While the rest of us will be out and about on Halloween night, undoubtedly dressed in our best Ron Swanson and Daria Morgendorffer outfits, the children of Arviat, Canada will be forced to spend the holiday indoors under their parents’ watchful eyes. That’s because the small town, which only houses some 2,300 people, has canceled trick-or-treating altogether this year due to the threat of polar bears. Yes, polar bears have single-handedly ruined Halloween.
Though, to be fair to those furry white creatures, some of the blame rests on climate change and global warming. Per Slate:
Over the last several years, shore ice has diminished along the western edge of Hudson Bay, forcing the annual polar bear migration closer and closer to town. Bears prefer to be as far out on the ice as possible, to get closer to seals and fish. Less ice means there’s nowhere for the bears to go but straight through town, in many cases. Hudson Bay has warmed by about 3 degrees Celsius—more than three times the global rate—since the 1990s.
That means bear-human run-ins have become increasingly common. Arviat is now a town under siege by polar bears. According to an interview with Leo Ikakhik, Arviat’s polar bear monitor, no one has ever been injured by a polar bear there, although one attacked a sled dog last September. Still, a deadly encounter is a very real possibility: “[U]nfortunately, polar bear-human conflicts are very likely going to increase in many parts of the circumpolar Arctic as climate warming progresses,” an expert told BBC Nature in 2011. During peak bear season—October—Ikakhik spots as many as seven or eight bears a day, which is worrisome. The World Wildlife Fund helped support the town’s construction of electric fences around its perimeter and hired Ikakhik, actions that have brought down the rate of self-defense bear kills by freaked-out townspeople.
Mike Spence, mayor of Churchill, Manitoba, a town about 150 miles from Arviat, offered some advice on how to steer clear of hungry polar bears come All Hallows’ Eve: “Don’t dress up as a seal.”
(But for real, Arviat kids, just like…don’t go out at all, seal outfit or not.)