Over recent years, the ice-free period on the bay has lengthened, causing some hungry bears to wander into town to find food. Churchill had to rely on people spotting polar bears with the naked eye — which is difficult to do with a white animal in snowy surroundings. The seasonal need for wildlife officer patrols and intervention was becoming increasingly costly for the town.
City managers and conservationists alike sought a way to use technology to safely manage the situation. With experience from working on a similar bear issue in Anchorage in 2014, Alaska-based NMS Security was ready to help.
- Milestone XProtect® video management software (VMS), XProtect Mobile
- Two SpotterRF radar units
- Canon VB-R10VE vandal-resistant, outdoor PTZ dome camera
- Dell server
NMS Security worked with SpotterRF and Milestone Systems to develop an integration for the XProtect VMS, allowing the radar system to be controlled through the video interface.
The technology has the potential to provide a new level of safety in Churchill, and the team has no doubt that there is great potential for replicating this system into more polar bear impacted communities, as well as in other environments where humans and wildlife can come in conflict. Wild elephants, hippos and other non-predator species, for example, often raid and destroy crops, threatening humans and provoking a lethal response.
This project was seen as a promising tool to help ensure long-term wildlife population sustainability, particularly in communities that are being left vulnerable in the face of climate change.
Polar Bears International (PBI) is the only conservation group with a sole focus on polar bears. PBI has been working with the town of Churchill for many years: observing, monitoring, tracking and performing valuable field research with this unique polar bear population.