Could Canadians be so lucky to have one of the world’s largest land carnivores in their own back yard?
Believe it or not, majestic polar bears are so close to home.
They are found near Churchill, Manitoba on the western coast of Hudson Bay where we find one of the three largest polar bear maternity denning areas in the world. In fact, Churchill is referred to as The Polar Bear Capital of the World.
Did you know:
• The polar bear population is estimated to be between 25,000 and 40,000 worldwide with nearly 60 per cent of the world’s polar bears living in Canada
• Some of these mighty ones may grow 10 feet tall and weigh an amazing 1,400 pounds
• Polar bears can swim up to 100 kilometres
• A polar bear can eat up to 100 pounds of meat in one sitting
• Polar bears are just as smart as apes. Their success at hunting seals may be a sign of their brain power
• Polar bears have wide front paws with slightly webbed toes that help them swim. They paddle with their front feet and steer with their hind feet
• Their babies are much smaller than human babies when they’re born. They are the size of a rat and weigh little more than a pound. They can grow to full man size in a year if they have lots of food.
Sadly, six out of eight members of the bear family are now considered endangered in Canada.
This marine mammal or “sea bear” depends upon the marine environment for survival. Scientists have identified a strong correlation between the decline in polar bears and the reduction in sea ice in Western Hudson Bay.
Polar bears spend the majority of their lives on sea ice. They depend on the ice to rest and breed and it provides a platform from which to hunt seals, whose thick layers of blubber provide energy for survival.
Unfortunately, the loss of sea ice threatens much of Canadian wildlife. The time to see these creatures in their habitat is now and the most rewarding way to experience the polar bears of Churchill is to immerse yourself in their environment.
Many agree, Of all the ways to experience the breathtaking beauty of Canada there’s nothing like a polar bear experience.
Oh Canadians, if you were so lucky.
Gary Ferguson owns Sunwest Tours in Kelowna.