Category Archives: Polar Bear Research

Polar Bear Blog – The Blob

So, the world of weather and bears just keeps getting more complicated.  While El Nino and La Nina have not really messed with the bears since the 1990s, we have a new weather phenomena poking its nose into the arctic. The 'North Pacific Mode' seems to be responsible for a 'warm blob' of water in the Pacific.  This mode drives cold, wet air to eastern North America and keeps the west (and Yukon and Alaska) fairly warm and dry.  This blob is not quite as influential as an El Nino but it … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – Polar Bear Update

Well, the jet stream dipped pretty far south again this year so this seems to bode well for Hudson Bay and Davis Strait Bears.  Mothers with cubs were reported emerging from the dens in the first week of Watchee Lodge's operations in Wapusk National Park.  There seems to be a fair amount of movement and it looks like cub season may be a week ahead of schedule... much like freezeup was this fall. Last 'bear season', we encountered a lot of mothers and cubs and most looked pretty healthy, so there is a fair bit of … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – The Roaring Nineties

The 1990s were a turbulent time for Churchill's polar bears, it is really through this decade that we get a glimpse as to how drastically changing sea ice and weather patterns can affect bear populations. The 1980s are often seen as peak bear years in Churchill.  Ice conditions were favourable, especially in the late 1980s and there was some thought that the population was reaching carrying capacity by the end of that decade - that is, the seal population could not support any more bears in the area. Then, in 1990, disaster struck.  In March of that … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – New Ideas for Studying Bears

Over the past year, some pretty amazing ideas have come forward for polar bear research, a lot of these projects seem almost like science fiction actually. Polar Bear DNA Prints - World Wildlife Fund were in Norway and then Churchill last bear season taking samples from polar bear paw prints.  The snow from these prints will then be melted and DNA extracted back at the lab.  While this is a very 'young' research tool and likely provides limited results for now, it is pretty intriguing idea to study bears … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – Year in Review Pt II

In the last blog, I talked about how this year was mostly good for Churchill's bears but pretty bad for some individual bears that swam ashore early.  Today, we'll look at the rest of the world's bears... Alaska Two polar bear populations inhabit Alaska - the Southern Beaufort and the Chukchi Sea populations.  Although they are both living on the same highly variable sea ice, they seem to be reacting quite differently to changing conditions.  The Chukchi Sea population is reported in good condition with a high birth and cub survival rate.  In 2013, researchers found a … Continue Reading ››