By this time of year, the polar bears that gather in Churchill Manitoba are usually following the edge of the ice shelf as it grows larger, searching for food sources like young seal pups. But in a new blog post titled "Where's the Ice?", polar bear expert Dr. Andrew Derocher - who is monitoring the bears in Churchill - points out that many of the female bears are still stranded on land, and that a strong southern wind pushed back many of the bears that did make it onto the ice.
According to a November 28 report from Environment Canada, Hudson Bay is missing a large amount of ice as compared to previous year's averages. The red areas represent departures from normal concentrations of ice (click for full size).
Dr. Derocher says "we suspect the bears really want to be much further out in the Bay because they usually follow the ice edge". Without that ice in place, the bears can't leave the land.
Although Dr. Derocher believes that the loss of ice is leading to a decline in bear populations, some Inuit communities maintain that polar bear numbers are actually on the rise. In Nunavut, the Inuit have reported more polar bear sightings in recent years.
The Polar Bear Cam shut down for the season as of Saturday, November 28. You can watch highlights from this year's cam on their website, and visit Polar Bears International to find out how to get involved and help the bears.