Polar bear in good condition visits small Cree community 130km from coast of W. Hudson Bay

The remote and isolated Shamattawa First Nation in Manitoba was threatened last weekend by a large male polar bear in good condition prowling around but the bear was eventually captured near the dump and released near the coast without incident. No one blamed this wandering bear on climate change.

Another bear visited the community in August 2010, also without incident. See map for location and news report excerpts below.

The bear was first spotted on Friday 14 October and was captured Tuesday 18 October. Oddly, none of the reports explicitly state the sex of the bear, even those published after it was captured. Is it now politically incorrect to describe the sex of an animal?

The bear was described as a ‘large adult’: 250kg (551lbs) is ‘large’ for an adult female but not for an adult male, so it appears to have been female. If so, she may have been pregnant, which would explain why she was inland in October (looking for a good maternity den location) and why authorities chose to relocate her rather than shoot her, as so often happens. But perhaps they didn’t want to say they’d have killed it if it was male? As I said, just odd.

From CBC News (18 October):

A large adult polar bear was captured in a northern Manitoba First Nation on Tuesday and released on the Hudson Bay Coast after a number of days prowling the community, the province says.

A spokesperson from the province says conservation officers found a large adult polar bear just after noon on Tuesday, which weighed about 250 kg (551 pounds), which had evaded them for several days prior.

It was successfully tranquilized and transported by helicopter back to the coast and successfully released shortly after 3 p.m., the spokesperson said.

Earlier in the day, officers searched the community by helicopter for two hours trying to locate the animal without success.

They placed a culvert trap in the community, which is about 130 kilometres from the coast, and the province said officers would make daily trips to the community until the bear is located and safely relocated.

From an earlier CBC News report (17 October), Doug Clark from the University of Saskatchewan was quoted as saying:

…it’s not unheard of to see a polar bear stray that far away from Hudson Bay.

“It’s only 130 kilometres from the coast and for a polar bear, that’s not a particularly big distance. Polar bears have been observed in that part of the province before,” he said.

One of Clark’s areas of research is polar bear and human conflicts. “The bear … is doing what polar bears do when they come to communities.

They’re responding to attractants that they’ve smelled and they’re looking for things to eat.” What is unusual is the bear going right into the community, he said.

Clark doesn’t believe the bear travelled south because it was starving — the animal appears to be in good health in images taken of it.

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