Polar bears can come ashore any time of year and cause trouble: a timely reminder

From Polar Bear Science

Posted on January 14, 2021 | 

If you thought polar bears were only a danger to people in summer when sea ice is low, think again. Bears do occasionally come ashore early to mid-winter looking for food because hunting is difficult and they are approaching their leanest time of year. They simply walk from the ice onto land – often close to communities – because many things associated with modern human living are food attractants for polar bears.

This tracking map of Western Hudson Bay bears (females with collars) 11 January 2021 (courtesy Andrew Derocher) shows a bear just offshore near the community of Whale Cove on the northwest coast – close enough to come ashore if she decides that could be in her best interests:

Derocher had this to say about the location of this bear (12 Jan 2021):

I thought the same thing… Let’s hope it stays out of trouble. It’s a bit odd to have a bear so close to shore at this time of year. There are harbour seals in the flaw lead so that’s a possibility. Bear do what they want to do…

— Andrew Derocher (@AEDerocher) January 12, 2021

It may be ‘odd’ for a bear to be so close to shore in winter but since we know that polar bears do come ashore in winter, it isn’t rare but ‘uncommon’. Most of the trouble with bears ashore seems to come in March/April on the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland when sea ice is more extensive and where 2017 was an exceptional year.


2019 Labrador, Bears reported onshore in Labrador (January 2)

2019 LabradorBears onshore in Labrador causing problems (February 1)

2019 Alaska, Polar bear attack hundreds of miles from shore (January 15)

2016 LabradorBears onshore in Labrador (7 February)

2016 Summary of prior incidents and attractants (19 March)

Below: Sea ice conditions at 13 January 2021, North America compared to 2020 and 2019, showing how extensive the ice was in 2019 (and accounting for bears ashore at Labrador and Newfoundland in early January):

Below is a chart from 1985, when sea ice off Labrador and Newfoundland was as thick in mid-January as it was in 2019, yet as far as I know, there were no reports of bears ashore in Labrador or northern Newfoundland. This difference is almost certainly because the population size of Davis Strait bears had not yet recovered from previous centuries of overhunting and harp seals numbers were still quite low compared to what they rose to over the next three decades: currently, both Davis Strait polar bears and harps seals are abundant (DFO 2012, 2014, 2020; Peacock et al. 2013) and numbers could still be climbing, although the results of a recent bear survey in the region has not yet been published.


Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) 2012. Current status of northwest Atlantic harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus). Science Advisory Report 2011/070.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada DFO. 2014. Status of Northwest Atlantic harp seals, Pagophilus groenlandicus. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2014/011.

DFO. 2020. 2019 Status of Northwest Atlantic Harp Seals, Pagophilus groenlandicus. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2020/020. http://www.isdm-gdsi.gc.ca/csas-sccs/applications/Publications/result-eng.asp?params=0&series=7&year=2020 PDF here.

Peacock, E., Taylor, M.K., Laake, J., and Stirling, I. 2013. Population ecology of polar bears in Davis Strait, Canada and Greenland. Journal of Wildlife Management 77:463–476. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jwmg.489/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

5 6 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Peta of Newark
January 15, 2021 7:09 pm

“”come ashore any time“”And who can blame them? C’mon. Let’s be hearing ya

It’s perfectly obvious and everybody knows if, not just nottalott, everybody knows that The Ocean is now So Hot with all them jettazooles and sqoowlygooles of engerny that it’s totally fizzing with mozzies
The poor ol’ Pohly Bares don’t wanna get stung anymore than anyone does
They’re only nearly human after all – just ask Donut Anttenburg and or the BBC

And and and, it’s a win-win for the bears, all 97 (plus or minus 422.429742) of them left in total exitences.
Some of them may still be actually alive!!!!

They’ve heard tell, on The World-Wide-Worm and nearly positively almost maybe could be projiktitaded by the Super Chunder Advanced Chunda Giga Sputnik (recently achieved orbit on it’s 97th launch attempt by NOSEY NOGOODS) of a bumper harvest of Ultra Unprencedented Kilonova Supermassive Zigga Sqwigga Meel Wurms to eat. yum yum yum
Not stupid are Poling Beers. Oh no.

