Polar bears are considered a vulnerable species. Courtesy: Explore.org
It's about time for the polar bear migration in Churchill, Manitoba, and this year you can get a glimpse of the bears as they wait for the bay to freeze.
Conservation groups Explore.org, Polar Bears International, Frontiers North and Parks Canada have teamed up to offer a live webcam of the polar bears in the area.
Charles Annenberg Weingarten, Explore.org's founder, told the Weather Network Saturday he hopes the live feeds will give people a chance to get to know the bears, and spur them to do something to help preserve them and their habitat.
"These cameras allow for long-term relationships with nature that peole just don't have the privilege to have anymore," he says. "When you fall in love with something, you want to protect it. It's just natural instinct. And that's just my hope, that by falling in love with these divine creatures, you're going to want to take better care of them."
He added the feeds give people a raw, uninterrupted view of the animals. People can watch either for fun, or with a view to learning more about them.
Staff say 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST are the best times to view the animals, which are monitored by a live camera on a "Tundra Buggy," which shadows the bears through the day.
Churchill is known as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World," and for good reason: Up to a thousand of the bears congregate in the area as they wait for the ice on Hudson Bay to freeze enough for them to venture out and hunt.
Polar bears are listed as a "Vulnerable" species, and there are between 20,000 and 25,000 left in the wild, a number conservationists say is declining.
Explore.org and its partners hope by raising awareness of the bears, they can draw attention to their plight and spur efforts to preserve their habitat.
The groups say the freeze-up on the bay has been coming later and later as the years pass, threatening the bears' ability to hunt for prey.
Polar Bear International's blog reported Friday temperatures near Churchill plunged down to -20C, with some parts of the nearby bay freezing two weeks earlier than in recent years.
The live cams began earlier in November, and will run until around the end of the month.