Polar Bear Blog – North Wind, South Wind

With strong north winds offering some hope of ice yesterday, south winds have returned today.  The view from the coast is all open water from town to buggyland, even the river is still open.  Any snow that has fallen has blown away and the tundra is bare once again.  Temperatures have fallen a bit so that’s good, it looks like there’s some hope on the horizon.

The bear patterns are a bit strange this year too.  It seems like one day is very busy with 10-15 bears in the area but then its very quiet the next.  Even now, it looks like we are getting the ‘wave’ of juvenile bears that usually comes through in late October.  That being said, there has been a pretty random mix of older bears, singles and a lot of family groups so far.  ‘Random’ being the key word.

Yesterday, one family group walked most of the coast from Bird Cove to L5, the recycling centre.  This mother and two coys camped out in a small snowbank about a mile from town, along with two other young bears that were vaguely following her.  This morning she was still hovering outside of town boundaries, moving back east near the airport, possibly setting up camp at the old dump.

Two years ago, the ice was pretty much frozen and the bears were starting to head back out on the ice.  A safe ‘average’ date for the bears departure has been November 18th-21st so the chance is still there but things need to change quickly.  Unfortunately, this year just feels like we’re in holding pattern.

Its not just bears that will be challenged by this late winter, it is also the small rodents – the lemming and voles – that make up the base of the food chain.  They need the snowy insulation for warmth once winter finally sets in, if they don’t get that, this El Nino could really ripple through a lot of wildlife populations.

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