Trick or treat? Not in a northern Canadian town where it's polar bear season

The World
A polar bear walks along the shore of Hudson Bay, Canada.

A polar bear walks along the shore of Hudson Bay, Canada.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

There won't be ghosts, goblins or Ninja Turtles roaming the streets of Arviat this Halloween, but there might be some polar bears — just not in costume.

Arviat is a hamlet on the western shore of Hudson Bay, in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. It's home to 2,700 people and, each fall, about 1,200 polar bears. 

The bears come through as they migrate up the west coast of Hudson Bay's toward the high Arctic. Their migration used to coincide with the freezing of the bay. But as the climate has warmed in recent years — and the ice freezes later — the bears stay along the coast longer. 

That means more bears having been coming through Arviat more and more, so the hamlet decided to move its Halloween celebrations into the community hall.

“We have a big youth population, so there could be as many as 1,200 kids on the streets," says Steve England, Arviat’s senior administrative officer. "We can’t ensure their safety, so that’s why we changed the venue of trick-or-treating from door-to-door to our inside community complex."

The community hall will feature a haunted house, face painting and, of course, candy, so kids will still go home with plenty of treats. It's the first indoor Halloween in Arviat, but it’s unlikely to be the last.

“The bears have already adapted to climate change,” England says. “Now it’s our turn.”