“We watched the sleepy family for a little while and then noticed a large male making his way towards their direction.”
Male polar bear starts to move towards mother and cubs. Jeff Klofft photo.
Our guides explained that a male polar bear can try to separate the mother from her cubs in order to mate with her. The cubs will surely not survive on their own without their mother, and their survival depends on her staying away from the big male. Unfortunately, she and the cubs were sleeping soundly as the male approached closer and closer, and all of us held our breath in dread of what we might see if he surprised them before they could hustle away.
Mother and cubs become aware and begin to move. Jeff Klofft photo.
Finally, as we all silently willed the mother bear to wake up and move on, she was up on her feet and she and her cubs were on the move even faster than Jeff’s rapid camera could catch it!
“So once she started to move, she and her cubs MOVED! Some in our group actually were able to hear her hiss at the big male. They ran towards our Polar Rover at top speed until she was right behind our viewing platform.”
Polar bears on the run to safety. Jeff Klofft photo
“Directly behind us, the female stopped to see where the big male was, and found him to be plodding along in her direction, so although she slowed her speed, she and her cubs continued moving off away from the larger bear.”
Mother polar bear on the lookout for aggressive male. Jeff Klofft photo.
The big male moved more slowly but quite deliberately in her direction, stopping along the way to sniff where she and the cubs had been.
Sniffing the family’s scent the male polar bear slowly tracks them. Jeff Klofft photo.
Once the big male had given up the chase, the polar bear family moved off toward the shore in a group. Jeff Klofft photo.
Male polar bear finally gives up the chase and heads for a rest in the willows. Jeff Klofft photo.
With the south winds blowing the ice – pack away from the southern Hudson Bay coast, there are still some polar bears around Churchill at this late juncture. These three polar bear family pics were taken by local photographer Karine Genest and featured by Polar Bear Alley, a long – time Churchill blog site. While we are still enjoying all the bonus polar bear coverage from the north, we are hoping that the ice returns and covers the bay soon. Just like your local pee-wee hockey team, these hungry animals need ice – time albeit for different end “goals”!
A sow polar bear and her two cubs relaxing near the Hudson Bay. Karine Genest photo.
Nursing polar bear cubs while mom keeps a watchful eye. Karine Genest photo.
Polar bears resting comfortably awaiting the return of the Hudson Bay ice. Karine Genest photo.
Daisy Gilardini from Vancouver took this phenomenal image near Wapusk National Park in Manitoba just outside Churchill. The well know denning area allows seasonal travel for photographers to capture exquisite polar bear family scenes like this one. The photo titled Motherhood was taken last March. It was selected as the grand prize out of 20,000 submissions in an international photo contest and will as a result will be on display for a year at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington , DC,