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Canadian polar bears held in makeshift prisons

Stunning pictures show polar bears frolicking in the Canadian wilderness – and the crude ramshackle prisons made by locals to capture and get rid of them.

Adult polar bears and their cubs were photographed playing in the snow and cuddling up to each another in Churchill, Manitoba.

But also shown are prisons for the majestic animals where ‘problem’ bears are imprisoned and held before being flown away from the area.

Stunning pictures show polar bears frolicking in the Canadian wilderness in Churchill, Manitoba, playing in the snow and cuddling up to one another

also shown are prisons for the majestic animals where 'problem' bears are imprisoned and held before being flown away from the area

Also shown are prisons for the majestic animals (pictured) where ‘problem’ bears are imprisoned and held before being flown away from the area

 Crude tubular cages (pictured) are used to capture the creatures so they can be moved to the Polar Bear Holding Facility

 Crude tubular cages (pictured) are used to capture the creatures so they can be moved to the Polar Bear Holding Facility

 Patrols were organised in 2015 to protect locals during Halloween, which is known as the most dangerous night in Churchill because it is the peak of polar bear migration (pictured one of the tubular cages)

 Patrols were organised in 2015 to protect locals during Halloween, which is known as the most dangerous night in Churchill because it is the peak of polar bear migration (pictured one of the tubular cages)

In 2013 Bill Ayotte, who was 69 at the time, was seriously injured after trying to rescue 30-year-old Erin Greene after a bear caught her in its jaws early in the morning

In 2013 Bill Ayotte, who was 69 at the time, was seriously injured after trying to rescue 30-year-old Erin Greene after a bear caught her in its jaws early in the morning

 Three years after the shocking attack on Mr Ayotte and Ms Greene, a sled dog was killed and eaten by a bear

 Three years after the shocking attack on Mr Ayotte and Ms Greene, a sled dog was killed and eaten by a bear

Scores of incidents involving polar bears have been reported in Churchill as far back as the 1960s, one of which ended in the death of a child.

In 2013 Bill Ayotte, who was 69 at the time, was seriously injured after trying to rescue 30-year-old Erin Greene after a bear caught her in its jaws early in the morning.   

Three years later a sled dog was killed and eaten by a bear.

When the child was killed during the spate of attacks in the 1960s, the town began to clamp down on the creatures and set up more formal procedures if a bear should strike.

When people spot a bear, they can call a 24-hour hotline which puts them through to staff at the Polar Bear Alert Program who monitor the area.

Staff received nearly 400 calls in 2016 – their busiest year to date.

If the bear is in the designated ‘outer zone’, they will try to scare it away by firing cracker shells. If that fails, they use rubber bullets or paint balls to fire directly at them.

But if it is in the inner zone, where residents are much closer by, staff will try to capture the bear using large cylindrical traps baited with seal meat.

As the bear enters, a metal screen is triggered which locks behind it. 

The traps are then mounted on the back of trailers and driven to the Polar Bear Holding Facility.  

When a child was killed during the spate of attacks in the 1960s, the town began to clamp down on the creatures and set up more formal procedures if a bear should strike

When a child was killed during the spate of attacks in the 1960s, the town began to clamp down on the creatures and set up more formal procedures if a bear should strike

When people spot a bear, they can call a 24-hour hotline which puts them through to staff at the Polar Bear Alert Program who monitor the area

When people spot a bear, they can call a 24-hour hotline which puts them through to staff at the Polar Bear Alert Program who monitor the area

 If the bear is in the designated 'outer zone', they will try to scare it away by firing cracker shells. If that fails, they use rubber bullets or paint balls to fire directly at them

 If the bear is in the designated ‘outer zone’, they will try to scare it away by firing cracker shells. If that fails, they use rubber bullets or paint balls to fire directly at them

But if it is in the inner zone, where residents are much closer by, staff will try to capture the bear using large cylindrical traps baited with seal meat

But if it is in the inner zone, where residents are much closer by, staff will try to capture the bear using large cylindrical traps baited with seal meat

The facility, which was built in 1982, has space for 28 inmates and, by 2016, had housed more than 2,000.

