Polar Bears in the News

July 28, 2011 by  
Filed under In The News

polar bear newsThere have been a lot of polar bear stories in the news lately and here is a quick round up.

Godfather of polar bear scienceEdmonton scientist Ian Stirling’s new book on polar bears wasn’t even in bookstores this summer when a venerable American wildlife magazine posted a gushing review.


The latest, Polar Bears, The Natural History of a Threatened Species, is a handsome book of articles and photographs that is a memoir, a reference book, a science book, a coffee-table book and a lament for a species that could disappear from most of its range sometime within the next half-century.

Stirling spends a lot of time and effort in Churchill and does work with Polar Bears International. PBI is offering signed copies for sale on their website. If you’re interested in Stirling’s book you can find it here.

Here’s another interesting story that is sure to have many expressing concern:

A mother polar bear swam for nine days straight to reach sea ice, covering nearly 700 kilometres and losing her cub in the process, according to a new study on the movement of female polar bears.

The study, which links shrinking sea ice as a possible threat to polar bear cubs, also noted the bear lost 22 per cent of her body weight after swimming in the Beaufort Sea.

Luckily the polar bears in Hudson Bay don’t have quite that far to go to get off the sea ice – could be the reason we see so many healthy bears around the Seal River Heritage Lodge.

The Beaufort Sea is north of Alaska & the Yukon. There seems to be a story like this every year in the news.

And while there are reports of bears swimming incredible lengths and drowning, today comes a story of a scientist who did some of those studies being investigated:

A U.S. wildlife biologist whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity of that article.

Here is a tidbit on polar bear (and grizzly and black bear) safety information:

A study published in 2008 in The Journal of Wildlife Management looked at the efficacy of bear spray as a deterrent involving grizzly, black and polar bear encounters in Alaska from 1985 to 2006.

In 72 cases where people sprayed bears to defend themselves, 98 per cent walked away uninjured.

That’s good to know if you’re ever out there alone in the woods. When we walk with polar bears at the lodges we travel in groups. Our polar bear guides – Andy & Terry – are 100% pros when it comes to keeping our guests safe.

There are other interesting bear facts and stats in that article. Make sure you give it a read if you ever plan to go hiking through the Canadian Wilderness alone (not recommended without Andy or Terry present). You DO NOT want to cause a stir like this guy:

Conservation officers in northeastern Manitoba were forced to fatally shoot a polar bear after it ran after a tourist and charged at a truck.

Laura Gray-Ellis said she was at the health centre in Churchill on Monday morning when she saw a tourist at the beach snapping photos just three metres from the bear.

That’s what happens when people do not follow the posted rules and disrespect polar bears. Just plain stupid.

There’s also a super-great, super-fantastic, super-yummy story about an Arctic cuisine/Canadian wine pairing that is happening at Seal River Heritage Lodge this weekend.

Churchill Wild, which owns and operates Canada’s premier polar bear lodges for viewing polar bears in their natural environment, has partnered with Banville & Jones Wine Co. in Winnipeg to celebrate Food Day Canada 2011 on July 30 with a wine-pairing event at their remote Seal River Heritage Lodge in Northern Manitoba, Canada.

And from the always strange (and how things have changed) files – here’s an old newspaper clipping from 1951 entitled “Crippled Polar, Four Monkeys, Bear Still Free” A circus trailer overturned and released a bunch of animals in Arkansas. Among them was a polar bear.

Notice the $200 reward if anyone can capture the polar bear alive!

Pizza Bread Variations – Jeanne’s Arctic Appetizers Week #5

Jeanne's Arctic Appetizers - Churchill Wild


Pizza Bread Sticks

Divide dough into 64 pieces. Roll each on a greased surface, using flat hands and rolling the dough into a stick with a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) diameter. Length will vary.

Makes 64 breadsticks.

Pizza Taste Teaser Sticks

Divide dough into 8 pieces. On a greased surface, shape dough into long, thin loaves 1″ (2.5 cm) in diameter. Length will vary.

Makes 8 sticks.

Pizza Bread with Cheese

Make the pizza bread recipe on the previous page into Taste Teaser Sticks.

          pizza bread

          grated mozzarella cheese

Preparation Instructions

1. Slice the Taste Teaser Sticks in 1/4″ (6 mm) slices. Place on a greased baking sheet.

2. Sprinkle mozzarella over each slice.

3. Bake at 350°F (180°C) until cheese is melted. Serve hot.


 Please let us know if you try them. We would love to know what you think.


