Polar Bears In Churchill

Every fall the polar bears move in close to the town of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada waiting for the ice to form on Hudson Bay.  With the planet warming, the bay is freezing later and melting earlier each year.  That means the bears have less time for hunting and fattening up to survive the summer.  For the females, lower body weight also means fewer cubs.  But Churchill is still a great place to observe the bears up close.

This is a video of my most recent trip to Churchill where the young males were putting on quite a show doing what young males of many species do, sparring to establish a pecking order.  Later when they are out on the ice this fighting will turn serious.  That’s when the prize for the winner will be women and food.

Football on Ice

game day for the bears

Game day in Chicago.  This was one of the Bears on the field before the game in Chicago today against the Patriots.  It was heavy snow and big winds covering everything in snow and ice.  If it looks like this particular bear was asleep on the sidelines, I would have to say based on the final score the whole team was in hibernation before and during the game.

The Radio Show for 12-11-10

Highlight Sheet

Episode 437 (Week 1050)

Air Date Dec. 11, 2010

This week on National Geographic Weekend, host Boyd Matson speaks with guests about cave diving in Mexico, finding the warrior gene, what’s killing hibernating bats, saving lions by building fences in Africa, egg-eating polar bears, the 50th anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, wrestling alligators in Florida, what makes the Milky Way galaxy special, launching a homemade balloon into the stratosphere and braving leeches in Borneo to see orangutans.

Hour 1

  • Explorer and National Geographic Waitt grantee Sam Meacham regularly goes underground to explore some of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. Meacham joins Boyd in the studio to talk about his work far beneath the jungles of the Yucatán Peninsula.  (Seeslideshow)
  • Are some people just born to rage? That is the question ex-punk rocker-turned commentator Henry Rollins is trying to answer on the new National Geographic Television “Explorer” episode “Born to Rage,” airing Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 10 p.m. Rollins joins Boyd to talk about his search for the warrior gene that shows up in 30 percent of the male population and can be a factor in violent behavior. (See preview)
  • Bats, while creepy, are crucial to controlling insect populations and are important pollinators for commercial agriculture. Now, a previously unknown disease is causing massive die-offs in the bat population. Author David Quammen joins Boyd to talk about his article “Bat Crash” in the December National Geographic magazine. (Read article)
  • Good fences make good neighbors. National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld has taken this saying to heart. Lichtenfeld is working to save lions in Tanzania by helping people protect their cattle with better fences. She joins Boyd to talk about her work. (Read more)
  • Join National Geographic’s daily online news editor David Braun as he shares some of the week’s hottest stories. Braun explains why bats fly better with their eyes closed. (NG News)

Hour 2

  • The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which encompasses nearly 20 million acres of wilderness along Alaska’s North Slope, is 50 years old this week. Tom Campion chairs the board of the Alaska Wilderness League and is fighting to prevent drilling in the refuge. Campion joins Boyd in the studio to talk about why it’s vital to protect this region. (Read more)
  • The Billie Swamp Safari offers visitors face-to-face encounters with ostriches, American bison, wild alligators, venomous snakes, and many other swamp animals. As the park’s director, Ed Woods and his team of swamp men are responsible for working with these animals. It can be a tricky job, and much of it is captured in the second season of “Swamp Men,” airing Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. on the National Geographic Wild channel. Woods joins Boyd to talk about the show. (See preview)
  • The Milky Way, home to planet earth, is something to be proud of, says Ken Croswell, author of the December National Geographic magazine article “ Star Struck.” Croswell joins Boyd to talk about our sun, the black hole at the middle of our galaxy and why we live in a pretty special place. (Read the article)
  • Colin Rich is a cinematographer looking for a new perspective. That’s why he regularly launches his own weather balloons with payloads of point and shoot cameras to capture remarkable images of the earth from space. Rich joins Boyd to talk about his balloons and the adventures of recovering them after each flight. (See video)
  • In his regular Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares a story about suffering blood-sucking leeches in order to visit with orangutans in Borneo.