The first report I’ve seen this season of a polar bear onshore has come in and ironically, it comes from northern Newfoundland, the setting of my polar bear attack thriller, EATEN. Only time will tell if this year will be as active as 2017’s record-breaker for polar bears ashore in Newfoundland.
Update: 6 March 2018. A couple of hours after posting this, CBC News Newfoundland published a story on this incident, providing a bit more detail and video footage of the bear wandering around local houses.
St. Lunaire-Griquet, where the bear was spotted, is just north of St. Anthony on the Northern Peninsula.
“There are reports of a polar bear in the St. Lunaire-Griquet area of the Northern Peninsula.
There have been a number of reported sightings of the animal over the last two days, and pictures of the huge creature and its tracks through the snow have been circulating on social media.”
Read the rest here. The picture provided is blurry but the bear looks in good condition.
Last year at this time there were several reports of bears onshore in Southern Labrador, and by April, there were more than a dozen sightings across Newfoundland and Southern Labrador (these bears are part of the Davis Strait subpopulation). By the time the ice retreated in May, Newfoundland (with at least 8 official sightings) had probably seen more polar bears than any other time since about 1880 (Crockford 2018:31).
The mean date of birth for harp seals, the primary prey for polar bears in this region at this time of year, is 12 March. Some females always give birth a bit earlier than this, so it’s likely this bear has already been feeding: either on newborn pups or on adults hauled out to give birth.
Sea ice conditions for the region: “Ice warning in effect”
Crockford, S.J. 2018. State of the Polar Bear Report 2017. Global Warming Policy Foundation Report #29. London. Pdf here.