We caught up with a weasel named Wally from Churchill Manitoba to see what living in the Great Canadian North is all about!
Hi, my name is Wally. I’m a Shorttail Weasel – better known as an ermine. I’m much smaller than a cat, but a little bigger than a mouse. I live at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, which is in Churchill Manitoba. Researchers travel from all over to visit the Centre and study the wonders of the north; yup it’s that cool of a place!
I run security around the building, keeping out mice, voles, shrews and squirrels, they’re an important part of the environment, but they sure can make a mess in the building. Animals aren’t the only visitors to the Centre there are also lots of people around like scientists, university students, volunteers and even groups of children.
Exploring the New Centre
We have just finished construction on the new Churchill Northern Studies Centre and boy is it ever huge! I may even have to find some extra help for my security rounds. The building is really well built for our cold northern climate and is more environmentally friendly with lights and heat that use a lot less energy. There’s even a large plastic dome on the roof where you can watch the northern lights or even the polar bears when they come by the Centre in October and November.
Tracking a Polar Bear
Scientists at the Centre study some pretty amazing and sometimes cute things like polar bear moms and their cubs. Polar bear cubs born in December are still too small and weak to leave the den in March when their mom needs to go hunt. This can be a tough time for mommy polar bears, their low body fat makes them really weak and they need good sea ice to help them hunt seals. When the weather is nice one of the scientists from the Centre will head out in a helicopter looking for these families to see how the cubs are doing.
Solving the Mysteries of the North
It is really important that we study the north because our planet is changing in ways we don’t completely understand and we need a lot of really smart people to help figure it out. Churchill Manitoba is the perfect spot to study the north, not only is it beautiful and full of wildlife it sits between two very important ecosystems – the northern boreal forest to the south and the arctic tundra to the north.
A Day in the Life
Life at the Churchill Centre can be pretty exciting, visitors get to meet the scientists; sleeping, eating and learning just like them! During the day visitors go on hikes and see hundreds of different kinds of birds, caribou, foxes, and all kinds of plants and insects. They also take a boat to see the beluga whales or even ride a tundra buggy to see the polar bears.
Protecting the North
Now that you know about the wonders of the north it is up to YOU to help protect it! You can do your part at home by reducing the amount of energy you use. Most importantly be inspired by nature and get outside and explore it!
If you have questions for Wally about Northern Canada or the Churchill Northern Studies Centre post them below.