Jeanne Reimer

Jeanne Reimer

Jeanne Reimer

This is the fifth in our series of Arctic Appetizers. We’ll post one a week so make sure to check back regularly. Why? Because we serve these at our lodges and they are really, really good!

Pizza Bread Sticks

Divide dough into 64 pieces. Roll each on a greased surface, using flat hands and rolling the dough into a stick with a 1/2″ (1.3 cm) diameter. Length will vary.

Polar Bear Capital: Report from Seal River – Birds, Bears & Belugas

by Allison Reimer

Peek-a-boo polar bear

Peek-a-Boo Polar Bear

It’s been a slower week at the Seal River Heritage Lodge because of the cool and cloudy weather but who can control that?

Thankfully the outdoor conditions haven’t deterred our adventurous polar bears, who have been plentiful for the opening week of Birds, Bears & Belugas.

We had a beautiful, big white bear wander by two days ago and last night we had a visit from a smaller bear. He sniffed around the lodge for quite some time and stood up to peer into the windows every once and a while.

Everyone was very excited – rushing from window to window as quietly as possible so as not to scare him off. Eventually he meandered off to get some rest and once the excitement died down we all followed suit.

Polar Bear Dune Buggy Camera
Polar Bear Dune Buggy Camera

Our videographer, Stuart, configured two cameras on top of what resembles a mini dune buggy in attempts to get Polar Bear footage at a closer (but safer for him) distance.

The guests are off on a new adventure today – a trip out to explore the tundra flats. We also have a group of travel agents from around the world visiting us for lunch today, courtesy of Travel Manitoba.

Thank You!

Polar Bear Lunch Special! Ginger Caribou Salad

July 21, 2011 by  
Filed under From The Lodge, Lodge Recipes

Lunch with Polar Bears

The group sits down for a spectacular lunch!

On July 20th, we hosted a group of travel agents @ Seal River Heritage Lodge and Jeanne treated them to a special lunch. On our Facebook page she wrote:

Lunch today was Ginger Caribou Salad served with Curried Wild Rice. Thanks to Travel Manitoba for bringing us some new friends and thanks to the polar bear who provided the main entertainment!

Our Facebook page is THE place to be for polar bear info, great updates and plenty of wildlife photography. Please make sure to go over to the page and “like” us. Our Birds, Bears & Belugas adventure is running right now at Seal River and updates are always being posted regularly.

Here is one of the recipes to help you recreate that spectacular lunch – you’ll need to find some friends to share it with but if you want to add a polar bear strolling by you’ll have to come up to the lodge.

Ginger Caribou Salad


Apricot Ginger Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam  (125 ml)
  • 2 tbsp  chopped fresh ginger root  (30 ml)
  • 2  large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • 2 tbsp  hoisin or soy sauce  (30 ml)

Caribou Salad:

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch  (60 ml)
  • 1 tsp Dymond Lake Seasoning OR seasoned pepper  (5 ml)
  • 1 tsp salt  (5 ml)
  • 1 tsp cumin (5 ml)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne  (2 ml)
  • 1 lb caribou, cut into strips  (500 g)   (we usually cut it off the hip)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, approximately  (60 ml)
  • 8 cups mixed salad greens (2 l)

Preparation Instructions

Ginger Caribou Salad

Ginger Caribou Salad served with Curried Wild Rice

1. In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the jam and stir in the ginger, garlic and hoisin sauce.

2. Mix the cornstarch, Dymond Lake Seasoning, salt, cumin and cayenne in a baggie or a bowl. Dredge the caribou strips in the coating.

3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and stir-fry the caribou strips, adding more oil as necessary. Fry the strips in 2 or 3 batches so that the pan is not crowded.

4. Return the strips to the pan and pour the Apricot Ginger Sauce over, stirring for 2-3 minutes to coat the strips.

5. Serve immediately over mixed greens.

Serves 4

Pizza Bread – Jeanne’s Arctic Appetizers Week #4

July 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Jeanne's Arctic Appetizers

Pizza Bread

Make Bread Sticks from this dough, or small loaves to eat with a meal. Or use it for an excellent taste teaser!

