Wednesday, July 28, 2010

2009: One of the best polar bear years in decades?

Polar Bear Alley - Polar Bear Blog
[From the latest entry, dated October '09] Back in June, the Churchill River did not ‘break’, the term given when the last ice jam opens up and flows out with the tide, until June 16. For years, the port of Churchill has kept records of break-up and 2009 tied for the latest breakup in the last fifty years. A cool summer further contributed to a good, long ice season for the bears.
As for the bears, there are already two or three out in Buggyland and given the late ice season, all the bears look to be in very good shape. There is a lot of talk that this could be one of the best years for bears (health, at least... maybe numbers too) in decades.
Other exciting news from Churchill this summer includes the sighting of a mother with triplets along the coast of Hudson Bay. First reported by the summer tundra buggy tour, this is a very positive sign for Churchill’s bear population. Most bears that show up in the Churchill area can be considered as the periphery of the western Hudson Bay population, usually young, old or nutritionally challenged. Most healthy bears stay far away from Churchill until late in the season.

Wat’chee Lodge, a polar bear viewing operation focused on mothers and cubs emerging from the dens in spring, have reported triplets for the last few years as well. While triplets have been spotted moving through the Wildlife Management Area in 2006, this is the first display of a good, healthy, viable family. It will still be extremely challenging for the third cub to survive through this coming winter but this is an honest display of the health of this population. Who knows, another good ice season and maybe we’ll see two-year old triplets next year.
Bears were spotted for much of the summer near Ulukhaktok, formerly Holman, located on Victoria Island. Even here, ice was socked in much later than usual.

1 comment:

Sean Peake said...

The Hudson's Bay Company has had a post at the mouth of the Churchill almost continuously since 1717. From the post journals I've reviewed (1783-1785) break-up dates were recorded.