A Dream Come True – we would all jump at a deal like that. Shirley we would.
And on the very remotest off-chance that we maybe deferred (an insane prostposishion I know), we’d be intimidated, tr011ed, be mashed by Total Personally and Financial Ruination and sent to Siberia.
To warm up

Polar Bears Rool

Last edited 2 years ago by Peta of Newark
January 15, 2021 7:09 pm

Polar Bears can turn up where you would totally not expect a polar bear, like in the middle of the Victoria and Albert mountains. Maybe it was a shortcut from one side of Ellesmere Island to the other.

Other than their unpredictability, their other charming trait is that they are virtually invisible in a white out.

Where’s the bear? I’m sure I saw a bear. Oh crap, she’s behind me. (Quoted from a Canadian Ranger.)

January 15, 2021 7:51 pm

I worry about running into a young juvenile male black bear bicycling near my house during the summer and fall. I can’t imagine running into a 1000 lb polar bear that could probably outrun me on the bike.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  rbabcock
January 15, 2021 8:28 pm

Bicycling black bears present a formidable threat to hikers. Hell, they’re blindingly fast on four legs. I’d hate to come across one on a bike. Good thing it’s only Summer and Fall you have them on two wheels.

The guy who supplies them with that advantage should be investigated.

Rainer Bensch
Reply to  Rory Forbes
January 16, 2021 5:56 am

Does he supplies them with tandems?

Reply to  Rory Forbes
January 16, 2021 6:11 am

Ok you got me on that one.

Steve Keohane
Reply to  Rory Forbes
January 16, 2021 8:18 am

I’m sure they will use e-bikes for hunting…much quieter.

J Doug Swallow
Reply to  Rory Forbes
January 17, 2021 5:31 am

“Tok trapper says he was attacked by wolf while on snow machine”
Alaska Dispatch
December 18, 2012

Reply to  rbabcock
January 16, 2021 12:42 am

I’ve only seen black bears on a unicycle

Reply to  eyesonu
January 16, 2021 1:14 am

The story, probably apophrycal, about President Ceaucescu of Romania wanting to entertain a visiting dignitary who wanted to shoot a bear. In order to guarantee a shot a canned hunt was set up using bear from a circus as the only one available.
On the day the bear was released and wandered off into the forest where he met a forestry worker riding to work on his bicycle. The worker panicked and ran off leaving his bicycle behind.
The next scene was the huntsman up in his hide seeing the bear riding the bicycle down the track towards him.
I’ve never heard what transpired!

J Doug Swallow
Reply to  rbabcock
January 17, 2021 5:30 am

When these wolves begin to kill humans, such as children walking home after getting off of a bus, then perhaps the far left fools who know nothing about the west, cattle or wolves will be silenced over the idiotic position they have taken over these predators.
Photos: Wolf chases BC motorcyclist
 June 16, 2013 8:09 a.m. 

Reply to  J Doug Swallow
January 26, 2021 7:07 pm

Cougars are common in areas of BC, such as Vancouver Island, some attacks fought off. Several years ago an XXC skier was killed by a cougar near banff. They are stealthy.

Meanwhile, coyotes are becoming aggressive in Vancouver BC’s big park.

Stephen Mueller
January 15, 2021 9:00 pm

They could come to Victoria Australia , i just heard on the news that it snowed in Victoria today 16/1/21 in the middle of summer , i am 62 and have never heard the like never.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Stephen Mueller
January 15, 2021 11:39 pm

Visible proof of Gorebull Swarming in Victoria! Haven’t yet seen the bicycling bears in my neck of the woods, but neighbors tell me that it’s important to keep some around, bicycling or not, for the disposal of climate alarmists and other obnoxious city folk! If you receive an invite to watch the bears feeding in the spring I recommend a polite but firm decline!

Nine out of ten bears prefer vegans according to local surveys; but Josey Wales prefers Ten Bears to most anyone else!

Steve Keohane
Reply to  Abolition Man
January 16, 2021 8:21 am

Surely you meant ‘recycling’ of the climate alarmists and other obnoxious city folk, not ‘disposal’.