Jeanne's Arctic Appetizers - Churchill Wild



  • 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce  (375 ml)
  • 1/2 cup hot water  (125 ml)
  • 1 tbsp. sugar  (15 ml)
  • 1 tsp.  salt  (5 ml)
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil  (45 ml)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeño peppers  (60 ml)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp.  dried oregano, OR 2 tbsp. (30 ml) chopped fresh (10 ml)
  • 2 tsp.  dried basil, OR 2 tbsp. (30 ml) chopped fresh (10 ml)
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (approximately) (1.125 l)
  • 1 tbsp. instant yeast* (15 ml)
  •           butter OR margarine
  •           garlic salt

Preparation Instructions

1. In a large bowl, combine spaghetti sauce, water, sugar, salt, oil, jalapeños, garlic, oregano and basil. This mixture will have to be warmed a little if the hot water did not do the trick. Add 2 cups (500 mL) flour and the yeast*. Mix well with an electric mixer or a wire whisk.

2. Gradually add remaining flour and work into the dough either with the dough hook on your mixer or by hand. If by hand, turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and work flour into dough with a kneading motion, until dough feels soft and velvety, 8-10 minutes. You may need MORE or LESS flour.

3. Shape dough into a ball, place in a well-greased bowl, turning dough to grease the surface. Cover, put in a warm place and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

4. Punch down dough and shape as desired.

Next week we’ll give you a few variations on this recipe for bread sticks, and different ideas for serving the pizza bread.


 Please let us know if you try them. We would love to know what you think.


Jeanne Reimer

Jeanne Reimer

Jeanne Reimer

This is the fourth in our series of Arctic Appetizers. We’ll post one a week so make sure to check back regularly. Why? Because we serve these at our lodges and they are really, really good!

Would you like Red or White wine with your Polar Bear – watching?

July 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, In The News

Polar bear shops for wine at Banville & Jones Wine Co. to celebrate Food Day Canada 2011

Polar bear shopping at Banville & Jones Wine Co. in Winnipeg

Churchill Wild has partnered with Banville & Jones Wine Co. to celebrate Food Day Canada 2011 on July 30 with a wine pairing event at their remote Seal River Heritage Lodge on the coast of Hudson Bay.

“It’s an honor to partner with Churchill Wild for Food Day Canada,” said Jill Kwiatkoski, Assistant Buyer/Manager at Banville & Jones.

“They are using beautiful, clean, fresh food that pairs perfectly with the Canadian-themed wines. The wines for the event are produced by smaller Artisan style wine-producers from B.C. and Ontario, and are very eco-friendly, which fits perfectly with Churchill Wild’s philosophy. It’s an amazing menu with stunning Canadian wines.”

Churchill Wild participated in Food Day Canada 2010 and is proud to be back this year with partner Banville & Jones. Five different red and white wines will be served with a five-course meal prepared from the award-winning Canadian cookbook series Blueberries and Polar Bears.

“These are unique and exceptional Canadian wines,” said Rick Kemp, Director of Marketing & Communications for Churchill Wild.”We’re excited about partnering with Banville & Jones for Food Day Canada this year. It was a hit with guests who were with us last year for the Birds, Bears & Belugas adventure and we expect it to be even better this year with Banville & Jones and Jeanne’s new gourmet kitchen.”

New Polar Bear Viewing Observatory/Dining Room at Seal River Lodge on the Hudson Bay Coast near Churchill, Manitoba

Seal River Lodge

Churchill Wild, which owns and operates Canada’s premier remote polar bear lodges for viewing polar bears in their true environment, hauled materials over the Hudson Bay sea ice this spring to build the new kitchen at Seal River Heritage Lodge. A new dining room with huge picture windows overlooking Hudson Bay was built last year, and the new kitchen this year complements it perfectly, offering spectacular polar bear viewing – sometimes even while eating dinner!

You can keep up with Churchill Wild happenings through their Newsletter or even better, by socializing with them on Facebook. It’s a rare and special feeling to watch the world’s largest land carnivore up close and personal in their natural environment, and these great white bears will soon be included in the Species at Risk Act.

Banville & Jones Wine Co. was founded in 1999 by sisters, Lia Banville and Tina Jones. The Tuscan-inspired wine boutique features all the best elements of a world-class wine store, with over 3000 sku’s of wine, gifts and gourmet items from around the world. Banville & Jones is the largest private wine seller in Manitoba, and has been named among the top 50 wine retailers in Canada by Wine Access magazine.

