Wildlife officials in northern Manitoba say the recent grizzly bear trapped and tagged near Churchill is the first Manitoba grizzly bear to be tracked with GPS technology and could provide new and important insights on grizzlies.

The grizzly first caused trouble in a cabin south of Churchill July 18. 

“The bear had broken in through the glass and got into the cabin and sort of ransacked the cabin,” said Vicki Trim in a phone interview with CTV News from Thompson.

Trim is a wildlife biologist and the acting regional wildlife manager northeast region with the Government of Manitoba.

“That’s not an uncommon occurrence in the north but we are more used to polar bears and black bears.”

Conservation officers hung two traps with seal meat to entice the bear and managed to catch it on July 26.

“Low and behold they caught a bear, but it was a grizzly bear,” said Trim.

Grizzly sightings more regular over last 10 years

She said typically over the last 10 years Manitoba Sustainable Development gets one to two reports of grizzly bear sightings a year, but it’s not clear where exactly the bears come from and provincially nothing has been done to study them.

The Manitoba Conservation Officers’ Association said in an online post the grizzly bear was placed into the Polar Bear Holding Facility and released the same afternoon north of Churchill, towards the Manitoba-Nunavut border where staff believes the bear may have originated.

MCOA said the adult male weighed 388lbs and was ear tagged, lip tattooed and equipped with a GPS ear tag.

“It’s just a small ear transmitter attached to the ear. It pretty much weighs nothing and it last for 3 or 4 months it takes a location every day and then that location goes to a website that certain people can access,” said Trim.

Tracking grizzly to help identify what’s going on

She said knowing where the bear is located every day is a really good safety measure because it can track if the bear is coming back or has any intentions of coming back to Churchill.

MCOA said barren-ground grizzly bears are said to be extirpated from the Province of Manitoba, they are protected under the Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act.

“The fact that we’ve got a transmitter on this one, being able to watch it for the next couple months, it will really help start identifying what’s going. If it stays in Manitoba that’s one thing, if it goes back north to Nunavut or Northwest Territories that’s another story.”

Trim said sightings of grizzly bears used to be more common in the 1970s and early 1980s, but have become more regular in the last 10 years.

Trim said grizzly bears are listed as extirpated under the provincial endangered species and ecosystem act, and more sightings would not change their status.

“The way a species would come of the extirpated list would be if we had a documented female with cubs in the province. Any sightings, you can’t identify gender.

“We’ve never handled grizzly bears in Manitoba.”

“This is the first one we’ve caught and it’s a male.”