Polar Bear Blog – It’s Been a Blast

We are just digging our way out of a good Churchill blizzard. Winds gusted up to about 70km per hour yesterday and it was pretty much whiteout conditions for most of the day. Still we went out looking for bears which meant mostly getting stuck in snowdrifts and breaking through lakes, which are still surprising soft around the edges. I would have thought that my ice driveway would have been in by now.

Over the past couple days, a lot of ice has built up here. On Saturday, there were a lot of bears out testing the ice and even a few seal kills. You could see bears from the Town Complex and from Dump Beach sneaking up on seals. One bear had such a big belly, he or she almost looked pregnant.

The wave of mothers and cubs, signifying the beginning of the end of bear season, has come in. Once the big males start moving out east, this kind of has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the population. In turn, the mothers and cubs start heading west towards Churchill and that, itself, pushes the juveniles even closer to town.

On Saturday, we watched three different family groups move around Bird Cove, one nestled in the rocks nursing until a young male came by and disturbed her – and us – and then our truck. Still, it was pretty cool – even if he might be too smart for his own good.

This morning, a couple male bears were sparring at Tundra Buggy camp and a mother and cub passed by the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. There were fresh tracks at Cape Merry and from the Old Dump but, other than that, it is a quiet day. ‘Arctic smoke’ hangs over the last of the visible open water at Cape Merry and the true arctic pastels finally grace the sky. Sun dogs greeted us this morning, breathing a sigh of relief over this bear season.

A sigh of relief will also be felt when the Port finally gets this last ship out and into the bay. The move is supposed to happen tomorrow and would be great to watch. The river is full of ice – some really packed in – so it will be a bit of a challenge for the tug operators to swing this ship around and guide it out the channel. The Port has pushed this season probably a bit farther than they should have… and consequently busted the myth of the Bay freezing later and later.

We are all looking for a south wind now just to give a bit of reprieve to this bear season – for the past two years, we have really been saved just at the nick of time so we’ll see how this week plays out. You never know…

As usual, I got swept away with bear season and missed a few updates – but it is a busy time of year. So, here’s a bit more of a roundup to finish this entry…

Dancer looks like he won’t make it in to Ladoon’s this year. From the sounds of it, he camped out at Great White Bear for the whole season – laying low and maybe avoiding the potential of a ‘raid’ this year. Coincidentally, on the anniversary of the ‘Ladoon raids’, we found two of Ladoon’s old bears really close to town – on the S-turn by old Fort Churchill.

At first, it seemed a bit strange, but then through the day, at least one of them – DogFace – made a full and slow sweep inland and back to Ladoon’s by the end of the day. I suppose this could have been coincidence but isn’t it kind of a fascinating thought to consider that DogFace might have remembered the exact date of the ‘raids’ and simply decided to go for a stroll instead of waiting to see what happens…? Smart bear.

And, in the end, nothing happened. Whether it was bad press or simply a change in policy, there was no Ladoon raid this year. In fact, a mediator is apparently in town trying to work out a solution – hopefully, it works… I guess we will find out.

That’s about it for now… There’s an Ivory Gull along the coast, a bunch of Arctic Foxes, a snowy owl out in Buggyland and, well, ravens too.

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