Category Archives: The Arctic

Polar Bear Blog – West Baffin

Well, its been three years since my last visit but I'm back up in Pond Inlet, Nunavut; this time for a full floe edge season running a tourist camp on the sea ice. We've spent a couple days loading up qamutiks, arctic sleds towed by snowmobiles, and sending equipment out to the cache.  Tomorrow, we'll probably head out and start erecting tents and hooking things up. Pond Inlet is a community of about two thousand people set in one of the nicest locations in the arctic.  The Inlet itself separates the community from Bylot Island to … Continue Reading ››

Polar Bear Blog – Last Call

April and May are a busy time for polar bears. Not only is it peak seal hunting conditions but its also time for bears to, well, get busy. By age four or five, females are sexually mature and ready to mate. As they go into estrous, they appear to leave a scent trail in their footsteps allowing male polar bears to track them. Preferably, the female ‘allows’ the male to court her and they mate over several days, often find a ‘secluded’ spot for their tryst. However, there is considerable competition for mates among the males … Continue Reading ››

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 – Gobama! The Importance of ANWR

Since President Obama announced expanded protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and a Protected Marine Area in Alaska, there has been a fair bit of discussion about how this affect polar bears, if at all.  I would say that those 'crowing' about this decision are absolutely right to do so. This is a very important move for Alaska's polar bears. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is extremely important for the Southern Beaufort polar bear population, especially the pregnant females - obviously critical animals for any population. The vast majority of terrestrial dens occur within … 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 ››