Bears forced ashore in summer in seasonal ice areas undergo a prolonged fast, conserving energy and living off their fat reserves until the ice returns in late fall.

7/8/2014 6:18:58 PM

The Long Fast Begins

At this time of year, biologists closely monitor the ice break-up on Hudson Bay. They are especially interested in finding out when the satellite-collared polar bears from the Western Hudson Bay and Southern Hudson Bay populations are forced ashore by melting ice.

On land, polar bears in this area undergo a prolonged fast until the bay freezes again in late fall, providing them with access to their seal-hunting grounds.

The map below from scientist Alysa McCall at the University of Alberta shows that one polar bear from each population is now on land (Bear I for the Western Hudson Bay population, Bear F for Southern Hudson Bay). Bear I is on the coast just north of Churchill.  

McCall says that the ice is breaking up rapidly now, so by next week more polar bears will probably be onshore.

The only collared bear still far out on the bay is Bear R. "She has quite a distance to travel to reach land if that's where she actually is," says McCall. "We might be looking at a dropped collar."

For more on what scientists learn from collared polar bears, visit our FAQ and read McCall's latest blog post, Why Do Polar Bears Do What They Do? Also visit our Bear Tracker Map.

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