Posted onNovember 28, 2022|Comments Off on Polar bear specialist calls Hudson Bay freeze-up ‘late’ yet bears were moving offshore 2 weeks ago
Predictably, polar bear specialist Andrew Derocher has finally posted a tracking map of the Western Hudson Bay bears his team has fitted with collars and eartags–two weeks after bears were released from Churchill’s polar bear jail, which is the local signal that there is enough sea ice for bears to leave shore. As I reported two weeks ago, release of jailed bears happened this year on 10 November. And as I predicted in that post, by waiting so long after that event to post his map, Derocher can make it seem to his naive followers on Twitter that the bears are just starting to leave now (the last map he posted was on 11 November, when none of his bears had moved). He reinforces this by calling WH freeze-up “late”, when by all objective measures (including local informants reporting bears on the ice) it was as early as it had been in the 1980s (Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017).
Recall that fall is the second-most important feeding season for polar bears, due to the fact that seals are strongly attracted to newly-forming sea ice. It’s their chance to regain some or all of the weight lost over the summer, before the long winter fast begins (while bears indeed hunt when they can, they are not often successful during the depths of the Arctic winter: most bears are at their lowest weight by March).
UPDATE 12 November 2022. One of the independents on the ground near Churchill had this to say about the bears and freeze-up conditions this year:
“Bears started leaving on November 10; conservation emptied the jail on the 10th as well.”
[the 10th was the day this post was originally published; ‘the jail’ is the Churchill Polar Bear Alert Program’s ‘holding facility’, see report below]. This information suggests the average date for bears leaving shore will likely turn out to be 12-14 November, again earlier than the average for the 1980s (16 Nov +/- 5 days). There may still be a few bears on the shore of Wapusk National Park that seem to be in no hurry to leave, but a few stragglers doesn’t mean there isn’t ice available for hunting.
Posted onNovember 4, 2022|Comments Off on Polar bear triplet litter spotted near Churchill as ice starts to form along west coast of Hudson Bay
Polar bears, including a litter of triplet cubs (a sign of very good health), are gathering near Churchill, Manitoba where new ice is forming along the coast. This means the fall seal hunt will soon begin, depending on the winds (it might be a few days from now or a few weeks).
See below for some of the images of bears on the shore of Wapusk National Park taken by Explore.org video cams from Tundra Buggy-based cameras, as well as the most recent Churchill problem bear report.
Posted onOctober 18, 2022|Comments Off on Western Hudson Bay polar bears waiting for the sea ice to freeze as tourists flock to watch
Should only be a few weeks more until the ice forms along the western shore of Hudson Bay, it’s already been snowing. But for the tourist outfitters around Churchill, this is their time to profit from those willing and able to spend big money to see polar bears up close.
Posted onOctober 4, 2022|Comments Off on Good news update out of W Hudson Bay: fat polar bears are behaving themselves
Despite continued dire predictions of catastrophy, polar bears in Western Hudson Bay are behaving like the well-fed predators on holiday they are: bears are causing few problems in Churchill and poking around Arviat, seemingly out of curiousity rather than actively stalking prey.
Bears are chased out of Western Hudson Bay communities due to an abundance of caution but so far, no frightening encounters have been reported that I’ve heard about. That’s true elsewhere as well: an uneventful summer for polar bear attacks is good news indeed.
Meanwhile, no further reports from Churchill about problem bears: the last one issued was for the first week in August. Time will tell at freeze-up whether this will be yet another very good year for Western Hudson Bay bears.
Funny how these reports in recent years (these included) don’t mention the condition of bears the way they used to as recently as 2017 (or the state of the sea ice). I guess it’s so they can’t be used as evidence against the prevailing mantra that western Hudson Bay polar bears that spend the summer onshore are starving because of the lack of ice due to human-caused global warming!
Posted onJuly 1, 2022|Comments Off on Hudson Bay polar bears still have lots of ice at July 1
Although some have come ashore in the north around Arviat, most polar bears are still on the ice. Disaster averted for another season as predictions of doom fail to meet reality.
Sea ice on Hudson Bay is still abundant in the southwest sector, including around Churchill, and much of that is still thick first year ice (>1.2m thick, dark green on the ‘stage of development’ charts).
Hence totally expected that the New York Timeswould print someone’s unsupported claim that the polar bears of Churchill (part of the Western Hudson Bay subpopulation) are on the verge of extirpation due to lack of sea ice and other similar nonsense. Also not surprising to find that Canadian government biologist Nick Lunn used the occasion to again offer unpublished and misleading data to a reporter. However, this time it’s good news meant to sound like an emergency: if correct, the data he shared indicate polar bears are heavier now than they were in the 1990s and early 2000s.