Field notes from Arviat: Bears at the dump
For the fourth year, WWF is proud to support successful efforts to keep people and bears safe in the Hamlet of Arviat, Nunavut. That means hiring Leo Ikakhik, an experienced local, to act as polar bear monitor, patrolling the streets of the community all night during peak polar bear season, from mid-September through mid-December. With less Arctic sea ice habitat available, more bears are entering communities, posing a threat to everyone’s safety. Leo sees what few Canadians get to see, and we’re proud to share his experiences from 2013, captured in his nightly field notes.
Appendix A: WWF-Arviat Polar Bear-Human Conflict Reduction Project
Field Notes by Leo Ikakhik (Polar Bear Monitor)
(Transcribed by Keith Collier)
Oct. 3, 2013. Only one polar bear sighted at the dump site, a healthy male bear. I just left him alone. Some nights it’s quiet but other nights seems like they are all over the place. So it was one of those nights where they were hard to find. “Shutout.” I think every bear took a night off. Oh well, I guess that’s OK. Sometimes things need a little break.
Oct. 4, 2013. 7:36 am - 3 polar bears near the dump, the first one was right at the dump, the other two were still in the water. The three started swimming south to an island. I kept going back to the area where I saw them last. They did not return the rest of that day.
Oct. 6, 2013. 3:13am - Rainy night. One bear at the dump. As soon as I shine the spotlight, the bear headed south. I know it didn’t go very far, but I did not bother going after it. Healthy female bear.
Oct. 7, 2013. 7:40am - Only one polar bear spotted at the dump site. Healthy female bear. The weather was misty all night long, calm winds.
Oct. 9, 2013. One bear at the dump, pretty dirty, small bear, looks pretty healthy. It’s pretty shy, can’t even get close to take a picture.
Oct. 10, 2013. 2:46am - One bear spotted at the dump eating garbage. Big male bear, looks healthy too. Weather cloudy, windy, and misty at times. Two more bears spotted at the old airstrip at the east end eating whale carcass. After a couple of cracker shells they jumped in the water and swam across the inlet. Just before midnight, two bears at the dump. When the bears are at the dump I don’t bother them as long as they stay in that area. Two more bears at the old airstrip at the east end on the north shore eating whale carcass. When I shined the spotlight at them they jumped in the water and swam across the inlet.