Q: So, please tell us who you are and what you’re doing here.

A: My name is Dylan Burton and I am a local Churchillian resident.

How many generations of your family has lived here in Churchill?

Since my great-granny, we’ve lived here.

Talk about growing up in Churchill.

Growing up in Churchill is a unique experience that not a whole lot of people can say they’ve had. I’ve grown up with polar bears, wildlife, tourists, and cold weather.

How did you get involved with Polar Bears International (PBI)?

I was contacted by my school’s guidance counselor who put my name in for this program that would connect me with people from across the world that are learning about the environment and polar bears. They needed a local hand in picking up the facts, so she put my name forward, and a few weeks later I was out on the Tundra Buggy with PBI.

What has been your attitude toward polar bears?

They are a very unique animal and we should do what we can to keep them around.

How would Churchill be impacted if the sea ice were to melt?

If the sea ice were to melt and the polar bears were to disappear, Churchill would be impacted quite a bit. Tremendously. It’d be really bad. Tourism is our main industry here, and with polar bears gone it would take a huge chunk out of our economy.

Have you noticed differences in the climate, living here?

I have noticed quite a bit of change. I’m 20 years old, and I’m gonna say 10 years ago the ice would be in the river until May, and now we can barely keep any ice in the river until April. So I’ve noticed quite a bit of the ice disappearing. It’s coming later and later.

If you could say one thing to the world about polar bears and the beauty of Churchill, what would you say and why?

I’d say, try and reduce your carbon footprint and get up here to see them if you can. They’re the world’s largest land carnivore, they’re an Arctic animal, and they’re extremely awesome. They’re big and fluffy and cute and cuddly.

Why do you care about the bears?

I grew up with them. It’d be a change for the worse. I like the bears. You like the bears. People come from all around the world to see the bears. It’d be highly unfortunate if no one else would be able to see them. Sure, you can see them in zoos, but that’s not as cool as seeing them in their natural habitat.

This Q&A was written by Katie Billing and Erica Wills of Polar Bears International for explore.org. It is used with permission here.

More polar bear stories on MNN:

Polar bears are 'extremely awesome. They're big and fluffy and cute and cuddly'
Meet Dylan Burton, lifelong resident of Churchill, Manitoba, who works with Polar Bears International. He's part of a team that's monitoring the annual polar be