The small Canadian town of Churchill, Manitoba is known as the polar bear capital of the world, and for good reason. The area is home to both 900 or so year-round human residents and the western Hudson Bay polar bear population, and sometimes, inevitably, the twain shall meet.
Interactions between Churchillians and polar bears used to be quite frequent, and rarely ended well for the bears, which were all too often shot on sight. Over the last three decades or so, that has changed: the town dump, which used to attract bears into town, has been closed, and the guns that are fired in the direction of polar bears these days fire only firecracker shells â€” explosive ordinance which creates a loud â€˜bangâ€™ and ideally scares the bears away.
In 1982, the Manitoba Department of Conservation established the Polar Bear Alert Program, with a dedicated number for residents to report bear sightings. There is also a holding facility, more popularly known as the â€œPolar Bear Jail,â€ in which the more persistent intruders are held for 30 days before being flown out onto the sea ice far from town.