As “Spring” approaches in the North, most, if not all polar bears are enjoying a fine seal-hunting season on the frozen Hudson Bay. As we know, the vast majority of bears left for the ice around the end of November when the Hudson Bay froze sufficiently to allow the massive bruins to begin their annual quest for seal meals.

Alpenglow in Churchill.

Photo: Steve Selden

As the ice forms in November, a mass migration or exodus if you will , can be witnessed as the bears head North onto the frozen platform. It’s that day the bears are lingering amassed along the coast and the next morning walking bears vanish into the gray horizon where ice, water and sky meld together into one. Adult males and females as well as juveniles make their way off land in order to get going with replenishing their bodies’ supply of fat and protein before the Spring arrives with melting temperatures. Ring seal dens are the main target so the bears strive to get hunting as early as possible in the birthing season.Churchill polar bears.

Once the November bears are gone, most people involved with the frenetic Fall polar bear season forget about polar bears for another year. However, over the last month or so, polar bears have been moving through the Churchill area…mostly to the East of town…though occasionally straying close to city limits. Newly born cubs with their moms have been emerging from their dens in Wapusk National Park and heading out to the ice in family groups to learn hunting techniques and hopefully consume seals in order to make it through what remains of the cold Winter.

The migration is quick…no lingering here…and comes as a sort of encore to the Fall bear viewing season that seems so long ago at this point. For local Churchillians, I imagine the chance to see the polar bears in their natural habitat without the throngs of people and buses around can be magical and refresh their reasons and feelings for living in this magnificent place.

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