program »

For more information:

Location: Parks Canada
Box 127
Churchill, MB R0B 0E0
Phone number: 204-675-8863
Email address: manitoba@pc.gc.ca

Location: Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship
Box 70
Churchill, MB R0B 0E0
Phone number: 204-675-8897
Email address: mgi@gov.mb.ca
Website: https://www.gov.mb.ca/fish-wildlife/polar_bears/index.html 

Location: Town of Churchill
Box 459
Churchill, MB R0B 0E0
Phone number: 204-675-8871
Email address: townofchurchill@churchill.ca

Location: Chamber of Commerce
Box 271
Churchill, MB R0B 0E0
Phone number: 204-675-2022
Email address: churchillchamber@mts.net

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