Bears captured in the inner zone will be held for about a month to reduce the chance that it will return to the same populated area in which it was captured.  

When the time to release them comes, the bears are tranquilised, put into nets and strapped to helicopters, who then airlift them to a site 70 kilometers north of Churchill.

Tag radios are fixed to their ears so officials can track their movements, and impressions of their lips are also taken so they can be identified in years to come if they are recaptured.  

Bears captured in the inner zone will be held for about a month to reduce the chance that it will return to the same populated area in which it was captured

Bears captured in the inner zone will be held for about a month to reduce the chance that it will return to the same populated area in which it was captured

About 800 polar bears live in Churchill, which sits on the western flank of the Hudson Bay and is right in the middle of the bears’ migration route.

Halloween is considered to be the most dangerous night in Churchill because it is the peak of polar bear migration.

Patrols were organised in 2015 to protect locals on the night of October 31, with helicopters surveying the streets and bear traps being set up at bear hotspots. 

 Tag radios are fixed to their ears so officials can track their movements, and impressions of their lips are also taken so they can be identified in years to come if they are recaptured

 Tag radios are fixed to their ears so officials can track their movements, and impressions of their lips are also taken so they can be identified in years to come if they are recaptured

When the time to release them comes, the bears are tranquilised, put into nets and strapped to helicopters, who then airlift them to a site 70 kilometers north of Churchill

When the time to release them comes, the bears are tranquilised, put into nets and strapped to helicopters, who then airlift them to a site 70 kilometers north of Churchill

About 800 polar bears live in Churchill, which sits on the western flank of the Hudson Bay and is right in the middle of the bears' migration route

About 800 polar bears live in Churchill, which sits on the western flank of the Hudson Bay and is right in the middle of the bears’ migration route

British photographer Graham McGeorge, 46, based in Jacksonville, Florida, took these pictures of polar bears and the prisons set up to capture them.

‘I’ve photographed different types of bears all over the country, mostly brown bears and grizzly bears in Alaska,’ he said.

‘This is the first time I’ve photographed polar bears though, something which has been a life-long dream for me.

‘Churchill is a very remote place and it costs a lot to get there so I’ve been saving up for a long time.’  

British photographer Graham McGeorge, 46, based in Jacksonville, Florida, took these pictures of polar bears and the prisons set up to capture them

British photographer Graham McGeorge, 46, based in Jacksonville, Florida, took these pictures of polar bears and the prisons set up to capture them

 Graham also discussed the challenges of the shoot and how the polar bears reacted to his presence.

‘The main challenges of a shoot like this are the weather and light conditions but I’m used to that from previous shoots I’ve done, however the temperatures were particularly freezing on the day I did this shoot, around -35 degrees Celsius,’ he recalled.

‘It can take all day to find the bears after arriving at the location and you obviously have to be pretty careful around them, particularly the adults.

‘There was an older bear that clearly didn’t want to be around humans whatsoever as it’s probably been caught previously so has negative experiences of being around people.

‘Nuisance bears tend to get shot, tranquilised then flown away in a net by helicopter after being imprisoned for a short time.

'Nuisance bears tend to get shot, tranquilised then flown away in a net by helicopter after being imprisoned for a short time' he said

‘Nuisance bears tend to get shot, tranquilised then flown away in a net by helicopter after being imprisoned for a short time’ he said

'However, the cubs are really inquisitive, they look at you and want to come up and see what you're all about,' he added

‘However, the cubs are really inquisitive, they look at you and want to come up and see what you’re all about,’ he added

‘However, the cubs are really inquisitive, they look at you and want to come up and see what you’re all about.

Additionally, Graham divulged what he hopes people can take from his pictures.

‘I want to give people the opportunity to see things that they may never be able to see,’ he said.

‘Most of the feedback I get is people saying that they enjoy looking at something amazing that they feel they may never be able to experience themselves.’   



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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