Reply to  Stephen Mueller
January 16, 2021 3:27 am

yeah chilly day elsewhere too 19.6 or so they reckon
down from 38c this time last week

January 16, 2021 1:32 am

Well the sea ice is low right now in the Kara Sea, off Svalbard and in parts of the Bering Strait….

Reply to  griff
January 16, 2021 4:38 am

Proof ???

Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 16, 2021 5:19 am

comment image

Reply to  fred250
January 16, 2021 11:11 am

Lack of EVs

Reply to  griff
January 16, 2021 5:14 am

NO it is NOT low,

It is FAR HIGHER than it has been for most of the last 10,000 years.

Bering Strait is ABOVE 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020

Svalbard didn’t even have any ice around it EVEN IN WINTER in 1922, there’s sea ice there now.

Greenland Sea is above all years back to 2005 except 2009, 2010 and 2013

The Sea of Okhotsk is above every year back to 2005 except 2013.

and Yellow Sea is also WELL ABOVE the 15 year average

So CLIMATE DENIER griff, chooses the one region that has had a “not-as-cold-as-usual” WEATHER pattern over it.

But guess what, little Weather Denier.. that little blob is moving , and pretty soon the Kara Sea will also start to freeze solid.

Reply to  griff
January 16, 2021 5:27 am

The ignorant brain-washed cultist, griff, has ZERO ability to learn.

A norwegian blue with a claw stuck in a cracked LP groove.

Still hasn’t figured out that the mid-late 1970s was a time of EXTREME HIGH LEVELS of sea Arctic sea ice which made life for ALL Arctic creatures difficult

comment image

The RECOVERY slightly towards more normal Holocene levels has been a boon for all Arctic Life.

But griff just DOESN’T CARE. !

Extreme high levels of sea ice are more important than Arctic LIFE to you, hey griff.

You must really HATE that Arctic sea life !!

Climate believer
Reply to  griff
January 16, 2021 6:27 am

“Well the sea ice is low right now in the Kara Sea, off Svalbard and in parts of the Bering Strait….”

Wonder why you didn’t mention the Greenland Sea?

Reply to  Climate believer
January 16, 2021 11:12 am

Cherries are sweeter in Kara Sea

Reply to  griff
January 16, 2021 9:45 am

Bears are not worried about it, their population remains the same for around 15 years now, despite the lower summer sea ice cover during those same last 15 years.

It is clear you never can make a point over it because you are a conned Englishmen.

Climate believer
January 16, 2021 1:39 am

This Derocher guy is not a scientist, he’s an activist.

Historic records and journals going back to the very beginning of Arctic exploration show that this bear behaviour is by no means “odd”. If he were to read accounts of the first attempts at over wintering in the Arctic back in the 17th century, he might rethink his preconceived ideas.

This is from his twitter feed and just about sums up his level of scientific integrity.

Polar bear deniers.jpg
Climate believer
Reply to  Climate believer
January 16, 2021 4:52 am

From the journal of seven Dutch sailors who over wintered at 79° 45′ N.

The 17th January 1633, Bay of Mauritius, North Spitsbergen/Svalbard:

This morning we heard that our three comrades in the Amsterdam tent (tent=hut) had killed a large bear during the dog-watch. The wind and cold continued. During the first watch, we saw a bear on the ice before our tent, but on seeing us he fled. This night we melted our beer for the third time. When the moon was in the S.W., we heard our comrades shooting, whereupon we turned out in order to assist them, if necessary. On arriving there, they shot at a bear for the second time, whom we then killed with our lances. In the dog-watch, another bear appeared outside our tent, and was hit by one of our comrades with a bullet that had been split up into sixteen pieces, for firing at a fox ; he took to flight, but having gone ten or twelve paces lay down, and was killed with a lance-thrust. On account of the bitter cold, we left him unskinned.

Spitsbergen map 17c.png
Reply to  Climate believer
January 16, 2021 8:06 am

Hey, I found my book which holds a collection of papers of the Medieval Warm Period, all held together in a published text. That book cost me over $100, but it was worth every penny of it. I am going to start quoting that stuff before long.

