TORONTO -- The conservation officer who helped tranquilize a polar bear spotted wandering across a baseball diamond in Churchill, Manitoba, says it was a rare daytime sighting within town limits.  

Bob Windsor said the Manitoba Polar Bear Alert line got a call on Oct. 9, reporting a polar bear sighting on a downtown baseball diamond.

“It was an awkward place to chase a bear because there are a lot of fences around the diamond, but a number of areas around its perimeter where people can walk through,” he told on Monday.

Windsor and another conservation officer managed to tranquilize the bear after ten to 15 minutes of chasing the animal through the field. 

“The bear went a short distance before the drug got her. It usually takes about three to five minutes for the tranquilizer to start working,” he said.

The polar bear was fairly young and just over 200 pounds, according to Windsor.

The whole ordeal was caught on camera by Churchill resident Danielle Daley, who posted her videos to Facebook, with the caption: “Only in Churchill mb! Outside my work this morning, good job to conservation for keeping our town safe! This little guy has been tranquilized and sent to polar bear jail.” As of Monday, her videos had more than 350 shares.

The polar bear is in the holding facility, which is regular protocol, and will eventually be relocated by helicopter 40 kilometres north of Churchill, said Windsor.

“Our top priority is safety”

Windsor said the polar bear attracted a crowd, which concerned the officers about the public’s safety.

“In a situation like this, where there are people around, it can be dangerous,” he said. “You don’t want to chase the bear towards people.”

Windsor added: “With the bears we chase, we go to great lengths to not shoot a bear. The top priority of our program is the safety of the people and the second priority is the wellbeing of the bear itself.”  

The conservation officer did note that it has been a quiet year in terms of polar bear spottings, but it there could be more sightings as the bears start moving along the Hudson Bay coast.

“The majority of them will stay along the water,” he said. “But the community just happens to be right along the path they use.”