6/7/2012 4:22:37 PM

Polar Bears on the Ice ... for Now

It’s now early June and we’re watching and waiting to see how 2012 will play out for the Western Hudson Bay polar bear population.

As of June 4th, all the collared females we’re tracking by satellite are still on the ice. Some bears are suspiciously close to shore, but we can hope they’ve found some good hunting conditions and are packing on the calories to make it through the ice-free period ahead. Some bears are still far offshore. It’s no problem for most adult females to undertake a long swim to shore if they have to, but there are concerns for cubs and yearlings if the ice breaks up too quickly. Time will tell.

So far, the ice in Hudson Bay looks pretty good for the bears from around the Churchill area. Those farther north in Foxe Basin and those off Labrador might be having a bit of a rougher season because the sea ice maps show some missing ice.

Today, temperatures are about normal in Churchill so fingers crossed that it stays that way. Every day the bears are out on the ice is another day that they might catch a seal.

The pipedream that the bears will make do with berries isn’t a meaningful answer for a bear that makes its living eating blubber. A fat bear is a happy bear and if a polar bear could smile (can they?) then they’re probably happiest when they catch a really chubby seal. Ponder (as a polar bear might) scrounging for blueberries in a mosquito-infested bog compared with a belly full of seal blubber ….

All in all, we can hope the ice lingers well into July but it now all depends on how the spring and early summer warm up. 

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