As they wait for the water to freeze and the ice to form in the Hudson Bay, more than 1,000 polar bears take up residence in the small town of Churchill in Canada's Manitoba province every year. This is the closest many humans may ever come to these Arctic predators, and Churchill takes advantage of this annual polar migration by giving tours and branding itself as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World."
If you're not able to get to Churchill, don't worry. Smithsonian Channel has you covered with the second season of "Polar Bear Town," a three-episode docu-series on how the human locals and the polar bears get along — or don't.
Premiering Nov. 22, "Polar Bear Town" kicks off with a surprise for Churchill: The polar bears have arrived a little earlier than they have in the past. It could be a more-lucrative-than-usual tourist season for the local guides, but it also offers a few dangers — including tourists who want to get a little too close to the bears, and bears who want to get a little too close to the humans.
The clip above comes from the season's second episode, airing Nov. 29. Prior to research done at and around Churchill, polar bears were believed to be solitary animals. However, as this clip demonstrates, there can be a fair bit of socializing and alliance-forming among the bears during the "off-season." Even if it does look brutal, the play-fighting provides the bears with socialization and companionship. Of course, once they leave Churchill, it's every bear for itself during the hunt for seals.
The rest of the second episode deals with the search for a polar bear following a tragedy. But the search may be more than a few locals can handle when they end up in an isolated cabin during a storm.
The season concludes Dec. 6 as Churchill locals and polar bears alike prepare for the onset of fall. This is the last time for locals and conservationists to observe the bears as well as the beluga whales that also migrate to the area. Of course, this is also the perfect time for a wedding, and that's exactly what a local couple has in mind, and they want the polar bears and the belugas involved, too.
Check your cable provider's listings to see if you get Smithsonian Channel and when "Polar Bear Town" airs in your area.