Polar Bear Blog – Winter, Freeze-up and Churchill’s Polar Bears | Polar Bear Alley – Guide to the Polar Bears of Churchill
Well, it is around -50C with the windchill in Churchill today...
As I have said before, January is not a really big month for the polar bears of western Hudson Bay. The bulk of hunting is done in the spring and the ice is really just too thick right now for consistent and successful seal hunting. It is believed that the bears will actually keep losing weight over the winter, hitting their lowest weights in spring. For much of the coldest and darkest parts of winter (even if its not that dark near Churchill…), the bears actually remain in a state of ‘walking hibernation’.
In blizzards and extreme cold, the bears kind of take a ‘time out’, hunkering down on the lee-side of a snow drift or ice ridge and simply wait things out. Much like blizzards in ‘bear season’, they will let the snow cover them, likely providing a bit of insulation from the wind. It is this time of year that is toughest for sub-adult bears and mothers with cubs. Any bear without a good level of fat stores is more susceptible to extreme temperatures and the increased energy expenditures associated with cold.