The Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba

by Pat Wion Hammond / Nov 21, 2008 /

I just got back from one of the most exciting vacations I've ever been on...and I had to share a few of the 150 pictures I took of the Polar Bears!  We went to Churchill, Manitoba up on the Hudson Bay where the Polar Bears are at this time every year. There's a four-week window when they're in this area, waiting for the ice to freeze on the Hudson Bay...that should happen in another week or two, and then the Polar Bears go out on the ice to begin their hunting season.  They are searching for seals to eat. They roam up to 60 or 70 miles out onto the ice...this ice doesn't completely melt until about June....so they have a very long hunting season and plenty of time to fill up on those tasty little seals.

polar bears

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polar bears 

 

 We went out on what they call a Tundra Buggy for the whole day searching for these guys.  We found about 20 Polar Bears in all....Churchill is in a Tundra region and they are semi-arid...in fact the snow fall you see in the pictures was very unusual for them...it happened the day before we arrived. We drove to Thompson, Manitoba and then took a Really Long train ride to get up there - there are no roads you can drive to get to Churchill.

 

polar bears

 

polar bears


Polar Bears are on the endangered list and scientists are predicting they might not be around in the year 2050....so sad...they are so cool.

I was about 200 feet and more from the polar bears...and we were in a Tundra Buggy...which is like a bus, except it's got these giant tires - about 7 or 8 feet tall, so we're way above the bears. And they had an outside viewing platform, which was nicer than pulling the windows down every time you wanted a shot of the bears, and it was too cold for most people, so I had the viewing platform to myself a lot of the times.   It was very, very cold...the wind chill was about 20 below - real temp about 5....but I had on about 4 layers at least and gloves, scarves, hat, boots...you had to cover every inch of your body....I did get some wind burn on my cheeks (face)...but that only lasted a couple of days afterwards.

 

polar bears

 

polar bears 

 

The male bears grow to be twice as big as the females...up to 1500 pounds.  And they are all good swimmers. The population of Polar Bears is about 30% female and 70% male....hence a LOT of fighting going on during mating season. The females only give birth once every 3 years, cause they're too busy taking care of the kids.  They don't wean the cubs until they're about 2 years old..... and they usually have twins every time, although there are cases of triplets some times, but very rarely do all 3 make it...they usually lose one of the three, the runt obviously.

 

polar bears

 

polar bears

I had read about Churchill years ago, and put the article away, hoping I could go someday. This trip has joined the ranks of my TOP TEN vacations of all time!

 

polar bears 

 

To find out more about Churchill, Manitoba, please see:
http://www.townofchurchill.ca/

To learn more about Tundra Buggy, and to make reservations, please see:
http://www.tundrabuggy.com/

 

All photos copyright Pat Wion Hammond.

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Comments (4)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    10 years 10 months ago

    Pat - thanks SO MUCH for sharing this cool place with us! I think *we* need to head there, too.  

     

    Jessie Voigts

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

  • monacake

    10 years 10 months ago

    i have always wanted to go up there - and now even more so after enjoying your article! thanks!

  • Glinda

    10 years 10 months ago

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos with us. What a trip this must've been!

  • Isabella Pearson

    10 years 2 weeks ago




    Watching Polar bears live in action & not just caged in zoo is not only a eco friendly way of doing it but also a fun way in Churchill, Manitoba. A tundra carriage for day to witness polar bears with Eskimo museum would be memorable & eco friendly journey for you. To discover more secrets, refer: http://www.journeyidea.com/get-close-with-polar-bears-in-churchill-manitoba/

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