By Dr. Susan Crockford
All of the bears within view of the coastal web cams on the shore of Wapusk National Park near Churchill on Western Hudson Bay seem to be in very good shape this year, despite having come off the ice a few weeks earlier than they have over the last few years. Despite this, problems with bears in Churchill seem to have been below average this year. Some great action can be seen via several Explore dot org live web cams that are streaming from shore right now.
No ice forming yet along the west coast of Hudson Bay as of today, which is a bit later than it has been for the last few years. That means some of these bears will likely have spent almost 5 months onshore by the time they get back on the newly-formed ice and resume hunting seals.
However, all this is good news for the highly-regulated polar bear viewing industry that operates out of Churchill, Manitoba.
Due to a very close relationship that the dominant company Frontiers North has with the highly-influential conservation non-profit Polar Bears International (PBI, for which many IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group biologists act as ‘advisors’), tourists taking these viewing trips are fed a steady narrative of gloomy prospects for future polar bear survival alongside alarmist climate change ’emergency’ rhetoric.
This first week of November has been dubbed ‘Polar Bear Week’ by PBI because it’s traditionally the best viewing time at this location and therefore the best time for them to peddle their propaganda.
Companies send their big-wheeled buggies (see example below) out over the tundra at Wakusp National Park where the bear congregate and wait for the ice to form.
The web cam operated by Explore.org (with funding help from PBI) shows a bit of light snow in some places and ice only on the tundra ponds. There appears to have been some good bear action, so at least the tourists have been getting photos of fat bears to counter the propaganda they are being fed. One has to wonder, how many of them notice the disconnect?
Photos below are screencaps from the live web cam taken on 1 November 2021.
Below, two big males who shortly after began ‘sparring’ [the play-fighting that is practice for the real fighting that goes on during the mating season in April/May]
Another view, probably of the same two males…
Below, two sows, each with a yearling cub
Problem bear reports for Churchill
The Polar Bear Alert Program has finally completely updated its problem bear reports to 24 October 2021, which was week 17 this year, with another batch of reports posted this morning (2 November):
Compare the above to 2018 at the same time (also week 17 that year), when there were almost twice as many incidents (see 2. ‘occurrences’ ):
In contrast, 2017 at the same time (which was week 16 that year) was very similar to 2021: