Featured 20 Oct 1971 Image
Picture shows Polar Bears at Churchill, Northern Canada
Picture shows Polar Bears at Churchill, Northern Canada.
These bears will be targeted to be airlifted to a safer world a few hundred miles away.
Animal lovers have launched an incredible airlift in Canada, to fly 35 doomed wild Polar Bears to safety. They were told they were crazy and that it couldn't be done, but now it seems they might win. For the first bear, nicknamed Oscar, 3 years old and weighing 350 pounds, has now been flown out to Kaskatama, 300 miles away.
The shooting of Oscar and 34 other young bears was ordered by officials of the prairie province of Manitoba. The provincial government say the bears are a danger to the 2, 500 people of Churchill, Hudson Bar, Northern Canada. Many of the 700 bears of Manitoba pass Churchill, a tiny port on the edge of the Hudson Bay, every autumn and winter on the way from their summer dens. They wait for the bay to freeze so they can hunt seals, and sometimes they walk through Churchill and scare the locals. Indeed, an Eskimo boy has been killed, and another boy mauled.
However, the death sentences have caused heartbreak throughout animal lovers, as the Polar Bear is an endangered species with only 12, 000 left (1971 figure). And so, bearded Brian Davies, a 36 year old Welshman who is director of The International Fund For Animal Welfare and who has lived in Canada for 15 years, is appealing for donations to create Operation Bearlift. The IFAW has been given 6 weeks by the Canadians, to catch the bears and airlift them to safety. They have released a slogan, "Buy a Share in a Polar Bear" It's aim is to raise 10, 000 pounds.
Dick Robertson, the area wildlife manager, said Oscar the bear was a problem and will have to go.
With the charity, they caught him by trapping a front leg in a wire snare baited with oil and then a tranquilliser dart was fired into his massive neck, by assistant Dale Cross.
Oscar was weighed, tagged, given a check up and loaded into a ten foot cylindrical cage. He was then flown in an elderly Dakota DC3 aircraft over 300 miles to the Kaskatama airstrip, in the middle of nowhere. The cage was brought to the door, the trap was opened, and after 5 long minutes, he slithered down the ramp and up the runway. If the bear decided to walk back to Churchill, it would take over a week.
Brian Davies and the IFAW are hoping the other 34 doomed bears will also rescued and airlifted to safety.
Picture taken 20th October 1971