Polar Bears of Canada - Thomas Dolan

These are just a few of the hundreds of photos I took of polar bears in October-November, 2006 at the Churchill Wildlife Management Area in Canada. Churchill is a town in northern Manitoba, Canada on the west shore of Hudson Bay, roughly 110 kilometres from the Manitoba/Nunavut border. It is most famous for the many polar bears that move toward the shore from inland in the autumn, leading to the nickname "Polar Bear Capital of the World" that has helped its growing tourism industry.

This opportunity is offered by Frontiers North Adventures (frontiers north.com). For four days, I lived in the Tundra Buggy Lodge and went out daily in a tundra buggy to take these photos. It was a remarkable experience.

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a carnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is a large bear, approximately the same size as the omnivorous Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi). A boar (adult male) weighs around 350–700 kg (772–1,543 lb), while a sow (adult female) is about half that size. Although it is the sister species of the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving across snow, ice, and open water, and for hunting seals, which make up most of its diet. It can smell a seal forty miles away! Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their time on the sea ice. Their scientific name means "maritime bear", and derives from this fact. Polar bears hunt their preferred food of seals from the edge of sea ice, often living off fat reserves when no sea ice is present.

Because of their dependence on the sea ice, polar bears are classified as marine mammals. Because of expected habitat loss caused by climate change, the polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species, and at least three of the nineteen polar bear subpopulations are currently in decline. For decades, large-scale hunting raised international concern for the future of the species, but populations rebounded after controls and quotas began to take effect. For thousands of years, the polar bear has been a key figure in the material, spiritual, and cultural life of circumpolar peoples, and polar bears remain important in their cultures. Wikipedia

I would like to thank John Batdorff and Staci Prince of johnbatdorff.com for their curating, Lightroom and website assistance.

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