This was my last day in Churchill and my second day viewing bears on the tundra buggy. This was the very end of the season, and the sea was frozen, so a fraction of the bears from a week or two earlier remained on land. This means that providing there isn't an early thaw, the bears will have longer to hunt for seal than they otherwise would have had. I hope though that this yearly variation in weather doesn't distract from the inescapable evidence that the climate in the Arctic is warming at an unprecedented rate, putting southerly populations of polar bears such as this in early danger.
These polar bear pictures were taken from a tundra buggy. This method of bear viewing is controversial owing to the risk of damage to the tundra, risk of bear habituation, and use of fossil fuels to power the vehicles. Whilst the driver I used behaved in a responsible manner, there is an urgent need for more rigorous enforcement of regulations to ensure greater consistency. Ultimately, I would prefer an economy based on strictly regulated tourism rather than one dependent on hunting. However, nothing should be allowed to distract from the inescapable fact that by far the greatest threat facing polar bears is habitat loss through global warming. If viewing bears (or looking at pictures of bears) increases awareness of the urgency of climate change, there is a greater hope for the preservation of these highly specialised creatures.