A daily field report on polar bears from our guide Steve Selden in our Churchill, Manitoba office! Check out our polar bear tours here.
Warmer temperatures prevailed as the mercury settled around 31°F for the day. Low clouds and fog canceled our helicopter excursions, so many visitors elected to go dog-sledding, whipping through the willows by the ponds just outside of town. Though on wheels, the custom-made carts provide an excellent way for travelers to experience northern dog teams hard at work. And until we switch over to sleds following a heavy snowfall, the ride tends to be slightly more on the “Ruff” side. Sorry.
The big news from the tundra and the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA) was the initial spottings of mother and cub polar bears out around the Tundra Lodge. First reports came in from Lodge Guides Rinie and Leah themselves as they reported one mom with a yearling and another with a cub of the year or “coy” as they are known. This captured full attention of all lodge guests as the cameras buzzed throughout the afternoon. “Rocky,” the big 900-pound male, seemingly welcomed the respite from the attention as he snoozed unconcerned by the willows to the west.
Guide Elise’s travelers enjoyed the scene at the lodge and then made their way out toward Gordon Point where they viewed three Arctic Foxes along the way. One of those seemed to be either incessantly tracking lemmings or completely confused as he constantly circled the rover for a good hour or more. Great chances for pics from all sides of an animal that has been quite elusive over the past couple of years. Ptarmigan were also found as well, as the rover ambled on.
On our evening rover trips to the tundra, Guides Scott and Karen had spectacular encounters with perhaps more than a dozen bears. In addition to the two sets of moms with their cubs, both groups also came upon a mom with two cubs… an occurrence that is somewhat uncommon due to the harsh conditions of the winter and the scarcity of food. Guide Karen reports having at least four bears in view at any given time while patrolling the coast road. They had aspirations to head out to Gordon Point but soon found it “pointless” once they passed First Tower as the bears were everywhere. Many bears were observed filling their faces with Gooseberries once again. Another bear was witnessed constantly rolling in the dirt and rough by the willows. Most interaction between bears involved bumping each other like a northern version of bumper-cars though never escalating to sparring between males.
Still, another amazing, unique day/evening on the land.