New Dining Room and Kitchen at Seal River Lodge

New Dining Room and Kitchen at Seal River Lodge

Dedicated to wine education and the enjoyment of wine in an elegant and approachable atmosphere, Banville and Jones offers numerous in-store events including cooking classes, wine tastings and seminars and produces a magazine, a newsletter and a wine blog. They are also very active online. To learn more about Banville and Jones Wine Co. worldwide or in Winnipeg, please visit their Web site at: http://www.banvilleandjones.com or check them out on Facebook.

Food Day Canada is all about Canada – Canadian producers, chefs, restaurants and you, with local ingredients from backyards to fields to fresh clean northern waters. The largest food-related event in the country, Food Day Canada was founded by renowned culinary activist, educator, and writer Anita Stewart.

Now in its eleventh year, Food Day Canada honors establishments, restaurants an individuals who best exemplify the philosophy of “local, regional, seasonal” by presenting awards in several unique categories.

Churchill Polar Bear Yawning on Hudson Bay Coast near Seal River

Waiter... more wine please...

Numerous restaurants across Canada will be involved in the Food Day Canada celebration, and bronze, silver, and gold awards sponsored by leaders in the Canadian food industry will be presented for exemplary skill, creativity and conscientiousness.

For additional information about participating restaurants, partners, recipes, award-winners and more please visit the Food Day Canada Web site at www.FoodDay.ca

Two ways to stay in touch with Churchill Wild, ask us questions, get updates and more…


Beluga Whales in Churchill – 10 Things You Might Not Know

July 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Whale Watching

Swimming with Beluga Whales in Hudson Bay near Seal River

Beluga whales are friendly!

by Vanessa Desorcy

Most of the time, polar bears overshadow other arctic wildlife on our Churchill Wild adventures.  Beluga whales are another species prevalent around Churchill in the summer however, and since they’re a popular part of our Birds, Bears & Belugas adventure, we thought it might be nice to share with you a few things that we find interesting about these friendly-faced mammals.

  1. While you likely know that beluga whales are white, it’s unlikely you’re aware that the name ‘beluga’ comes from the Russian word “Belukha” which means white.
  2. Beluga whales are also known as “sea canaries” due to the unique and varied sounds they make.  On our Birds, Bears & Belugas adventure at Seal River Heritage Lodge, we offer guests a chance to snorkel with the belugas, and those who have done so can testify to the fact that humming and chirping attract these friendly creatures!
  3. Ghostly white Beluga Whales in Hudson Bay

    Ghostly White - Beluga Whales in Hudson Bay

    Baby belugas are born gray and turn white as they age.  Due to their darker color, they are thought to be more difficult to spot by predators such as polar bears and killer whales. Most belugas are completely white around the age of 13 when sexual maturity is reached.

  4. Belugas are very sociable and as such, their sense of touch is very important.  It is not unusual for belugas to come close enough to the boats and snorkelers to be touched.
  5. Beluga whales undergo a seasonal molt, unlike other cetaceans which shed continuously.  They rub against rocky river bottoms to shed their skin, which could be why they’re often found in shallow water in the summertime.
  6. Belugas, like other toothed whales, have a life expectancy of 30-40 years, nearly half that of the average life expectancy of most baleen whales.
  7. Beluga Ballet - Photo by Kike Calvo

    Beluga Ballet - Photo Credit: Kike Calvo

    In the summer, belugas are often found in warm-water estuaries and river basins, making our Lodge, located near the Seal River estuary, an ideal place to view them.

  8. The seven vertebrae in a beluga’s neck are not fused, which gives them the ability to turn their heads and even nod!
  9. The lack of a dorsal fin enables beluga whales to swim just below ice sheets to locate breathing holes.  Their lack of a dorsal fin also means less surface area, minimizing heat loss when in Arctic waters.
  10. Spot the difference:  Male belugas can be distinguished from females by the upward curve at the top of their flippers as well as by their size.  Adult males can weigh up to 1500 kg, while mature females weigh in at about 1350 kg.

Oh, and one more thing we’ve learned from guests on our Birds, Bears and Belugas adventures – swimming with Belugas is a fun!

Related Posts:

Churchill Wild Birds, Bears and Belugas trip featured in L.A. Times Travel Section
Swim with beluga whales. Conquer your fears.