Polar bears prowling Newfoundland come on top of coronavirus fears

On Tuesday 17 March 2020, several polar bears were reported in and around the community of St. Anthony on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, adding another threat on top of coronavirus concerns in the province. The photo below is from a 2018 Newfoundland sighting from the same region: none are available for the current report.

NP-PolarBearSighting 2018-6_large

There have been no reports of trouble but locals will have to stay vigilant to remain safe, which since 2008 has been a common concern from late winter to early spring. In 2012 in this area, a bear was shot after it destroyed homes and attacked livestock; another bear was shot the next week in the same area. And in 2016 and 2017, a bear had to be shot to protect residents. Bears at this time of year are in hunting mode, which is why my polar bear attack thriller novel, EATEN, is set in March.

Newfoundland Great Northern Peninsula map

Current sea ice conditions below.

UPDATE 22 March 2020: “Just after 1 p.m. on March 21, the RCMP St. Anthony advised they blocked off Goose Cove Road, St. Anthony, as a polar bear has been sighted in the area. Wildlife is en route to assess the situation. In the interest of public safety residents are asked to stay away from this area.” From Saltwire here. Another report on the same sighting here.

There is a bit less ice than average off Newfoundland at the moment but plenty of ice thick enough to support polar bears (see chart below). The bears are in the area to feed off the abundant population of harp seals that are currently giving birth in the area. Young seals will be available prey for polar bears for the next 8 weeks or so. St. Anthony on the northern peninsula is marked on the map:

Newfoundland East daily stage of development 2020 March 17

See ice in Canada and the world at this date below.

Sea ice Canada 2020 March 17

NSIDC Masie chart:

masie_all_zoom_4km 2020 March 17 Day 77

NSIDC chart:

Sea ice extent 2020 March 17 NSIDC

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