Sunday, November 04, 2012

Close Encounters of the Polar Bear Kind‏

Greetings All,
Our visit to Churchill to see the Polar bears is coming to an end. We've had some wonderfully close yet safe encounters with polar bears. It's great being in the warm and elevated Polar Rover observing wild polar bears just feet away.

Yesterday, we saw a mother with two yearling cubs cross the road.

Cubs are becoming a rare site in Churchill. I'm not sure if it's because of global warming or if the females are avoiding the Bay because of all the males around. Male polar bears will kill cubs given the chance.

Today we were surrounded by polar bears. There were three groups of males sparring or play fighting.

I'm amazed that they have the energy to play given that they haven't eaten in months. Another bear was taking out his aggressions on a sign.

When we got close enough to read the sign, we could see why he was so upset.

He wanted to get fed! When not sparring, the males would rest or come check us out. The would jump up against the Tundra Buggy and at twelve feet tall nearly reach the windows.

One curious guy came under the back observation deck sniffing at our boots through the metal grate. They have gentle, almost pleading eyes but beneath that docile exterior is one of the world's most ferocious predators.

We've seen a few other creatures while looking for polar bears. Yesterday we spotted a red fox trotting across the tundra. They appear larger than our foxes and this one had a dark tail.

Today we saw two Snowy Owls. The first was far away and looked like a white blob on the tundra. The second flew up as we approached and landed in the top of a white spruce not far away.

There were reports of Snowy Owls in Vermont last winter. If they come to vermont again this winter, I'll be sure to check them out. They are one of the largest owls in the world.

As we were driving back to Churchill this evening we came across a polar bear attacking a snowmobile.

He chewed on the seat, pushed against the machine and at one point tried to climb on it. We were amused but I'm sure the owner won't be too happy when he discovers his damaged snowmobile.  A woman in a few buses closer to the action was able to take a video.  She posted it on YouTube:

Tomorrow we head back to Winnipeg for the night before flying back to Montreal then driving home on Wednesday.

Marc and Peggy

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