Below is an excerpt from a story which originally appeared in the July 28, 2010 issue of The Dallas Morning News. It was written by Glen Petrie, a freelance writer from Canada.
Guests mingle with polar bears at Seal River Heritage Lodge in Canada
CHURCHILL, Manitoba – I see my first polar bear from a distance of 300 feet – straight down. Close-up views of polar bears in the wild are common at the Seal River Heritage Lodge in Churchill, Manitoba.
We’re flying so low that every willow branch on the marshy shores of Hudson Bay is clearly visible, and Nelson the pilot is excitedly pointing. “There!”
He rolls the turbo Beaver into a sudden 30-degree bank and the sky is replaced by a blur of passing bush. Strapped into the co-pilot’s seat, I struggle against gravity to follow his jabbing finger. We’re spiraling to earth; I search for the bear but my eyes keep darting back to the altimeter. In the back, I glimpse ashen passengers with their arms braced against the fuselage.
The bear zips past – a ball of white like arctic cotton grass – and is gone. Nelson changes course, and my stomach pulls in the opposite direction, the horizon rolling to a crazy new angle. Nelson is pointing past my nose. “There, there! See him?” The bear looks up.
This kind of impromptu sightseeing goes on for the entire 30-minute flight from Churchill, serving up six polar bears and two moose, until a lonely wooden lodge appears on the rocky shore. There are two buildings, one with solar panels. There is a scar that turns out to be a dirt airstrip.
Seal River Heritage Lodge is a fly-in outpost amid one of the world’s major polar bear populations, run by husband- and-wife team Mike and Jeanne Reimer as part of their tour company, Churchill Wild. Unlike the well-known tundra tours on the outskirts of town that use supersize buses on giant wheels, in which even sticking your arm outside is forbidden, Seal River gives animal lovers the chance to walk among wild polar bears in their native habitat.
But there are rules… Read the full story at The Dallas Morning News