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This article was published 7/12/2009 (4168 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
New upgrades to Churchill’s holding compound for wayward polar bears will allow it to hold up 60 animals, the province said Monday.
Work has already started with $105,000 in provincial funding, Conservation Minister Bill Blaikie said today.
The facility holds nuisance bears until they can be safely transported out of town or until ice forms on Hudson Bay, said Blaikie.
The province spent $130,000 in 2005 to fix its roof and strengthen its walls. In 2006, $225,000 was spent adding new holding cells and installing a cooling system for bears held in warmer weather. The electrical system was also upgraded in 2008 with funding of $80,000. The next phase will strengthen end walls and the main entrance.
Manitoba’s Polar Bear Alert Program has recorded almost 300 incidents this season in the Churchill area. Almost 60 bears have been captured and held in the compound. Bears continue to linger in the area because the water on Hudson Bay has failed to freeze as early as it historically does.
Bears that refuse to stay away from inhabited areas are placed in the compound. Once ice has formed on the bay, the bears are released to hunt seals, their main source of food, and they remain on the ice flows until about July.
The holding compound, an old army Quonset-type warehouse located about eight kilometres east of Churchill, was taken over by the province in 1979 after Fort Churchill closed. The first cells were built in 1980 and first used in the 1981 season.
The province also recently announced $31 million in funding to support the development of international polar bear conservation at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo as part of a wider project to add more attractions to the park.