Really, if you cut off the grants funding, all of that climate voodoo warming will start to slither away into the swamp from which it rizzed up.

Mad Mac
January 16, 2021 4:33 am

Bears are opportunists. I worked in Yellowstone Park in the 60’s and we visited the West Yellowstone dump a few times in the late evenings. The dump was a huge attraction for grizzlies. Saw a number of fights and the sounds they made were incredible.
Look up bears chasing cyclists on you tube; there are many.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Mad Mac
January 17, 2021 9:55 am

Mad Mac,
I remember reading a news item back in the 1980s about bear problems in Yosemite. The mama bears were teaching their cubs how to break into vehicles with food inside by sinking their claws into the weatherstripping and popping the window out of the frame! The rangers had been trying for years to get the public to stop leaving food in their cars to no avail, so they finally started trying to scare the bears with packs of barking dogs and and loud noises! At least they finally hit on the intelligent side of the equation!
For many years the problem bears were relocated to wilderness areas away from population centers so I got to deal with some of them at the pack station I frequented on my summer vacations. 12ga. bear bangers usually did the trick, at least temporarily, so I never had to resort to the sporterized Springfield 30-06. One morning I saw a young bear ambling near my camp so I grabbed a large branch and ran at it yelling loudly! The bear turned and ran away, straight up the trail to the privy where my female companion was heading back! She threw up her arms and yelled at the bear; which stopped, looked at both of us and ran off into the woods as fast as it could! Needless to say, the incident put a decided crimp in my romantic plans; but I never would have acted that way for a grizzly or a polar bear! They require something a little more robust; like an AR 10 or an Auto Mag!

Reply to  Abolition Man
January 26, 2021 7:15 pm

Several years ago a man was killed by a grizzly in a campground in one of those parks like Yellowstone. Ripped his tent open.

Autopsy showed the female grizzly was in adequate health but needed more food, perhaps was still nursing cubs. Chemical analysis showed she had not eaten pine nuts in two years, a good food source there but apparently grizzlies have diet preferences.

(Could be like the Darwin Candidates called Southern Resident Killer Whales near Seattle and Victoria BC, they culturally restrict themselves to large salmon, whereas their cousins near Norway figured out how to corral herring to gulp many at a time. Orcas are supposedly intelligent, but like humans can get life-deteriorating notiosn.,

Bruce Cobb
January 16, 2021 5:50 am

They are looking for meal worm grubs, as they’ve heard they are quite good, and will help “save the planet”. Poly bears are nothing if not green, doncha know.

January 16, 2021 6:08 am

The photo of the bear in the cabin – priceless! It’s that look on his/her face: Didja bring me a pizza and some beer? I got the TV going on Wild Russia. We should move over there, maybe?

Really, the reality is that bears, like birdzzz, go where there’s food. If there isn’t any food on my front steps, the birds go elsewhere and I have no birds to photograph. Keep the trash dumps cleaned up and there will be no bears showing up for a picnic.

January 16, 2021 8:41 am

Apex predators do want they wanna do and go where they wanna go.

January 16, 2021 9:34 am

Cicilia Blomdahl on youtube has videos of her life in Longyearbyen….on Svalbard….she carries a gun and bear repellent.That is one cold dark place in winter.

January 16, 2021 2:13 pm

For those who grew up or who have young kids in Australia…..

There’s a bear in there… …

Reply to  fred250
January 16, 2021 5:28 pm

probably… And a chair as well

I doubt there are many people with games, though.. !

…. at least, if there were, I doubt they have any stories to tell

Their “story” would be well and truly finished. !

January 16, 2021 6:41 pm

After reading Susan’s novel “Eaten”, I think I’ll just stay out the Arctic.
The Chicago suburbs seem tame in comparison.

January 26, 2021 7:04 pm

Right, like black bears in the Victoria BC area they like tasty food humans have around. Very difficult to chase black bears away once they have become used to it, if exported somewhere they can find their way back a surprising distance.

For polar bears, humans may be an added attraction, :-o)

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights