Polar bear female with cubs fights off adult male – photos from W Hudson Bay

Discovery News ran a photo feature yesterday (January 28, 2014), courtesy Mike Lockhart from Polar Bears International, of an interesting incident Lockhart witnessed while was working with a government (Manitoba Conservation) research team surveying bears of Western Hudson Bay in the fall of 2013.

Figure 1. Female with 2 cubs turns on an adult male (far right) that she had been happily feeding with moments before. Mike Lockhart photo, Polar Bears International and Discovery News.

Figure 1. Female with 2 cubs turns on an adult male (far left) that she had been happily feeding with moments before. This is the 3rd photo in the sequence; see description and photo 4 below. Mike Lockhart photo, Polar Bears International, Discovery News story.

Figure 2. Female with 2 cubs fights off the male (now on the right) and drives him away from the seal he killed. Mike Lockhart photo, Polar Bears International and Discovery News.

Figure 2. Female with 2 cubs fights off the male (now on the right) and drives him away from the seal he killed. Mike Lockhart photo, Polar Bears International, Discovery News story.

Discovery News describes the sequence of events this way:

“an adult male and a smaller subadult [were] feasting on the carcass of a freshly-killed seal. There was nothing unusual about that. What caught the scientists’ attention was the fact that, about 400 meters away, a female with two young cubs was heading straight for them….

As they watched the female make a beeline for the kill, with her cubs perhaps 100 meters behind her, Lockhart and his colleagues braced themselves for the worst. “All of us in the helicopter were sure we were going to see a cub wiped out,” he told Discovery News.”  …

Instead, the mother simply joined in the feast, and, after initially standing back hesitantly, the cubs joined in. …

“She was there feeding,” recalls Lockhart. “They were all feeding. Then all of a sudden … she just started batting the male around, pushing him back. She did that several times. He tried to get a little bit closer and she’d keep chasing him off.

See the entire sequence here.

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