Few bears on the ice off Western Hudson Bay at 14 August but will be onshore soon

Reposted from Dr. Crockford’s Polar Bear Science

Posted on August 15, 2020 |

Polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher published a tracking map of his collared polar bear females that shows one bear (out of 11) still on the rapidly diminishing ice north of Churchill in Western Hudson Bay – and where there is a collared female, there is almost certainly other bears doing the exact same thing:

Derocher 2020 WHB tracking map 14 Aug_1 bear still on the iceDerocher 2020 WHB tracking map 14 Aug_1 bear still on the ice

Without evidence to support such a claim, Derocher (below) assumes this collared female is probably hunting seals. In fact, last year he admitted that most bears on Hudson Bay from at least July onward are unlikely to be successfully hunting seals:

Derocher 2020 Aug 14_1 bear still on the ice at 14 Aug odd behaviourDerocher 2020 Aug 14_1 bear still on the ice at 14 Aug odd behaviour

The ice is almost invisible on the chart above and it’s still pretty hard to see on the CIS map below for the following day (15 August):

Sea ice Canada 2020 August 15Sea ice Canada 2020 August 15

After more than a week (from 3 August) without any bear activity, over the last few days the wildlife cameras scanning the shoreline of Wakusp National Park east of Churchill operated by Explore.org spotted a mother with two cubs (on Wednesday 12 August) and a single bear (Friday 14 August) apparently just off the ice:

Polar bear Cape West Wakusp NP 1_12 Aug 2020Polar bear Cape West Wakusp NP 1_12 Aug 2020
Polar bear Cape East Wakusp NP 3_14 Aug 2020Polar bear Cape East Wakusp NP 3_14 Aug 2020

Below is the Arctic-wide view of sea ice at the same date (14 August 2020):

masie_all_zoom_4km 2020 August 14masie_all_zoom_4km 2020 August 14

See my discussion last week on what it means that these polar bears are not onshore already (with references), even with so little ice left on the bay; also, to follow-up on my last post, there is still no sign of a report from the Polar Bear Alert Program regarding problem bears in Churchill.

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August 16, 2020 at 01:02PM

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